On a rainy afternoon during a family camping trip to one of our favorite western Maryland campgrounds, and on the advice of the family of one of K’s best friends, we set out on our first “52 in 52”. The Cumberland Visitor Center provided interactive exhibits about the history of the C&O Canal and Cumberland, Maryland. Interestingly enough we had been to the beginning of the C&O canal in Georgetown in northwest Washington D.C. earlier in the year while returning from a trip to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Air and Space Museum near Washington Dulles International Airport. Visiting the Cumberland Visitor Center and the ending point of the C&O canal seemed appropriate since we were so close.
After passing through a replica canal tunnel called the “Paw Paw Tunnel”, we entered the museum area that provided a history of the C&O canal and its relationship to Cumberland. The exhibit included a life-sized section of a canal boat, information about the canal’s construction and purpose, stories about life on the canal and operation of the locks.
Some of the things we learned during this experience:
- A towpath is a trail on the bank of the canal where the mules would be used to tow the canal boat.
- The tiller is used to steer the boat left or right.
- A “lock” is used to raise or lower boats along the canal. Water can be flooded into or out of the lock in order to raiser or lower the boat.
- The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal never made it to Ohio because the railroad beat them to it.
The exhibits provided a nice respite from the rain and we couldn’t resist purchasing the book “Captain Kate” by Carolyn Reeder to read during our nightly family story-time.
Time Spent: About 1 hour