C&O Canal NHP Storm Conditions – 13 September 2018

The C&O Canal NHP advises that, due to the lightened forecast of hurricane Florence, volunteer duties in the Park can resume as normal. Conditions are still not optimal and there are risks that should be considered if you choose to venture out on the towpath. As always, your efforts as level walkers are purely optional and you should consider the risks you may take out there. There will be plenty of time for level walks later, when conditions improve.

Check for the most up to date conditions, closures and safety warnings at http://go.nps.gov/choh_conditions or Facebook @chesapeakeandohiocanal before venturing out.

The following guidance is provided by the park safety officer outlining some things to look out for post storm.

Falling Trees

  • Due to the extremely wet spring and summer, the ground is completely saturated and does not have its normal ability to hold tree root balls in place. As a result, large and small trees are falling over without any wind or for any other reason.
  • Avoid traveling under a tree canopy if you can.
  • Do not stop or rest under trees that are leaning. These are more prone to falling over due to ground failure.
  • Look for bulges in the ground around the base of trees. If you see a bulge, notify the park via the dispatch number 866-877-6677 or the hazard warning email CHOH_Hazards@nps.gov
  • If the wind begins to pick up, get off the towpath and away from any trees.

Towpath Travel

  • The towpath is very wet and some area may be covered with slippery mud due to recent flooding.
  • If you are unfamiliar with the section of towpath, this is not the time to explore. If you must go, take an experienced person with you. Again, if you are unsure, stay off the towpath.
  • Make sure someone is aware of your destination and is responsible for ensuring your safe return.


C&O Canal NHP Storm Conditions – 11 September 2018

Level Walkers,

The following message is from the C&O Canal NHP. Please heed all cautions both before, during and after the storm.  Water levels are already high. It is important that we follow their guidance because conditions can be very dangerous due to localized flooding, loose or undermined earth, or tree issues.   Your safety is more important than your work as volunteers.

As noted below, the park is the best source for information. Visit http://go.nps.gov/choh_conditions as noted below or follow the park on Facebook @chesapeakeandohiocanal.

The park will be looking for volunteers to help prepare for the storm.  Contact one of the visitor centers (contact info is on the contacts page of Along the Towpath) for local volunteer requirements. Also, if you are interested in helping prepare Lockhouse 6 for the storm on Wednesday, 9/12, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., call 301-745-8888 or further information

Like you, I hope our park avoids serious damage from this storm. Be safe! The guidance from the park follows.


Due to the flood impact we are expecting and experiencing, volunteers should not be on the towpath at this time. However, we can use their help at park access points providing safety messages to visitors. VIPs must report in and out to their District Volunteer Coordinator.

As of 10:00 am, September 11, 2018

Increased rainfall and rising river level in the area has caused sections of C&O Canal NHP to close. Sections of the canal and towpath may become flooded and trap visitors. Do not attempt to cross washouts or high water areas. High winds and wet soils can cause trees and branches to fall.

Volunteers must receive specific instructions from their District Volunteer Coordinator before entering the park.

All visitors encouraged to use caution; hikers and bikers are encouraged to seek alternatives.

For the most updated information, please refer to: http://go.nps.gov/choh_conditions

Upcoming C&O Canal National Historical Park Events

Hello Level Walkers!

We’ve had plenty of rain and heat, but summer has been relatively quiet as far as news. I do have a few updates to catch up with.

Annual Volunteer Dinners. The C&O Canal NHP is having their annual volunteer appreciation dinners in October. There are three dinners –

  • Cumberland on Wednesday, October 3rd at the Alleghany College of Maryland Continuing Education Building
  • Williamsport on Thursday, October 4th at the Barn at Springfield Farm
  • Great Falls on Thursday, October 11th at the Bumper Car Pavilion at Glen Echo Park

The dinners are from 5:45 to 9:00 p.m. Please email your RSVP to chohvip@gmail.com or call Claire Connor at (301) 745-5810. See the attached notice for further info.

These are great events for C&O Canal NHP volunteers to meet and mingle with park staff and your fellow volunteers. Normally I try to be at all three dinners to meet you, but this year I can only be at Great Falls.

Fall Events & Programs at C&O Canal National Historical Park. The park recently sent out a schedule of events.  These events are great opportunities to get out on the canal in the beautiful fall conditions we have and experience your park. Give a program or two a try!

September – Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, Potomac, Md. Interpretive program schedule:

  • Meet the Mules, Thursdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. Meet one of our hard working canal mules and learn about their role in canal history.
  • Tavern Talk, Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. Hear stories about the tavern’s colorful history during this 30-minute presentation.
  • Boat Talk, Friday through Saturday, 12 p.m., Sunday 12 & 2 p.m. Join a park ranger aboard the Charles F. Mercer and learn about life on a canal boat during this 30-minute presentation.
  • Great Falls Walking Tour, Friday and Saturday 2 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m. Take a 1-hour walk along the towpath out to the mighty Great Falls on the Potomac and learn about the park’s natural and cultural history.
  • Living History Demonstration: “Eels, Turtles, and Blackberry Pie” every Sunday in September (weather permitting) 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Learn about the diet of those who lived and worked along the canal in the 19th century.

September & October – Williamsport Launch Boat Tours, Williamsport Visitor Center, Williamsport, Md. These FREE 1-hour programs include riding in a historic replica canal launch boat from the Cushwa Basin to Lock 44 and back to the Cushwa Warehouse. Tour times are Saturdays and Sundays, 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Reservations are taken by phone at (301) 582-0813 or in-person, 7 days in advance, starting September 1, 2018.

September & October – Lockhouse 44 – Williamsport, Md., Saturdays and Sundays, 1:15-4:15 p.m. This historic lockhouse represents the life of locktenders in the early 20th century. Join a ranger to learn about life on the C&O Canal (staffing dependent).

September & October – Boat Replica Tours – Cumberland, Md., Fridays, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The replica canal boat The Cumberland is open for touring. The full-sized replica cargo boat is located at Canal Place in downtown Cumberland, Md., near the Western Maryland Railway Station. Explore the mule stable, hay house, and captain’s cabin and learn about the life of the C&O canal boatmen (inclement weather cancels).\

September 1, 15, 22 & October 20 – Paw Paw Tunnel Tours – Paw Paw, W.Va., Saturdays, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Meet a park ranger at the small open amphitheater at Paw Paw Campground for a brief formal talk followed by a guided tour through the Paw Paw Tunnel. Learn about the challenges of building the tunnel, the geology of the area, and how the current rock scaling and pinning project may help avert future rock slides. The park ranger will remain in the area between the tunnel and the amphitheater between programs.

September 2 & 16 – Bike Ride with a Ranger – Cumberland, Md., Sundays, 10 a.m. Meet a ranger at the Cumberland Visitor Center for a 10-mile round trip bike ride from the canal Terminus to Evitts Creek Aqueduct and back. Learn about the canal basins and boat yards and view the westernmost aqueduct on the canal in this 90-minute to two-hour ride.

September 7 – 9 – River and Rails Festival at Canal Place – Cumberland, Md. Family festival event at Canal Place to focus on planned Cumberland River Park. Celebrate the river, canal, and rails in the Queen City. Tours of the replica canal boat, talks, fishing for children, kayaks on the basin, music and food. For more information contact the Canal Place Authority at (301) 724-3655.

September 8, October 6, & November 3 – Dulcimer Music – Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, Potomac, Md., 12:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. Join us for live music by the Mountain Dulcimers of Northern Virginia and try your hand at playing this unique instrument.

September 22 – Blacksmith Demonstration – Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, Potomac, Md., 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Learn about the art and science of blacksmithing during this demonstration. In the 19th century if something broke, you would probably call a blacksmith. Things were generally made to last; if it broke it was often repaired or re-purposed instead of being thrown out. Recycle and reuse was the attitude of the day.

September 29 – VIP Speaker Series – Lock 75, North Branch, Cumberland, Md., 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Join photographer Steve Dean at the westernmost lock on the C&O Canal. Pick up some pointers from a talented photographer who has photographed the canal from every angle! Steve is an expert on the canal culverts and dragonflies, but also knows cameras! Join Steve to explore this beautiful section of towpath with an eye to capturing some good photos along the way.

September 29 – Bike Your Park Day – Various Locations throughout the park, all day. Enjoy the C&O Canal by cycling the towpath! Borrow a bike for free from the Williamsport or Great Falls Visitor Centers or join a ranger guided ride. Meet a ranger at the Little Tonoloway parking lot/boat ramp at 9:30 a.m. for a 16-mile ride or 9:30 a.m. for a 19-mile bike ride from the Terminus at Cumberland to Lock 75, North Branch, and back. Enjoy this C&O Canal bike adventure as fall gets underway!

September 29 & 30 – Living History Demonstrations with the 7th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment – Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, Potomac Md., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., & 3 p.m. each day. Relive the year 1862, when the country was in the middle of the Civil War and a hostile border existed along the Potomac River. The park will host a Civil War living history weekend with these re-enactors. Visitors are invited to walk through their camp and learn about the history of the canal during the war.

Above  – It’s been a great summer for dragonflies. An Eastern Pondhawk (f) dines on a delicious fly for lunch. Level 16, August 25, 2018

Below – The announcement for the C&O Canal Volunteer Appreciation Dinners (Image – NPS)

VIP Dinner Flyer 2018 (1)