Picnic Table Renewal

Hello Level Walkers!

The following request is forwarded on behalf of our VIP chair, Jim Heins. Jim is asking for your help to identify broken tables on your level, or anywhere else on the park. Please help Jim by reporting damaged tables per his request below.

Thanks, Steve

The C&O Canal Association will be refurbishing picnic tables throughout the park. Although there are a number of groups and ways to get them repainted, the Association plans to replace any boards that are rotting, broken or otherwise damaged that make them unserviceable.

We need help in identifying those tables in need of some TLC. To help us, we ask that, if you find any table that appears to fit this need, that you do the following:

            1. Take a picture of the area of need up close enough for us to assess the degree of the problem.

            2. Step back and take a second picture which would encompass the entire table which might show additional problems.

            3. Note whether it is a 6 foot or 8 foot table (most are 6) – we need to know what size boards to use.

            4. Accurately describe the location so we can easily find the problem table.

            5. Email this information to Jim Heins at vip@candocanal.org

Your help is greatly appreciated.

C&O Canal Update – March 10

Hello Level Walkers,

Here’s an update from the park.

Thanks, Steve

Dear Volunteers, 
Spring is ahead of us and the park is getting busier. Staff would like to take this opportunity to remind you that, while our volunteer team is very knowledgeable, we do not expect our volunteers to know everything under the sun. If you are volunteering in the park and a visitor asks you a lot of questions you do not have the answer to about a specific topic, please feel free to refer them to either the park’s main phone line (301-739-4200) or to the park information email (choh_information@nps.gov). If you have questions, please always feel free to reach out to your program supervisor.
It is time to submit photos for the 2022 C&O Canal calendar! Photos of all parts of the park, through all four seasons will be included in the calendar. So if you have photos of historic structures, flora/fauna, visitors, volunteers, or just about anything else in the park, please submit them! 
Once again this year, we ask that you submit your photos via Google Drive tochohvip@gmail.com. To do this, compose an email and hover your mouse over the plus sign next to the attachments, click on the drive icon (resembles recycling logo), upload the photos you would like to share, and send to chohvip@gmail.com. If you have any issues with this, please feel free to attach photos to a standard email sent to the same email address. 
Please label your photo files with the location and name of photographer.  – For example: BigSlackwater_Jane_Doe. 
The deadline for submission is Friday, May 7th, 2021. If your photograph is selected, you will be contacted and credited in the calendar.
Emily Durán Hewitt

Volunteer Update – May 8, 2020

Hello Level Walkers,
The park remains open, but volunteer activities are still on hold.  Here is another update from C&O Canal Volunteer Coordinator Emily Hewitt.
Also – a reminder – don’t forget to submit your 2021 C&O Canal Calendar candidate photos to the park via Google Drive to chohvip@gmail.com. To do this, compose an email and hover your mouse over the plus sign next to the attachments, click on the drive icon (resembles recycling logo), upload the photos you would like to share, and send to chohvip@gmail.com. If you have any issues with this, please feel free to attach photos to a standard email sent to the same email address.

Please label your photo files with the name of photographer and location.
– Ex. BigSlackwater_Jane_Doe.
The deadline for submission is Friday, June 5th, 2020. If your photograph is selected, you will be contacted and credited in the calendar.
Well Wishes,

Dear Volunteers,
I hope you have been enjoying the many blooms and blossoms of spring. There is one plant that is pervasive this time of year that is not such a welcome sight. Did you happen to see the post about invasive garlic mustard on the park Facebook page? If you see garlic mustard in your yard or during a walk in the neighborhood, now is the time to pull it before it goes to seed.
Speaking of invasive plant removals (and other volunteer projects) the annual Canal Pride Days events have been postponed due to COVID-19. The C&O Canal Trust is considering how small volunteer events to help the park might take place later in the year. Stay tuned for more information by following the C&O Canal Trust Facebook page.
In April, we highlighted many natural resource opportunities for Earth Month. So this week, Claire has the attached cultural resource piece to share and asks you to consider the following question. As we compare and contrast our present day lives to the recorded experiences of those who came before us, what do you identify as being intrinsically the same, and what is vastly different? Developing Perspective Through Historic Resources
We hope you are enjoying this natural and cultural resource information. Feel free to share your thoughts with us on Facebook or via email.
Please stay well!
Emily H. Hewitt
Volunteer Program Manager
C&O Canal National Historical Park

Image – Baby Raccoons near Oldtown – Level 62

Volunteer Update – April 29, 2020

Hello Level Walkers!

I hope the approach of May finds you well.

Here is another update from our volunteer coordinator Emily!

Regards, Steve

C&O Canal Volunteers,
I hope you are all doing well and staying safe at home. Here are some park updates and a message from our Superintendent.
Thanks to Cheyenne for compiling some tips and resources on recycling, upcycling, and composting to celebrate the last week of “Earth Month”. See attachment to learn more about these environmentally friendly activities.
Due to rising river levels, Billy Goat Trail A is closed until further notice to ensure visitor safety and resource protection. To keep up with current park closures and conditions, make sure to visit the alerts page on the park website.
Christiana Hanson is settling in as the Chief of Interpretation, Education, and Volunteers. For more about Christiana, see the attached press release.
Finally, Park Superintendent Tina Cappetta wanted to share this message with volunteers:
“Hi everyone. I hope you and your loved ones are all well during this trying time for our nation. While this pandemic is unprecedented for our times, I always find myself looking to history for some sort of anchor. Having spent my recent years at Fort McHenry, I cannot help but think of the soldiers who returned from the front lines of WWI to General Hospital No. 2 located at the hospital buildings there, only to battle for their lives again. The legacy of service of heroes like Head Army Nurse Emily Raine Williams who cared for hundreds of wounded soldiers battling the Spanish influenza lives on today. We will see better days soon. I look forward to seeing you on the towpath.” – Tina
Emily H. Hewitt
Volunteer Program Manager
C&O Canal National Historical Park

Image – Sunrise over the Potomac – Level 27

Level Walker Update

Hello Level Walkers!

It’s been a while since I’ve written! My intent was to get in touch with you to kick off the spring, when many level walkers return to the towpath. Of course, the pandemic has affected us all in many ways; I hope you are all coping well and staying healthy.  As you most likely have heard, at the present time, volunteer activities are suspended on the C&O Canal NHP. We’ll update you when that status changes.

Over the past month, I’ve reviewed recent level walker activity and the coverage we provide to the park. I’m happy to report you all have done a great job!  You are a great resource for the park, and the program provides a unique service. Some of you focus on clean-up activities, some delight in the natural aspects of our park, some provide insightful details about the conditions of the towpath and structures, and some cover just about everything.

My review did find that there are some sections of the park that would benefit from more coverage. I am looking at ways to improve coverage in these areas, and if you are interested in other opportunities please let me know.  The levels are throughout the park, and I plan to reach out to some of you individually to discuss possible realignment of assignments.

I recently contacted you individually regarding the National Park Service Volunteer Service Agreements (VSAs). These agreements are a mandatory requirement for all volunteers on national parks, and the NPS now asks that we renew them annually. If I contacted you, and you have already responded, thank you. If I haven’t heard from you I will be reminding you.  You only need to do one, and if you support other programs and included level walking on a VSA for that program, you are covered. In that case, please let me know you did that so I can update your status for the Level Walker program.

If I haven’t contacted you about the VSA, I either missed you for some reason or I may not have you on the list of active level walkers. There are three things needed to stay in the level walker program: the VSA, current C&O Canal Association membership, and recent (within one year) level walking activity.

Over the next few months I will be revising the level walk reporting format. This change is to better address the type of information collected and make it as relevant as possible to the park’s needs. Hopefully it will simplify things a bit, too.

One other note on reports – you may have noticed in the March Along the Towpath that the period of reports covered now ends on the last day of the month before the newsletter is produced – i.e. January 31 for the March issue. This allows more time for production of the article for the newsletter.

I’ll be in touch later, as the season progresses. For now – stay well!

Image – Broad Run Trunk -– Level 13

Cold Weather Activity on the Canal

Hello Level Walkers,

You’ve probably noticed – it’s been a bit on the cold side lately! Even though it is going to warm up next week, winter is by no means over and the cold may well come back.  Many hibernate in the winter, but some of us still get out there in the winter.  A few, like me, actually prefer the winter months on the canal.

If you are one of those who gets out there, the NPS wants us to be safe.  The following advice for safe activities on the canal is provided by the NPS.

Have fun if you get out there, but be careful!


As the Park begins to resume normal operations  we are in need of your Volunteer support more than ever. Unfortunately this becomes a little difficult with all of the snow and arctic temperatures we are experiencing right now. However, we know our volunteers are extremely motivated and have some of the best ‘can do’ attitudes around, so if you are going outside in theses conditions please be safe! Although parts of the park may resemble a winter wonderland it is still important to be aware of the risks exposure can cause and take precautions to protect yourself. Here is a list of some important tips to keep in mind while working outside in winter weather:

  • Layer clothing to accommodate for changes in weather.
  • Wear synthetic fabrics close to the skin. If conditions are wet, wear waterproof or water-repellent clothing (wet clothing loses 90 percent of its insulating value).
  • Protect the ears, face, hands, and feet in extremely cold or wet weather.
  • Boots should be waterproof and insulated.
  • Brush off snow regularly to avoid moisture.
  • Drink warm, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free liquids and warm solid foods to maintain fluid levels and preserve body heat.
  • Use the buddy system − work in pairs to ensure each other’s safety.
  • Seek shelter at regular intervals to rest and warm up.
  • Include chemical hot packs in your first aid kit.
  • Workers showing any signs or symptoms of overexposure should immediately come out of the cold.
  • Use extreme caution if you suffer from a health condition, are taking medication or are in poor physical condition. You may be at increased risk.

Upper Image – Culvert 140, Level 42, March 7, 2015

Safety graphics courtesy of the NPS




Volunteer Support Guidance

Hello Level Walkers,

The following guidance is provided by the C&O Canal NHP volunteer coordinator, Emily Hewitt.  If you get out there please report any findings to the park as soon as you can.  There is no hurry to submit your level walker report as long as the conditions are sent to the park as requested in the following.

Your support is greatly appreciated!


Welcome back to the park! We are eager to get back on track with all of our projects and programs, and we could use your help. As you are out in the park, there are specific conditions that would be helpful to report. Please email your assessments directly to claire_connor@partner.nps.gov
  • TREES – Any downed trees blocking the towpath, or hazard trees leaning precariously over the towpath should be reported with specific location and/or nearest mile marker number and a photo if possible.
  • TRASH – Are there areas that seem particularly trashy that could benefit from a clean-up? Please report the specific location and/or nearest mile marker number, and provide us with an idea of how much trash and what type needs to get cleaned up.
  • TOILETS – Are the port-o-pots and brown building pit toilets in good condition? If not, please report specific location and/or nearest mile marker number for toilets that are in sub-standard condition.
  • BOAT RAMPS – Are the boat ramps in good condition? Is there debris blocking them, or any other hazard that would prevent public use? Please report the location and provide photos if possible.
The park appreciates any assistance you can provide. Please email your reports to claire_connor@partner.nps.gov as soon as possible. Photos are always helpful, so please include them if possible. As always, please work safely. Thank you for your volunteer service!

Resumption of Volunteer Activities

Hello Level Walkers,

As you have no doubt heard, the government shutdown has ended. The National Park Service has advised that we can resume volunteer activities. NPS staff will be busy over the next few days as they resume normal operations.

As you return to the towpath, be watchful of any conditions the park may need to be aware of. You can report any hazards you encounter to https://www.nps.gov/choh/safetyhazardsreportingsystem.htm.

Also, be aware that areas may be closed or access restricted in certain areas. Refer to https://www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm for up-to-date status before visiting the park.

Thanks for your support!

Image – Lock 31 and Towpath Below Weverton, Level 21, January 26, 2019



Level Walker Safety and Volunteer Calendar Photo Submissions

Hello Level Walkers,

It’s hard to believe it is spring, especially with the treat Nature presented us with the first day of spring. Despite the persistent cold, I am already seeing increased level walks.  Thank you for that!

With the onset of the canal season this is a good time to review safety practices.  I will be sending out some general safety reminders in the near future, but for now there are a couple of new potential safety issues that the Park Service wants us to consider when we are out there.

If you come across what appears to be a homeless camp, occupied or unoccupied, during your level walks, do not investigate it, disturb it or attempt to clean up around it. The risk of bio-hazards and other dangers is too great.  You should call park dispatch to report the camp.

Please be extremely careful when you are picking up trash on the park. There is an increased risk of finding drug user materials or residue. This can expose you to very harmful and toxic chemicals that are being used by drug addicts.  The attached safety alert provides you with some of the dangers of trash pickup and some precautions. If you are unable to read or download the file please contact me at levelwalker@candocanal.org and I will send you a pdf version.

Annual Volunteer Calendar Photo Submissions. The following info is sent by the National Park Service:

We are now accepting photo submissions for the 2019 C&O Canal Calendar!

Photos of all parts of the park, through all four seasons will be included in the calendar. So if you have photos of historic structures, flora/fauna, visitors, volunteers, or just about anything else in the park, please submit them!

Once again this year, we ask that you submit your photos via Google Drive to chohvip@gmail.com. To do this, compose an email and hover your mouse over the plus sign next to the attachments, click on the drive icon (resembles recycling logo), upload the photos you would like to share, and send to chohvip@gmail.com. If you have any issues with this, please feel free to attach photos to a standard email sent to the same email address.

Please label your photo files with the name of photographer and location.

– Ex. BigSlackwater_John_Doe.
The deadline for submission is Friday, May 25th, 2018. If your photograph is selected, you will be contacted and credited in the calendar.

Above – Lock 39 detail, Levels 28 and 29, March 8, 2018

Below – Drug Exposure Safety Alert, NPSTrash Pickup and drug exposure

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