The C&O Canal NHP runs 184.5 miles alongside the Potomac River. Beginning in Georgetown the canal winds its way North West to Cumberland, Maryland. In 2009, over 3.8 million people accessed the park. That's more visitors than Yellowstone NP!
Alongside the canal runs the towpath that is used by many each day for walking, cycling, and enjoying nature. It is a serene setting with cooling canopies or lush trees, vibrant blooms of flowers, and animals scurrying across the path.
The C&O Canl NHP has a rich history. "In the 19th century the C&O Canal provided jobs and opportunities for people throughout the Potomac River Valley. Today the canal's remains provide a place to recreate and enjoy nature, but most importantly they tell the story of the canal's important role in many aspects of American history.
There are over 1,300 historical structures along the C&O Canal. Lockhouses, aqueducts, dams and pumphouses are just a few of the engineering marvels of the 19th Century found on the canal. Most of the original structures still exist today. They are a silent testimony to those who used to work and live here on the C&O Canal.
The canal was literally a man-made river. To make the canal work a complex system of hydrology was constructed. To supply water for the canal seven feeder dams were built on the Potomac River from Cumberland to Little Falls. To control the water, seventy-four lift locks were placed in the canal.
The C&O Canal National Historical Park is in a constantly shifting, dynamic state. Weather and climate change, geologic processes, flooding and human-caused factors such as air and water pollution are only a few of the agents of change that have helped to carve the Potomac River Valley. The park provides a "living laboratory" that helps us better understand how these environmental factors have shaped park landscapes and ecosystems.
C&O Canal NHP includes nearly 20,000 acres of natural habitats where close to 4 million people each year enjoy hiking, biking, fishing and various other recreational activities. As areas of natural habitat outside the park are altered by modern land use practices, C&O Canal NHP becomes a refuge for the preservation of biodiversity."
All of the above information can be found at www.nps.gov/choh