"CHESEPEAKE AND OHIO NHP - INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS" Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park by mtncorg

'Internal Improvements' was a political catchword of the era of John Quincy Adams. 'Improvements' were normally seen as methods that facilitated transportation of goods and people throughout the new Nation, especially in an east-west fashion. The Cumberland Road was an early example and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is another (so was the Erie Canal, but that was a State project as opposed to the C&O which was Federal). The C&O ran from Georgetown in the District of Columbia - tidewater - to Cumberland in western Maryland from where the National Road took off, ending up eventually in Vandalia, Illinois on the banks of the great Mississippi River. The C&O Canal was an important transportation link of the time, taking 22 years to complete - from 1828 until 1850. The canal was never realy the two-way street of commerce that planners had envisioned, probably because it never connected up with the Ohio River sytem as initially planned. Most canal traffic went eastbound as the boats carried coal down from the Appalachians. Railroads eventually caused the demise of the canals and over the years, much of the canal was filled in.

There remain several sections with water within, however. In response to the possibility of a Parkway - ala Blue Ridge or Natchez Trace - Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas joined with others in eventually creating what became the C&O NHP, a linear park that covers almost 185 miles. The old original towpath has been restored - albeit, not paved for the most part - for walkers and those bikers with mountain bicycles. The C&O bike/towpath is soon to be hooked up with the Allegheny Trail which would allow non-car travel from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Washington, DC, a trip of some 380 miles one-way - see www.shaw-weil.com/linkup/ and www.ahtmtrail/org/ for more on the non-C&O parts of this trail. I have visited about half of the Park now - the Georgetown end, the Monocacy Aqueduct, the portion of the Canal from Harpers Ferry to Sharpsburg and the western end of the canal from its terminus in Cumberland eastward to Hancock.

  • Intro Updated Sep 22, 2008
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Reviews (8)

Comments (2)

  • cachaseiro's Profile Photo
    Nov 10, 2006 at 6:15 PM

    nice page mark. i just cycled the C&O canal this september myself. very nice trip it was.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Nov 5, 2006 at 3:14 PM

    Thanks, Mark. Yes, that tow/bicycle path looks like just the thing for me. Fine photos here! I remember riding on the old C&O railroad, never on the canal though.


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