This month we want to share pictures our director Janine took while in Washington, DC in June. After a week of meetings with government officials about public land issues, Janine visited the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in historic Georgetown. Western Lands has been following a proposed land trade along the canal between the National Park Service and Georgetown University. Local groups are fighting the deal and Western Lands will be working with them to review the environmental analysis once it is released. Take a look at the brief history and photos of the C & O below.
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Thank you for your interest. Joanne Hedou, Program Coordinator, Western Lands
The Chesapeake & Ohio (C & O) was used for transport of goods to Washington DC from the early 1800's to 1924. Mules walking along the towpaths (where pedestrians walk in this photo) would pull barges that carried agricultural products, building materials, coal, and other goods. The canal—which extends along the north bank of the Potomac River from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD—was used until it was damaged by floods in 1924; in 1938 it was sold to the U.S. government. Partially restored, the canal and its towpath were proclaimed a National Monument in 1961 and a National Historical Park in 1971. The late Justice William O. Douglas was a leading and tireless advocate for C&O protection.
As mentioned in our latest newsletter, Georgetown University wants to build a new boathouse near the scenic entrance to the C & O National Historical Park on land that GU would acquire through a land trade with the Park Service. Building the new boathouse at GU’s chosen site would have a significant impact on the views and vegetation along the canal, and has the potential to increase damage from floods during and after construction. Advocates for canal protection are working to raise public awareness of the plan. Their website shows how the new boathouse would look on the proposed site.
The photos below show a pilot pulling a barge under a bridge, people walking on the towpath above where the GU boathouse would be built, and the towpath and locks in Georgetown.
"The C&O is a real refuge in that very intense city. Being there reminded me that public land in all forms and sizes does the essential work of bringing us down to earth." Janine Blaeloch, Director, Western Lands