Launch boat rides offered at C&O Canal in Williamsport

Seats are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis

May 24, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • A modern image of the new park canal launch boat operating in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park at Williamsport.
Submitted photo

WILLIAMSPORT — Perhaps it will inspire a return of the spirit of Capt. Raleigh Bender.

For the first time since March 1924, when the local canal boat captain made his last trip on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, a launch boat will once again ply the canal’s waters in Williamsport this weekend, C&O Canal National Historical Park officials said.

Williamsport town officials and park officials, who have been working on ways to capitalize on tourism associated with the canal, have discussed having boats return to the old commercial shipping waterway.

A launch boat was built and brought to the canal in Williamsport last April for a test.

A few modifications were made on the boat, and it was returned to Williamsport about three weeks ago, C&O Canal Park Ranger Lisa Dittman said Thursday.

The boat was placed in the canal last week and is now docked at Lockhouse 44 near Williamsport, Dittman said.


On Saturday, canal officials will start offering rides on the boat at 10:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Rides will be offered the same times on Sunday, park officials said.

During this introductory year, no fee will be charged, and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis, a news release said. Boat rides will be canceled during bad weather, park officials said.

Visitors are being asked to sign up for the day they want to ride at the visitors center at the Cushwa Basin, she said.

Dittman said she expects the rides to continue through mid-August.

Williamsport has been working with other towns along the canal to capitalize on tourism. When the launch boat was tested in Williamsport in April, Mayor James G. McCleaf said the experience was hard to put into words.

“Williamsport has been (anticipating this) for many years,” Dittman said.

“The C&O Canal provides many unique opportunities for park visitors. However, it is only when traveling on the canal, on its waters, that one can truly relate to and appreciate the experience,” C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt said in the release.

The Herald-Mail Articles