National Park Service News Releases
June 29, 2016 – Experience Modern Canal History in Williamsport, Maryland
Contact: Catherine Bragaw, 301-714-2238, firstname.lastname@example.org
HAGERSTOWN, MD – After weeks of rising expectations, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O Canal) National Historical Park is proud to announce the Western Maryland Railroad Lift Bridge at Williamsport, the only bridge of its kind along 184.5 miles of the C&O Canal, has been raised and secured in position. For the first time in 92 years, boats on the watered canal section in Williamsport can now pass under this historic bridge. The $285,000 interpretive project was paid for by recreation fee money collected at the park. Visitors can experience passing under this historic bridge during the park’s launch boat interpretive tour at Williamsport.
Join us at Williamsport for a ranger-led Launch Boat interpretive tour featuring the new extended boat tour that takes you under the RR bridge and into the Cushwa basin. Programs are available now through Labor Day from Thursday - Sunday at 11:00am, 1:30pm, and 3:00pm. Programs are free of charge, but donations are welcome. Call the C&O Canal Williamsport Visitor Center at 301-582-0813 for more information on reserving seats.
In the upcoming weeks additional repairs will begin on the C&O Canal’s Lock 44 at Williamsport that will add a working historic lock structure to support interpretive boat programming. The work will require a lowering of the water level downstream and sandbagging the Lock to dry it out. There is no timetable on the duration of this project.
May 9, 2016 – C&O Canal and Volunteers Win National Park Service Hartzog Award
Contact: Emily Hewitt, 301-714-2219
HAGERSTOWN, MD –The C&O Canal National Historical Park and two of its outstanding volunteers were recently the recipients of both regional and national-level National Park Service volunteer awards. Steve Dean, Vinh Le-Si, and the C&O Canal Volunteer Program were all awarded George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service.
Vinh Le-Si was the recipient of the national Hartzog Individual Volunteer Award. Vinh contributed more than 1,000 volunteer hours to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in 2015 and was a driving force behind many of the projects that directly benefited park visitors and volunteer staff. As a member of the Bike Patrol, Vinh volunteered on two patrols per week during riding season, covering a 23 mile stretch from Georgetown to the Seneca Aqueduct. Vinh also served as a member of the Bike Loaner Program and volunteered 76 hours to update the park bulletin boards with accurate information for visitors. Vinh’s most exceptional achievement was the repair of the park’s canal boat, the Charles F. Mercer. He recruited a volunteer boat maintenance crew to help identify and address the maintenance needs of the boat. He also worked with the Friends of Historic Great Falls Tavern, a park partner, to garner technical and financial support.
Steve Dean was the recipient of the regional Hartzog Enduring Service Award. Steve began serving as a volunteer in 1991 and contributed nearly 1,400 hours of volunteer service to the park in 2015 alone. He served as the chair member of the Level Walker program, assisted with maintenance of the Lock 38 area as a Canal Steward, participated on the C&O Canal Association Volunteers-in-Parks Team and served as a documentarian for the park’s historical culverts. Steve also spearheaded a two-year effort to reproduce the park handbook. He led the revision of both text and maps, recruited volunteers and park staff to contribute their expertise and added 20 pages to the handbook. Steve worked with the C&O Canal Association, a park partner, to copyright the handbook and pay for its publication. All proceeds from the book will be reinvested in the park’s education programs.
Finally, the C&O Canal’s own volunteer program was the recipient of the Hartzog Park Volunteer Program Award. Through the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal volunteer program, 3,620 volunteers contributed 78,012 hours to the park in 2015. Partnerships with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, the C&O Canal Association, Georgetown Heritage and the C&O Canal Trust helped make this program successful.
Volunteer roles in the park include staffing the Hancock Visitor Center every summer weekend, serving on a bike patrol along the canal towpath and providing visitor assistance with first aid and trail information, and repairing the park’s canal boat, the Charles F. Mercer. The completion of necessary boat repairs will allow the Mercer to carry students and park visitors on educational boat rides this spring and summer.
"When a VIP agrees to share his talents, skills and interests with the National Park Service, he is paying us one of the highest compliments possible by offering a most valued possession - his time." (George B. Hartzog, Jr., Director, National Park Service, 1964-1972).
In 1970, the Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program started with a few hundred volunteers. Today, more than 246,000 VIPs donate their time, skills, and talents to the National Park Service every year. The George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service recognize the exemplary contributions of these very important people.
April 22, 2016 – C&O Canal introduces new family program during National Park Week
Contact: Hollie Lynch, Education Coordinator, 301-491-0149
HAGERSTOWN, MD – To celebrate National Park Week and the Centennial of the National Park Service the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park is introducing a new family program for park visitors starting Saturday, April 23rd. Co-designed by teachers and park rangers, the program offers youth and their families an opportunity to explore nature and history in the park using pre-made backpack kits filled with activities and tools. Each backpack contains various activities geared for ages 3 and up. Backpacks can be checked out at the park’s three main visitor centers: Great Falls (located in Potomac, MD/Montgomery County), Williamsport (located in Williamsport, MD/Washington County) and Cumberland (located in Cumberland, MD/Allegany County).
This self-guided program is free,and families can check out a backpack for up to 4 hours.“We are excited to introduce a new program that will empower families and youth to get outside and explore their local national park,” stated C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt.
For more information on the backpack program please contact your local C&O Canal Visitor Center and ask about details. Park visitor center locations and contact information can be found at www.nps.gov/choh.