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 C&O Canal Association

National Park Service News Releases

October 27, 2015 – C&O Canal Announces New Chief of Interpretation, Education & Partnerships

Contact: Hollie Lynch, Public Affairs Assistant, 301-491-0149

HAGERSTOWN, MD – The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) is pleased to announce Catherine Bragaw has been selected as the park’s Chief of Interpretation, Education & Partnerships effective October 18, 2015.

In her new role, Catherine will be responsible for the day to day interpretive, education and volunteer/partnership operations of the C&O Canal, which directly impacts the experience of more than 5 million annual visitors. The diversity of responsibilities is evident in the unique characteristics of the C&O Canal’s resources and operations which range from robust interpretive, education and volunteer programs spanning the state of Maryland and into the District of Columbia.  

“As the national parks approach their centennial in 2016 and plan for a second century of engagement with the American public, Catherine is ideally qualified to serve as the park’s Chief of Interpretation, Education & Partnerships,” stated C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin D. Brandt. “Catherine brings more than 30 years of experience leading park education and interpretive programs. Her depth of knowledge in this field is unmatched and she has demonstrated her creativity and passion for engaging and inspiring visitors of all ages.”

Over the course of her career working for the National Park Service, Catherine developed, delivered and managed education, interpretive and living history programs at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Her passion for serving the local community led to the creation of long-lasting partnerships with local schools, health care providers, and more. As a result of her work, hundreds of thousands of park visitors have had memorable experiences, engaging with cultural and natural resources, and learning about their local heritage. In 2013, Catherine began working as the East District Interpretive Supervisory Ranger at the C&O Canal in Potomac, MD. During this time, Catherine oversaw interpretive operations including a historic mule-drawn canal boat program, and the creation and pilot of new curriculum-based education programming for K-12 audiences. She also led several projects working with park staff and partners to make improvements to the site and was successful in receiving several grant applications for non-facility projects. “The C&O Canal is one of America’s greatest treasures; where stories of American labor and ingenuity intersect with great beauty, precious ecosystems and rejuvenating recreation,” stated Catherine. “I look forward to collaborating with park colleagues, volunteers, partners and communities in making the C&O the best it can be.”

Catherine is a native of the DC area. Her family moved to Frederick County as she entered 1st grade.  She earned her undergraduate degree from Hood College in Political Science with an emphasis in American Studies. Her graduate degree in Educational Leadership was earned from West Virginia University. Catherine resides in Ranson, West Virginia and has a large family that includes 1 dog, 1 cat, 5 children, and 7 grandchildren.

October 15, 2015 – Safety Improvement Project on Entrance and Access Roads to Great Falls Tavern Area in Potomac, MD

Contact: John Adams, 301-745-5804, john_adams@nps.gov

POTOMAC, MD – Starting October 5, 2015 through January 12, 2016, safety improvement work will be performed on the entrance and access roads in the Great Falls Tavern area in Potomac, Maryland.  The project was developed to improve road safety, improve vehicle flow at the fee collection booth, and enhance emergency vehicles access to the towpath and park area.  The road project will be managed by the Federal Highway Administration through a contract awarded to Pavkov Contracting Company from Sumter SC for $476,849.

On October 12, the contractor will begin work on the turn before the fee booth to increase the super elevation of the turn, and install guardrails, additional signage, and pavement markers.  This work can occur during or after park hours.  If the work is during park hours, visitors will be directed through the construction area with the use of flagmen.  Motorists are asked to drive slowly and use caution.  Due to the removal of asphalt and the uneven surfaces, bicyclists are requested to avoid using the entrance road during this construction period.  Weather permitting, the construction on entrance road will be completed by November 30, 2015.

In addition to the safety improvements of the entrance road, the contractor will be installing traffic control gates at the fee booth.  Two gates will be installed on the entrance lanes and one gate will be installed on the exit lane.  Although gates will be installed during non-park hours, visitors are asked to use caution when traveling through the area.  Once the gates are installed, small vehicles and bikes will use the lane next to the fee booth to enter the park.  Oversized vehicles including large trucks, buses and motorhomes will use the wider outside lane. 

The final phase of this project will be the widening and realignment of the access road behind the public restrooms near the Great Falls Tavern and Visitor Center.  This will allow easier, quicker and safer access to the towpath and river for emergency response vehicles.  During construction, all visitors are asked to use the sidewalk and stay out of the construction area.   Work for this final phase can occur during or after park hours.

August 3, 2015 – Northern Snakehead Fish Found Above Great Falls

Contact: Andrew Landsman, Biologist, Andrew_Landsman@nps.gov, 301-739-6072

POTOMAC, MD –The C&O Canal National Historical Park, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have recently discovered the non-native northern snakehead fish within the park’s canal system above Great Falls.

After visitor reports of the snakehead fish in 2014, biologists from the agencies discovered several snakehead fish in the canal waters between Great Falls and Violette’s Lock.  The snakehead fish has become firmly established in the Patuxent River and other fresh and low-salinity tidal waterways in Maryland and Virginia, but has not previously been found in the non-tidal Potomac River system above Great Falls.  An aggressive and predatory fish, the snakehead poses a great risk to many of our native and game fish species both within the canal and in the upper Potomac River.

The National Park Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are working together to develop programs to monitor and control the presence and abundance of snakehead fish both in the canal and the upper Potomac River.  As fishing pressure has proved effective in reducing snakehead populations in tidal areas, the park is requesting that anglers pursue, catch, and remove any snakehead fish caught within the Potomac River system.  Please note that there is no seasonal, size, or creel limits for snakehead.  If you observe or catch a snakehead fish within Maryland, please send your observation to fishingreports.dnr@maryland.gov.  DO NOT release snakehead fish back into the canal or Potomac River.

It is a violation of state laws and the federal Lacey Act to possess, import, or transport live northern snakehead fish, punishable by fines up to $250,000 and five years in prison.

May 12, 2015 – Entrance and Camping Fees at C&O Canal NHP Increase June 1

Contact: John Noel, Deputy Superintendent, 301-714-2201, or john_noel@nps.gov

HAGERSTOWN, MD – Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) will charge increased entrance, amenity and camping fees beginning June 1, 2015, only in locations where fees currently are collected.

Entrance Fees
Collected at Great Falls, Maryland Only


Starting June 1

Annual Pass*



Vehicle Rate



Motorcycle Rate



Per Person Rate



*The reciprocal fee agreement with Great Falls Park, Virginia will remain in place for the annual park pass.

Entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years of age or holders of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Senior, Access or Military Passes. These passes may be obtained at the park. In addition, the park offers at least six fee-free days per year.

Amenity Fees


Starting June 1

Drive In Campgrounds (Single Tent Sites)



Drive-In Group Campgrounds



Carderock Group Picnic Pavilion (Mon-Thurs)



Carderock Group Picnic Pavilion (Fri-Sun & federal holidays)



 “We would like to thank all the members of the public who took time to express their thoughts and opinions in person and online over the past few months. We have seen the great passion we all share for this park,” C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt said.  “These fees collected here, stay here and are put to work improving facilities and services important to visitors and our neighbors who enjoy the great historical, natural and recreational resources at C&O Canal.”

In the fall of 2014, the National Park Service conducted a nationwide review of entrance fees. To solicit public input, C&O Canal launched a civic engagement campaign in January and February 2015. This decision reflects public comment received during that outreach.

December 19, 2014 – C&O Canal Association receives grant from 2014 Challenge Cost Share Program

Contact: Ben Helwig, Acting Chief, Interpretation, Education and Partnerships, 301-491-6259

CUMBERLAND, MD – Today the National Park Service and the Outdoor Foundation announced recipients of the 2014 Challenge Cost Share Program, which supports projects that promote urban outreach, youth engagement and connecting people to the outdoors. The partners selected 20 projects, from 187 applications, and will award nearly $400,000 that will be matched by an additional $885,000 in direct and in-kind contributions from recipients. A total of 14,000 youth are expected to be engaged through the program.

The C&O Canal Association received $15,000 to support its work to engage Maryland school children as well as nearby Pennsylvania and West Virginia youth at the replica canal boat The Cumberland.  Located in Cumberland, Maryland, the full-sized replica canal boat is used to interpret the canal story to elementary and middle school children in the region.  The project is being completed in conjunction with Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park and a second park partner, the Canal Place Preservation & Development Authority (CPPDA). Grant funds will allow for replacement of boat decking, window repair, improvement of the drainage systems and other work to extend the life of the boat. 

Situated at the terminus of the C & O Canal and built in 1976 as a Bicentennial project, The Cumberland allows National Park Service staff a great opportunity to introduce local youth to the history of the canal at Cumberland and the environmental connections between the C &O Canal and the Potomac River. About 2,500 visitors, primarily school children, tour the boat each year; however, with improvements and repairs to the boat, coupled with a major expansion of park curriculum based education programs at Cumberland, we expect to double visitation to “The Cumberland”.

“C&O Canal Association is pleased to expand our support to the educational opportunities of the C&O Canal NHP in Cumberland.  This matching grant will permit completion of the deferred repairs and should result in another 20 years of service for the replica boat.  What a great opportunity this presents”, says William Bauman, a member of the Association’s Board of Directors.

 “Nowhere else in the western district of the park, can students get a hands-on understanding of the C&O Canal from a boatman’s perspective,” stated C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt, “Youth are able to climb aboard the Cumberland and step back into the 19th century, exploring a range of topics from family life to the design and operation of cargo boats on the canal.”

“Repairs to The Cumberland were critical,” said Deidra Ritchie, Executive Director, CPPDA, “We could not have moved forward with the repairs if not for the C&O Canal Association and the National Park Service's time and funding.  It is a perfect example of partnerships and we certainly appreciate all the time and effort.”

C&O Canal Association members have been helping staff The Cumberland replica canal boat during scheduled student tours for many years.  The Association is now seeking volunteers who will help staff the boat on summer weekends and thus have the boat open to the general public, in addition to the scheduled student tours.  Please visit http://www.candocanal.org/volunteer.html for more info.

The Challenge Cost Share Program supports National Park Service parks and programs that are aligned with partners that promote urban outreach, youth engagement, and/or connecting people to the outdoors. The initiative requires a 1:1 match by the local recipient -- resulting in greater financial leverage and impact. In addition, the Outdoor Foundation is actively seeking additional support for the selected projects. Program priorities include:

 “The Outdoor Foundation is thrilled to partner with the National Park Service to reconnect Americans to their national parks and engage a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “The Challenge Cost Share program is one of the most effective initiatives that leverages public and private funds and invests in local partnerships that deliver results.”

The Outdoor Foundation

The Outdoor Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor leaders and enthusiasts. Through groundbreaking research, youth engagement and community grant-making, the Foundation works with young leaders and partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all Americans to the great outdoors. In just five years, the Foundation has invested $4 million into 500 not-for-profit and college programs that have connected 200,000 young people to the outdoors. Importantly, 90¢ of every dollar goes directly into this critical work. Visit us at OutdoorFoundation.org.

     C & O Canal Association     P.O Box 366      Glen Echo, MD 20812-0366     Phone: 301-983-0825      Email: inquiries@candocanal.org