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C&O Canal access at other local towns

July 20, 2009

Following is information about how to get to the C&O Canal and its towpath from area towns:

o Shepherdstown, W.Va. -- Shepherdstown has a nearby bridge across the Potomac River, which provides access to the C&O Canal. The bridge has a concrete ramp that zig-zags through a wooded area below the bridge to the canal. The 1,100-foot bridge, which was completed in September 2005 at a cost of $18.9 million, also has a lighted sidewalk. Parking is available along the canal across from Shepherdstown.

o Williamsport -- Williamsport has an attractive access to the C&O Canal near the Cushwa turning basin, said Cathy McCullom, regional director of Trail Towns, an organization that has been helping local towns assess their tourism potential. But the problem is that people who do not know about Williamsport and who arrive at the town on the canal would not know the downtown area is there, McCullom said.

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That is because the town's trail access is below the downtown area and it is impossible to see it from there, McCullom said.

Among the attractions in Williamsport is a nice town museum, McCullom said.

"But users don't know that," McCullom said.

o Hancock -- Hancock has an excellent, level access to the C&O Canal, said Sinclair Hamilton, a member of the Hancock Town Council. There are several spots in town where people can access the towpath, and there is boat ramp to the Potomac River, which is popular among fishermen and boating enthusiasts, Hamilton said. Hancock has typically been a popular place for people to visit because areas around Hancock are hilly and rural, prompting people to go into town to rest, Hamilton said.

o Brunswick, Md. -- Brunswick has close access to the C&O Canal, and canal users often leave the towpath to eat at restaurants in town, Brunswick City Council member Walt Stull said. There is a bicycle rental shop in town, a C&O Canal visitors center, the Brunswick Railroad Museum and the Brunswick Family Campground, a popular spot that has 65 electric and water hookups, three pavilions and a bathhouse, Stull said.

"We don't do a whole lot of advertising, but it's filled on major weekends. We have to turn people away," Stull said.

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