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C&O Canal Trust

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Environment, History Museums

Mission: To work in partnership with the national park service to protect, restore and promote the c&o canal national historical park. The trust seeks to ensure that the park's natural, historical, and recreational potential is fully realized. Its goals are as follows:1. Reestablishing and preserving the continuity of the towpath;2. Creating locally appropriate destinations throughout the park by rehabilitating historic structures, including locks, rewatering select sections of the canal, providing and accommodating passenger boat access, expanding recreational access and amenities;3. Developing and delivering high quality educational, interpretive and volunteer programs;4. Restoring the ecological health of the park; and5. Building a broad constituency to be a voice for years to come.

Geographic areas served: Maryland, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia

Programs: Interpretation and education: as the official non-profit partner of the c&o canal national historical park, the c&o canal trust works closely with the nps to develop and manage unique and innovative interpretive programs that enhance the visitor experience. 1)the popularity of the c&o canal trust's canal quarters program continues to increase. The six restored lockhouses provide a unique interpretive experience from six different periods in the history of the c&o canal. The program accommodated 2,172 overnight paying guests in fy14. Additionally, 6 free open house days provided access for 225 visitors from the non-paying public. 2)the c&o canal trust's canal discoveries program, provides a virtual guide to many of the stories and places along the full length of the canal, narrated by a nps ranger. A total of over 50 sites are now available online. In addition, audio podcasts have been added to busy discoveries sites in the park on diverse topics such as lockkeepers, floods and canal legends. The trust has created a plan to integrate these stories into their trip planning website. 3)the c&o canal trust provided critical funds to support the park's innovative canal classrooms program which delivers curriculum-based stem instruction to area schoolchildren in an "outdoor classroom" setting at the canal. The c&o canal trust hired retired school teachers for this program on a stipend basis so that canal classrooms is not only efficient, it can be scaled upwards as more funding sources are identified

volunteer engagementthe c&o canal trust actively recruits and oversees several volunteer programs to provide meaningful opportunities for the public to contribute to the care and support of the park. 1)the c&o canal trust mobilized 1,342 volunteers during its 7th annual c&o canal pride days to donate $242,278. 55 worth of in-kind labor to multiple projects in the park. 2) the c&o canal trust funded appreciation dinners for park volunteers. 3) the c&o canal trust continued to expand its quartermasters program to provide volunteer support for the upkeep and general maintenance of the canal quarters lockhouses.

community outreach and engagement:the c&o canal trust as the official non-profit partner of the c&o canal national historical park connects with its local communities, identifying priorities and engaging their support in key park initiatives. 1)the c&o canal towns partnership provides regional economic development and community enhancement on behalf of eight communities along the canal reaping the benefits of trail-based tourism and recreation. In fy14, the c&o canal trust continued to serve as the fiscal agent for the partnership and helped support tourism in nearby communities. 2) in fy14, as part of the "towpath forever initiative", the c&o canal trust raised funds via their park after dark celebration to be used for preservation and maintenance projects throughout the park.

Community Stories

18 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked with the C & O Canal Trust on several occasions and have found the staff and board to be dedicated and passionate professionals. Of particular value has been their work in engaging the communities that border the Canal Towpath and National Historic Park; not only in increasing appreciation of the asset and resource but also in improving the visitor experience in the region.

On several occasions I have also recommended to friends and colleagues, a stay in the Canal Quarters. To a person they have not been disappointed and rank the experience at the top of the list.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I serve as a volunteer for the C&O Canal in the capacity of lead Quartermaster for one of the restored Lock Houses that are available for overnight stays. I take great delight in showing off this Lock House that was built about 1830 and is now furnished in antique furniture from that period. It is a very rewarding experience to watch the reaction of visitors to the Lock House and to read all the positive comments left by the guests who stay in the Lock House.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was the first Chair of the Board, for 4 years, and continued on the Board 2 more years until my term limit was reached last year.

As a friends group to the National Park Service, the Trust has both followed in the footsteps of other successful friends groups and been an award-winning trend-setter as well.

I have always felt that getting the Canal Quarters Program into place - with close collaboration of the NPS - was is a signature accomplishment, and it has become a big benefit to the public. Staying overnight in an historic lockhouse is absolutely unforgettable, and it helps us better understand the remarkable people who built and operated the canal. I highly recommend an overnight stay for families and friends. Next time I do a stay it will be for 2 consecutive nights so we can have more time to savor the experience.

Karen218

Volunteer

Rating: 4

In a time when our national parks are increasingly showing the effects of underfunding and the staff are less and less able to manage their mandated responsibilities due to the inadequate staffing in an underfunded era, our C&O Canal Trust shows up again and again in some of the breaches, assisting with and helping to fund critical projects, and bringing improvements that would not happen without them. Not surprisingly for an excellent non-profit, the staff of the trust are dedicated, hard-working, imaginative, and a joy to be around. Thank goodness we have the Trust!

Karen214

Volunteer

Rating: 5

One of the best memories of my life is staying in a canal lockhouse with my parents and brother. My parents dressed in period clothing and greeted visitors walking along the trail. We were immersed in history and nature the entire stay creating lasting family memories.

Debby C.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have stayed at all of the Lockhouses opened for guests during the past two years. Each one has its own different experience. Some our primitive with no amenities and others have all the amenities. I like staying at the primitive lockhouses most of all because they allow me to experience how life was in the days of the canal. I had Thanksgiving Dinner at Lockhouse 22 in Pennyfield. I cooked my ham and potatoes over the open fire and it was a great dinner. It makes me realize just how much time it took to just take care of household chores and cook during that time period. I think it is a wonderful experience everybody should have. It certainly shows how hard life was during the canal days. I stay in the Lockhouses every chance I have. Lockhouse 22,49, 28, and 25 are among my favorites. I spent New Years in Lockhouse 49 and had a wonderful stay. I am hoping to stay in one of the Lockhouses again in the near future. It is a wonderful time and the towpath is a great place for bike riding. It is also a great treat to sit by the fire under the stars.

Board Member

Rating: 5

The best holiday gift we received last year was an overnight stay in one of the C&O Canal Lockhouses, managed by the C&O Canal Trust. Being able to ride our bikes on the Towpath and then sit on the lockhouse porch and wave to passersby, watching the stars come out that night, and then getting up early the next morning to experience the Towpath with no one else there--it was magical!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Canal is a tremendous recreation resource that enhances the lives of millions of residents and visitors. We always take our out of town friends there since it is a unique experience for them. The primitive natural vistas at Great Falls and Billy Goat Trail are all the more remarkable since they are only a 30 minute drive from our bustling Capital City.

The Trust does a valiant job helping with maintenance and organizing programs that enable families to enjoy the park.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

My wife and I always loved riding our bikes on the C&O Canal for many years before we were married. Once we were married we heard about the Canal Quarters program that allows you to spend a night in a restored lockhouse and we made plans to stay in Lockhouse 10. After spending a hot August day riding from the lockhouse down to Washington and back we made ourselves at home in the circa 1930s furnishings and had a very memorable evening! You really can get a feel for what life was like 80 years ago while at the same time knowing that you are in a safe place. As an added bonus, the living room is filled with books and pictures of the time when the canal was fully functioning so you can really envision what the canal looked like back in the day. I would highly recommend this as a great opportunity for any couple or family to do for at least one night to make a great memory!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Canal Trust is a fantastic organization! Not only do they provide substantial financial assistance to the C&O Canal National Historical Park, but they also educate users in the Park's mission and history. Their help with the C&O Canal Towns Partnership is priceless. This is an organization that definitely puts its money where its mouth is!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a board member of a group called the Canal Towns Partnership. We have been helped by the C&O Canal Trust. The C&O Canal Trust became the fiduciary agent for our group allowing us to forgo becoming a 501(C)3. This saved us time and money. The C&O Canal Trust also donated $25,000.00 to our group so that we could set up a web site. This website allows us to keep the public informed about our towns and helps us to attract them to our towns. This a of great importance to many of our Canal Towns as tourism is one of the few growth industries we have. The C&O Canal Trust was one of our founding members and has been a good partner and a great help.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

This charity works hand-in-hand with the Park Superintendent and is not really independent of it in any real sense. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. It's good when the C&O NHP wants to accomplish something that is in the public's interest yet public funding is either unavailable or so tied up with red tape that's it's effectively unavailable. But this Trust won't ever speak up for anything that might be unappreciated by the Park Superintendent, regardless of its merits, so effectively this nonprofit is not at all independent in the way that the public might be led into thinking.

So on balance, the C&O Canal Trust is a good vehicle for the C&O Superintendent to get some worthwhile projects done, but as a nonprofit, it falls below the expectations associated with truly independent organizations.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a long time advisor for teen age Girl Scouts. One of the girls who had been with another troop really enjoyed her stay at the Canal Quarters at lockhoue 6 and convinced our girls that we should do a lockhouse stay. We stayed at lockhouse 49 near mile 108 in the early summer The girls had a blast since staying in the lockhouse was like luxary camping. Five teen girls and two leaders stayed overnight and then continued on to visit Gettysburg the next day. We did a hike on towpath and read about the history of the area and the furnishings. The girs loved the trundle beds and we cooked breakfast the next morning and did a tidy up of the facility before we left. It was a true step back in time. reservations and instructions were easy to follow.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Since moving to Maryland many years ago, I have greatly enjoyed hiking and biking in the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The park's 185 mile long path (i.e., “towpath”) runs alongside the Potomac River and for those who love the outdoors and history, it is a real treasure. However, like most National Parks it is long on value and short on support. The nonprofit C&O Canal Trust is working hard to provide financial, volunteer and other resources that enhance the visitor experience, from the innovative Canal Quarters program to the Canal Discoveries online guide. As a member of their volunteer Advisory Board, I see first-hand the tireless efforts of the Trust's staff to protect, restore and promote this remarkable place. If you haven't visited the park please make plans to do so. If you have then you understand the myriad reasons for returning--and for supporting the work of the C&O Canal Trust.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

retired couple moved from DC too w near the C&O tow path where we walk dogs Nd bike and stroll Nd sometimes take days long camping trips. It's been 15 years and every time we go out it gives us a renewed appreciation of the park and the park community. For several years now we have taken a Saturday mornings a year to "get (our) pride on", painting and weeding a d otherwise assisting in canal spruce up. It's a joy to pitch in along side families and young people and other oldsters.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

We stayed in lockhouse 6 last year. There were great pictures on the walls showing Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas walking the canal back in the 50's when he was trying to save it from being developed. Lockhouse 6 is decorated in the 1950's so a decorative plate with Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower greeted us in the kitchen. We biked into DC, watched Georgetown crew boats navigate the Potomac and biked past the Lincoln memorial. Its a great location! In the evening we would walk the towpath at sunset. There is a side porch that is great for just hanging out and enjoying the park. We had plans to stay this year in lockhouse 10 but the government shutdown stopped that. But we look forward to rescheduling and coming back! Its a real treasure to the DC area.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I serve as a volunteer "Quartermaster" helping to keeping watch and care for one of the restored historic lockhouses on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. The Canal Trust helped to restore six of these lockhouses, with more planned, so that visitors to the National Historical Park have a place to stay overnight. The Canal Trust is an amazing organization, putting special touches into historic lockhouses and giving them the furnishings, décor and feel of the past when the C&O Canal boatmen traveled through the canal from Cumberland, Maryland, to Washington, D.C. This innovative project is bringing thousands of visitors and their families to the Park to learn more about its history. I am proud to be a part of the support that the Canal Trust gives to one our national parks.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I grew up spending a few weekend days each year walking the C&O Canal with my folks. Now that I have my own family, I think it's amazing that such a magnificent place exists just 10 minutes from my home. As my wife said the first time she saw Great Falls, "I feel like I'm in Colorado!". Having use of the Canal and the Potomac River are true treasures for Washingtonians, Virginians and Marylanders who hike, bike or even just picnic. The work that the Canal Trust does, from keeping the parklands well groomed and magnificent to the beautifully refurbished lockhouses in the Canal Quarters program is magical. In a world where technology keeps taking the place of nature, the canal is the reverse - a place where technology was restored back to Nature. And I'm happy to do some cleaning or painting to keep it useable for generations.