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Oral History

Recollections from someone who worked on the canal

Joseph Perry Mose

Mose was born November 27, 1898 in Sharpsburg, MD. As a baby, he used to go on the canal with his mother. When he was 10 he was driving mules. At age 12 or 13 he was steering the boat.

“There was 13 in his family, and of course when the boys got old enough, they got a job on the C&O Canal, It didn’t pay much, but they ate a lot of bean soup,” explained Jerome Mose, son of J.P. Mose, at a 2010 Canal Family Reunion.

Jerome reported that J.P. Mose continued working on the canal until he got married at age 21. So, J.P. Mose had experience working during the canal’s final years prior to shutdown in 1924.

Some of J.P. Mose’s recollections were captured in audio recordings. He died August 31, 1991.

  • In this July 30, 1986 recording, J.P. Mose discusses his experiences on the canal, including deliveries of coal to the naval gunpowder factory at Indian Head, MD. The audio is 14 minutes long in MP3 format.
  • You can hear J.P. Mose’s rendition of a song from his canal days. The audio is one minute long, again in MP3 format.
J.P. Mose portrait

Joseph Perry Mose at age 21

Canal boat model

In his later years, Mose built this model of a canal boat