The C&O Canal Association is an all-volunteer, independent organization of citizens dedicated to preserving and protecting the historical and natural resources of the 184-mile long Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (“the Park”).
Our Association was founded in 1954 by participants of the historic hike led by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas to bring public attention to preserving the canal right-of-way. Later, we took the lead in the campaign that created the Park in 1971. Today, we work with, and serve as an unofficial partner of, the Park. We also work closely with many community and regional organizations concerned with the canal.
What we do:
- We work/partner with the Park and other organizations to maintain and restore the canal’s historic structures.
- We help ensure the continuity and safety of, and public access to, the towpath stretching from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Md.
- We advocate for the continued viability of the Park.
How we do this:
- We provide funding to help maintain and restore the canal’s historic structures, such as aqueducts, locks, culverts, and lock houses.
- We initiate projects by providing financial assistance to the Park and coordinating funding with other organizations. These funds come from large and small donations we receive from our members and the general public.
- Our volunteers provide thousands of hours of work each year to ensure the accessibility, safety, and enjoyment of the towpath through a variety of organized activities, such as our level-walker program, invasive plant removal, and work parties.
- We educate the public about the canal. We lead and sponsor hikes, bike trips, paddle trips, open houses, and nature walks in an effort to educate participants and bring attention to the Park. We research canal history and publish the findings.
- Our status as an unofficial park partner allows us to advocate independently on behalf of the Park.