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24th annual C&O Canal Days

August 23, 2000

24th annual C&O Canal Days



By KATE COLEMAN / Staff Writer


WILLIAMSPORT - The 24th annual C&O Canal Days will help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the completion of the C&O Canal.

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The weekend festivities will begin with music and dance Friday evening. There will be trolley rides, arts and crafts, more music, food, a pool party and a boatload of exhibits and demonstrations throughout the weekend.

The centerpiece of the festivities is, of course, the C&O Canal. Lock 44, about a quarter mile downstream from the Visitors Center at Cushwa Basin on the Potomac riverfront, has been reconstructed and rehabilitated. There will be a dedication ceremony during Canal Days Saturday, Aug. 26, at 10:30 a.m.

The digging of the canal began on July 4, 1828. Twenty-two years later it stretched 184.5 miles alongside the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Md. It was used to transport coal, lumber, grain and other products to market. The towpath, now familiar to hiking boots, running shoes and bicycle tires, knew the slow-paced hooves of the mules that pulled the boats.

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Because there was a 605-foot difference in elevation between the Western Maryland mountains end point and the canal's starting place in the nation's capital, the canal contains 74 lift locks that adjusted the water levels.

The four-year-long rehabilitation of Lock 44 - during which most of the masonry work was dismantled and rebuilt - is the first step in making it an "interpretive area," according to a National Park Service press release. The long-term plan, looking ahead a year or two, is to have Lock 44 operational, said Debbie Conway, National Park Service interpretive officer. The lock in Williamsport will demonstrate how the C&O Canal locks worked.




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