On March 19, 1954 Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, reporters and thirty-two others began their eight-day hike to save the canal. From this assembly nine completed the entire hike. We know them as the “Immortal Nine.”
The C&O Canal Association traces its birth to the appointment of a chairman to organize a one-day hike the following year. These early events were called Reunion Hikes. Later they became Heritage Hikes. Today the spring event is known as the Douglas Hike. the Heritage Hike takes place in the fall.
The Association was incorporated in 1957, with the Lewis Schollenberger as its first president. The Association took the lead in the campaign that led to the creation of the C&O Canal National Historical Park in 1971.
Today, we remain an independent, all-volunteer organization of citizens concerned with the continued viability of the Park and all of its natural and historic resources. To help preserve and protect these resources, we readily assist the Park Service with both manpower and money. Additionally, we monitor conditions (both regulatory and physical) that could adversely affect the Park. We work to bring attention to these conditions and openly advocate on behalf of the Park.
Membership is open to all. Association activities include hikes, bike and canoe trips, a level walkers program and special projects to support park activities.
The C&O Canal Association sponsors a spring and fall hike, a continuing hike series on various Saturday and Sunday mornings throughout the year, bike trips on the towpath and canoe trips on the Potomac River.
An active Level Walkers Program is made up of volunteers who, on a regular basis, walk assigned sections of the towpath to publicize the Canal and the Association, collect trash, if needed, and provide written reports to the NPS on the physical condition of the towpath.