C&O Canal Assn logo
 C&O Canal Association

National Park Service News Releases

June 11, 2015 – C&O Canal NHP Issues a Finding of No Significant Impact for Restoration of Canal Operations at Hancock

Contact: Michelle Carter, Natural Resources Specialist, michelle_carter@nps.gov, 301-714-2225

WASHINGTON COUNTY, MD – The National Park Service, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, is issuing a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for Restoration of Canal Operations at Hancock, Maryland.

This decision document completes the initial planning and compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Historic Preservation Act.  As funding becomes available the park will be able to implement the Preferred Alternative identified in the project’s Environmental Assessment.  Funding is not immediately available to implement elements of the project.  The National Park Service plans to partner with the Town of Hancock and other stakeholders to seek appropriate sources of funding.

Elements of the plan identified in the Preferred Alternative include additional rewatering of the canal prism; physical improvements to the canal's historic locks and the Tonoloway aqueduct; relocation of the park’s maintenance facility and development of interpretive, educational and camping opportunities.   The project will provide visitors with a better understanding of the C&O Canal and its operations in the late 1800's near Hancock, MD.  

The Environmental Assessment & FONSI can be found at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/hancock.

May 20, 2015 – Williamsport Boat Tours and More Visitor Services Beginning Memorial Day Weekend

Contact: Kelly Fox, Acting District Ranger, kelly_fox@nps.gov, 301-582-0813

WILLIAMSPORT, MD –The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal NHP) welcomes visitors to the Cushwa Basin in Williamsport, Canal Place in Cumberland, Ferry Hill Plantation in Sharpsburg, Bowles House in Hancock, and Brunswick Visitor Center starting Memorial Day weekend.

“While stretching 184.5 miles from Georgetown to Cumberland, Maryland, there are many visitor centers, interpretive programs, and events to experience during the summer season,” Park Ranger Kelly Fox states. “In Western Maryland, each of our sites represent a critical time period in canal history, while also allowing visitors to explore history from the towpath.”

Experience the canal at the Cushwa Basin during a Replica Launch Boat Program starting Saturday, May 23 and Sunday, May 24, 2015.  Park Ranger-led 1 hour interpretive programs begin at 10:30am, 12:15pm, 1:30pm and 3:00pm at the Williamsport C&O Canal NHP Visitor Center. The programs are free of charge, but donations are welcome.

Tours will continue every Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, weather permitting.  Visitors are encouraged to stop by the Williamsport C&O Canal NHP Visitor Center and reserve their seat for this unique interpretive program. Seats are limited to 12 visitors per program and reservations will only be taken on the day of the tour.

Along with the Replica Launch Boat Program, the Williamsport C&O Canal NHP Visitor Center will also be open weekly Wednesday thru Sunday 9:00am – 4:30pm. For more information please contact the Williamsport C&O Canal NHP Visitor Center at 301-582-0813.

Canal Place in Cumberland, Maryland welcomes visitors seven days a week from 9:00am – 5:00pm as they learn C&O Canal history through interactive and educational displays. Please contract Canal Place at 301-722-8226 for more information.

Step back to the Civil War era when visiting Ferry Hill Plantation, the former home of Henry Kyd Douglas. Ferry Hill Planation welcomes visitors from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00am – 3:00pm. For more information, contact the Williamsport C&O Canal NHP Visitor Center at 301-582-0813.

Experience decades of history including the life of early settlers, as well as the C&O Canal by visiting the Bowles House in Hancock. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00am – 3:00pm. Contact the Williamsport C&O Canal NHP Visitor Center at 301-582-0813 for more information.

The Brunswick Visitor Center welcomes visitors Thursday and Friday 10:00am – 2:00pm, Saturday 10:00am – 4:00pm, and Sunday 1:00am – 4:00pm while learning how the C&O Canal and railroads influenced the creation of Brunswick. For more information, please contact the Brunswick Visitor Center at 301-834-7100.

For a complete list of interpretive programs and events along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, visit nps.gov/choh.

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.

May 11, 2015 – Towpath Repair and Resurfacing Mile Post 74 - 76

Contact:Greg Kniesler, 301-491-1165

HAGERSTOWN, MD – The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park announces the award for towpath repairs between Mile Marker 74 – 76, just above Lock 38 to Snyders Landing Boat Ramp. This work will start approximately the 11th of May. The total construction period will run approximately 2 months. The towpath will remain open to visitors with only minor (5 to 10 minute) delays expected.

The park regrets any inconvenience this may cause our visitors. Visitors are asked to exercise caution when using the towpath in this area. The pedestrians and cyclist will be allowed to pass through the construction site. Visitors are asked to follow the posted signs and adjust their travel accordingly.

February 6, 2015 – C&O Canal NHP Revises Fee Proposal

FAQs on Fee Proposal Posted Online

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

HAGERSTOWN, MD –Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) is revising its proposal to increase and expand entrance and other fees park-wide. Last month the park proposed expanding fee collection to include charging a park-wide recreation fee. At this point, we’re midway through robust public meetings. Having heard concerns over the proposal for new fees, the park has decided to rescind its proposal to expand fee collection.

The park is still proposing to moderately increase existing entrance, campground and pavilion rental fees only at park locations where fees are currently collected. 

“We have seen the great passion we all share for this park displayed over the course of three public meetings and have three more scheduled. At this point we’re modifying our proposal and will continue public dialog,” Superintendent Kevin Brandt said. 

After this revision, the proposed entrance fees that would become effective no sooner than May 1, 2015 are as follows:

Park Annual Pass:
·       Current: $20, Great Falls, MD only
·       Proposed: $30, Great Falls, MD only

Per Vehicle Pass:                 
·       Current: $5/vehicle for 3 days, Great Falls, MD only
·       Proposed: $15/vehicle for 7 days, Great Falls, MD only

Per Person Pass:
·       Current: $3/person for 3 days, Great Falls, MD only
·       Proposed: $7/person for 7 days, Great Falls, MD only

Motorcycle Pass:
·       Current: $5/motorcycle for 3 days, Great Falls, MD only
·       Proposed: $10/motorcycle for 7 days, Great Falls, MD only

The park is are also proposing to increase fees for campgrounds and picnic pavilions. Comparability studies have been completed to determine rates. The proposals are as follows:

Drive-In Campgrounds:  
·       Single Site Rate: Current: $10 per night, Proposed $20 per night
·       Group Site Rate: Current $20 per night, Proposed $40 per night

Hiker-Biker Camping Sites:
·       Current: No Charge, no changed proposed
Picnic Pavilion: Carderock Pavilion
·       Monday-Thursday: Current $150 per day, Proposed $250 per day
·       Friday-Sunday & Holidays: Current $250 per day, Proposed $350 per day

To provide comments on the revised fee increase proposal, go to:  http://parkplanning.nps.gov/cocanalfees. The public comment period will remain open until February 22, 2015.

The park will continue to hold public meetings as follows:

February 9, 2015, at Hancock Town Hall, 126 West High Street, Hancock, MD from 6:30-8:00 PM

February 11, 2015, at Storer Ballroom at the Shepherd University Student Center, 210 North King Street, Shepherdstown, WV, from 6:30-8:00 PM

February 17, 2015, at Brunswick City Park Building, 655 East Potomac Street, Brunswick, MD, from 6:30-8:00 PM

January 5, 2015 – C&O Canal Invites Feedback on Proposal to Increase and Expand Entrance and Other Fees Park-wide

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

HAGERSTOWN, MD – Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) in compliance with a nation-wide review on updating entrance fees is inviting the public to comment on proposed entrance and other fee increases.  Fees collected at the park are critical to the park's operation, and 100%of the fees collected at the C&O Canal are invested in park projects that improve facilities and experiences for park visitors.

In a memo dated September 5, 2014, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, authorized park superintendents to begin a civic engagement process associated with increasing entrance fees within units of the National Park System. In an effort to standardize entrance fees, the 131 units that charge entrance fees have been placed in one of four categories based on size, complexity of operations and typical visitation patterns. To arrive at greater consistency around the Service, parks have been asked to bring their fees into compliance with others within their category.  C&O Canal is in Category 1. Other similar parks within Category 1 in this region include: Antietam National Battlefield; Fort Washington Park; Great Falls Park, Virginia; Harpers Ferry National Historical Park; Manassas National Battlefield Park, and Prince William Forest Park.

C&O Canal’s current park entrance fee has been in place since 2002. The only location in the park where an entrance fee is charged is at the Great Falls Tavern area off of MacArthur Boulevard in Potomac, MD. The park proposes to expand entrance fee collection to all areas of the park outside of the District of Columbia and to implement a parking fee at Fletchers Cove.  As part of this fee expansion, the park proposes to discontinue the reciprocal agreement currently in place with Great Falls Park, Virginia, which allows visitors to purchase a day pass or annual pass that is valid at both the C&O Canal and Great Falls Park, VA entrance stations.  

The park also proposes to extend the daily pass effective dates from three days to seven days to better align with popular recreational activities, such as cycling the 184.5 mile towpath.

The proposed entrance/parking fees that would become effective no sooner than May 1, 2015 are as follows:

 Park Annual Pass:

Per Vehicle Pass:                 

Per Person Pass:

Motorcycle 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.

C&O Canal NHP is also proposing to increase or institute fees for campgrounds, picnic pavilions and parking at Fletchers Cove. Comparability studies have been completed to determine rates. The proposals are as follows:

Drive-In Campgrounds

Hiker-Biker Camping Sites: Current: No Charge, Proposed $20 per night

Picnic Pavilion: Carderock Pavilion

Parking: Fletchers Cove - There is currently no parking charge; however, the option to establish a parking charge is being evaluated and proposed for comment.

“We are committed to keeping the park affordable and providing visitors with the best possible experiences,” Superintendent Kevin Brandt said. “Fee revenue is absolutely critical to the park operation, and we ask for the public's feedback and support. National Parks are still one of America's best bargains. I don't know of anything a family can do for 7 days for just $15. The entrance fee provides full access to the park including: the historic towpath; more than 17 miles of backcountry trails; numerous visitor centers and interpretive programs and access to the Potomac River. The park is a popular place where people come to recreate, to learn, to be challenged physically and to be inspired and renewed; however, the park cannot run itself for free, and our fee revenue is essential to providing for public safety, recreation and resource protection.”

Entrance fees have supported a wide range of projects that improved park conditions and visitor experience including: restoration of the Great Falls Tavern, Western Maryland Railroad Lift Bridge, Lockhouse 44, Ferry Hill Plantation and Hancock Visitor Centers; new picnic tables, grills and fire rings for campgrounds throughout park; developing and installing exhibits in visitor centers such as Great Falls and Ferry Hill Plantation; repairing park wells and hand pumps; removing trees from the canal, installation of a water fountain in Williamsport; restoration of historic lockhouses; improving ADA accessibility at park comfort stations, repairing replica canal boats used in interpretive and education programs, and rehabilitation of the CCC era restroom in Great Falls into a space for the free Bike Loaner program. Additional revenue raised by a fee increase could be used to restore additional historic structures such as Swains Lockhouse;  Conococheague, Tonoloway and Seneca Creek aqueducts ; expand the park’s ability to maintain the towpath; improve campground safety by establishing campground host sites at drive-in campgrounds; restore water in the canal between Lock 5 and Anglers; extend the re-watered section of the canal in Hancock; preservation work on the Paw Paw Tunnel; improve river access at Fletchers Cove and Dam #4, and increase interpretive and educational programming park-wide.   

The C&O Canal is a strong economic engine for the area. In 2013, the C&O Canal hosted nearly 5 million visitors who contributed more than $80 million to the local economy and supported more than 1,000 jobs related to tourism.

To provide comments on the proposed fee increases, go to:  http://parkplanning.nps.gov/cocanalfees    The public has the opportunity to comment on the increases for a 48-day period ending on February 22, 2015. Written comments should be provided through this website.

Interested citizens are invited to discuss the proposed fee increases at public meetings to be held in various locations around the park as follows:

Following the comment period and public meetings, feedback will determine how, or if, a fee increase would be implemented.

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.

October 23, 2014 – C&O Canal Association provides bus funding for Washington County Public School fourth graders

Contact: Dward Moore, President, C&O Canal Association, president@candocanal.org, 301- 983-0825
Hollie Lynch, Education Coordinator, (301) 491-0149, Hollie_lynch@nps.gov

WILLIAMSPORT, MD. – On Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 11:00, students from Bester Elementary School, part of Washington County Public Schools, participated in a check hand-off event with members from the C&O Canal Association at the C&O Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal) Cushwa Basin in Williamsport, Maryland.group posing with check

The generous amount donated by the C&O Canal Association, a non-profit organization, covers the cost of bus transportation to bring every fourth grader from Washington County Public Schools to the C&O Canal for an education field trip during the 2014-15 school year. The $4,000 donation is part of a larger 2013 pledge of $30,000 on behalf of the C&O Canal Association to assist schools seeking bus funding to visit the C&O Canal. This marks the second consecutive year of support from the pledge. The C&O Canal Association has provided students from Washington County and other school districts bus funding for several years.

“The Association is pleased to provide bus transportation to the fourth-grade students of Washington County. They are our future. If the Park is to survive, we must engage everyone, especially the younger generation,” said C&O Canal Association president, Dward Moore.

As a result of this important donation, 65 Bester students spent their day learning in an outdoor classroom at their local national park. During their visit students participated in a variety of hands-on, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) based lessons that are both engaging and fun. Education programs were developed in partnership with Washington County Public School teachers and are part of a growing education program in the park, Canal Classrooms, which features PreK-12 options for curriculum education at the C&O Canal. All programs identify with national and state curriculum standards and include pre/post visit materials.

“We are very grateful for the great partnership with the C&O Canal Association,” said C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt. “Without their support it would be impossible for so many students to visit the park each year and participate in a curriculum education program. “

The C&O Canal Classrooms education program focuses on building a sustainable program, which it hopes to attain, in part, through leveraging partnerships. A Transportation Scholarship Fund, which offers bus stipends to schools planning field trips, was established to help provide opportunities for more students to visit and learn about the C&O Canal. For more information on Canal Classrooms visit www.nps.gov/choh or email the Park at cocanaleducation@nps.gov.

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