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Canal Boat Registration Documents

Hand-written boat register

Canal Company Boat Registers

"Registers Issued to Boats to Navigate the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, 1851 - 1861" was transcribed from original records material at the National Archives, College Park. It provides information such as the boats' names, registration dates, hailing place, dimensions, and ownership.

"Registers Issued to Boats to Navigate the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, 1862 - 1869" was transcribed from original records material at the National Archives, College Park. It provides information such as the boats' names, registration dates, hauling place, dimensions, and ownership. This period overlaps the Civil War. You will notice a few boats that were "Seized by Government" in 1862.

"Registers Issued to Boats to Navigate the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, 1873, 1874 & 1875" was transcribed from original records material at the National Archives, College Park. It lists the boats' names, owners, hailing place, and dimensions.

"Register of Boats Employed on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, Jan. 1st, 1878" was transcribed from original records material at the National Archives, College Park. It lists the boats' names, captains, owners, builders, the year in which they were built, and by whom they were employed.

"Register of Boats Moored at the Main Basin, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, June 10-14, 1880" provides information on persons living aboard the canal boats, transcribed from U.S. Census Reports, as well boat names from the 1878 boat register.

Boats Passing Lock 75

The lock keeper at Lock 75, the first outside Cumberland, kept a registry of boats passing. This record allowed auditors to check the tolls assessed by the official Collector in Cumberland. Unlike other locks, literacy was a requirement of the lock keeper's job at Lock 75. In the March 1873 payroll records, the keeper of "Way Bill Lock 75" was paid $10 more than the keepers of other nearby locks.

If you examine the register, you will notice that most descending boats are loaded with cargo, while the ascending boats are usually empty. You can also see that boats passed at all times of the day and night. Records from two years are available:

Boats Passing Outlet Lock May 1875

Register of Boats Passing Outlet Lock, May 1875 - We have this record of all boats passing through the Outlet Lock in Georgetown during May 1875. This document is a good companion to the Lock 75 registers upstream near Cumberland. If a boat appears in both lists, you get an idea on how long it took to travel the length of the canal. May 1875 is the only month for which we have this Outlet Lock record. We don't know why this register was kept.

Boats Departures Reported in Newspapers

"Register of Boats Employed on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal from The Alleganian Cumberland, MD and The Sun Baltimore, MD 1851" is a compilation based on newspaper reports. This document has two parts: the first listing being the coal freighting boats departing from Cumberland, and the second listing being the local boats arriving in Georgetown from intermediate points.

"Register of Boats Employed on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal from The Alleganian Allegany County, MD 1854" is a compilation based on Cumberland newspaper reports. This document lists local boats arriving in Georgetown from intermediate points during the first few months of the season.

"Register of Boats Employed on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal from The Cumberland Alleganian and The Cumberland Daily Times 1874" lists boats departing Cumberland with coal as reported in the city's two newspapers during 1874.

"Register of Boats Employed on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal from The Cumberland Alleganian and The Cumberland Daily Times and Evening Star and Critic-Record 1875" lists boats departing Cumberland with coal as reported in the city's two newspapers and two Washington DC newspapers during 1875.

"Register of Boats Employed on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal from The Cumberland Alleganian and The Cumberland Daily Times 1876" lists boats departing Cumberland with coal as reported in the city's two newspapers during 1876.

"Register of Boats Employed on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal from The Cumberland Alleganian 1878" lists boats departing Cumberland with coal as reported in the city's newspaper. In some instances, the register shows arrivals and departures at Alexandria and Georgetown, based on newspaper reports from the Alexandria and Washington DC.

"Register of Boats Employed on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal from From The Evening Times Allegany County, Md. and Evening Star Washington, D.C. 1894" lists boats departing Cumberland with coal as reported in these two newspapers. There are gaps in the newspaper coverage, but they do provide insight into life on the canal.

"Register of Boats Employed on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal from From The Evening Times Allegany County, Md. and Evening Star Washington, D.C. 1896" lists boats departing Cumberland with coal as reported in these two newspapers. There are gaps in the newspaper coverage, but they do provide insight into life on the canal.

Resources shown above are available in PDF format.


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