Volunteer Updates

Hello Level Walkers:

Here is some more info for you from the National Park Service.

Locks 5-22 Project: The Locks 5-22 Project began Dec 4, 2017 and will continue for approximately 500 days. Staging in the Great Falls parking lot has begun, and we should start seeing construction activity by the end of the year. Updates for all Park projects can be found on our Project Webpage.

Great Falls Tavern Dates:

  • Dec 24 – Closed
  • Dec 31 – Closed
  • Jan 1 – Open, First Day Hikes
  • Jan 13, 12:30-3:30 – Northern Virginia Mountain Dulcimers
  • Jan 15 – Closed

Fee Free Days 2018

  • Jan 15 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Apr 21 – First day of National Park Week
  • Sept 22 – National Public Lands Day
  • Nov 11 – Veterans Day

Fall/Winter C&O Canal Volunteer Newsletter: This newsletter is issued periodically by the park with info relevant to volunteers. Thanks to Kelsey Smith and Mary Kate Gentile for pulling this newsletter together. Happy Holidays from the HQ Volunteer Office!


Above – Iced over canal at Lock 70, Level 63, February 15, 2015

C&O Canal VIP Speaker Series

The C&O Canal NHP is continuing the popular VIP Speaker Series in 2018.  The first two events have been scheduled. The following announcements are from the C&O Canal NHP.

Join Steve Dean on January 27th at 2 p.m. in the Great Falls Tavern for his presentation on the C&O Canal’s historic aqueducts. Steve will cover each aqueduct and its interesting features, past and present restoration projects, and the role aqueducts played in canal operations. This program is limited to the first 20 guests, to RSVP, please contact Kelsey Smith, Assistant Volunteer Coordinator, at kelsey_smith@nps.gov or  mary_gentile@partner.nps.gov  (Note: if you miss the aqueduct presentation in January, it will be the program at the Association’s Fall Heritage Hike.)

On February 24th at 9 a.m. Jim Nelson, C&O Canal volunteer, will be leading a Great Backyard Bird Count in Great Falls. Join Jim at the Great Falls Tavern and then head out on a 2 1/2 mile walk along the towpath as you get to view some of the canal’s amazing birds. This program is in conjunction with the Audubon’s Great Backyard Bird Count, so there will be an opportunity to provide data to help researchers learn more about how birds are doing, and how to protect them. This program is limited to the first 20 people, to RSVP, send an email to mary_gentile@partner.nps.gov


Above – Tonoloway Creek Aqueduct, Level 47, November 16, 2017

Park Bench Locations

Hello Level Walkers,

Two philanthropists have made a donation to the C&O Canal Trust to fund installation of 15 benches upriver from Great Falls. Their donation is a thoughtful gesture for towpath users. To date almost all donors have chosen more popular downstream locations for their benches.

Because Jim Heins and his VIP crew do all the installation work, the Canal Trust has invited the C&O Canal Association to provide input on the precise locations of the benches.

The Canal Trust has designated 15 places for benches: Swains Lock, Seneca Creek Aqueduct, Point of Rocks, Brunswick, Harpers Ferry, Lock 38, Snyders Landing or Taylors Landing, Williamsport, Four Locks, Hancock, Little Orleans, Paw Paw Tunnel, Oldtown, Lock 75, and Cumberland.

If you are familiar with one of these places or are willing to scout one out, you can use the bench location specification form to submit a location to Jim Heins at jheins57@verizon.net by January 14. (If you can send it earlier, Jim would be appreciative.)  Jim will review the locations, consolidate our inputs, and send the information to the Trust, who will submit the locations to the park for compliance review.

The most challenging aspect of this process is describing the suggested location so that someone else can go back and find it. You have a few options:

  • If you can provide the exact GPS coordinates, that’s great.
  • Mark the location with a colorful ribbon.
  • Use your cell phone to take a picture of your hiking companion standing in the location. You can send the photo to Jim.

The bench location specification form gives some guidance on selecting a location.

Thank you for your support of this project.


Above – Bench installation at Great Falls, Level 6, November 5, 2016