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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!