C&O Canal Web site marries technology, history

May 28, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- Clara Manning recalled how she was born on a C&O Canal boat and how she loved life on the water transportation route that operated during the 1800s and early 1900s.

The C&O Canal passed through Washington County on its route from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Md., and mules were used to pull canal boats along a towpath.

"I used to run them ol' planks from the boat to the towpath, and I'd drive them ol' mules and crawl up on the back of the hind mule and ride," said Manning, of Paw Paw, W.Va. "I loved it."

That is one of the many nuggets of history contained on a new Web site offered by the Western Maryland Regional Library at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown.


The Web site, which was launched Thursday, was celebrated by about 25 library representatives, C&O Canal National Historical Park officials, local elected officials and others Thursday night at a reception at the library.

A $6,100 grant from the PNC Foundation, which was obtained through the Maryland Historical Trust, was used to pay for the cost of digitizing historical information to be placed on the Web site and other work, library officials said.

The Web site offers historical photographs of the C&O Canal, maps and information about dams, locks, canal boats and towns along the canal.

The material came from the C&O Canal National Historical Park and individuals, said Mary Baykan, director of the library.

Also on the Web site are interviews with people who worked and lived on the canal. Among the interviews are the one with Manning.

The interviews, which were gathered for the National Park Service, are offered on the Web site in audio or by transcript.

Some of the material for the site was "bits and pieces" of material that have been in boxes, said Jill Craig, digital librarian for the Western Maryland Regional Library.

"So it's material that probably has not seen the light of day," Craig said.

On the Web

See the new C&O Canal Web site at

The Herald-Mail Articles