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 C&O Canal Association

Historical Documents

Records concerning the C&O Canal and the people who made it work

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Davies book title pageBook:

The Geology and Engineering Structures of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, written by William E. Davies, is an invaluable reference for students of the C&O Canal. The 636-page book is a 1989 draft of a lifetime work by Davies, a noted geologist and expert on flooding. Although published after his death and unfinished, this work is a mile-by-mile description of structures and formations along the 184-mile length of the canal. Even though the document is a combination of typewritten pages and hand-written notes, online readers can use the search features of their software to locate relevant material.

Canal Operations:

"Double Boat Report", written in December 1879, provides a cost analysis of different alternatives for operating canal boats. The author experimented with lashing two canal boats together, using only one crew and one team of four mules to operate the pair. He also analyzes the option of using a steam-powered canal boat to tow a second non-powered boat.

Alleganian masthead (Source: Western Maryland Regional Library)

Newspaper Reports:

Contemporary accounts from Cumberland and other regional newspapers concerning the C&O Canal.

Payroll Records:

Payroll records have been transcribed using documents from the National Archives and the Lilly Lievsay Collection. This list of the men and women who worked on the C&O Canal can yield insights into the nature of the canal.

Compilations Of Canal Boat Mortgages:

These compilations of canal boat mortgages give an insight into the operations of the canal during its heyday.

Family portraitFamily Histories:

Stories of the families that lived along the C&O Canal and made it work. William Bauman drew upon personal recollections and public records to prepare these documents

Joseph P Mose portraitOral History:

We are lucky enough to have audio recordings from people who worked and lived along the C&O Canal.

Canal Boat Registration Documents:

Hand-written boat register

Lists of boats registered to operate on the canal and logs of the boat traffic as it passed Lock 75. Reading these documents you can get a sense of the cargo flow on the canal and the intensity of operations. If you are researching your family history, you may be able to find an ancestor.


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