Georgetown's one-mile section of the C&O Canal National Historical Park provides a unique portal into Georgetown's history, dating back to the 1800s. Today it is a popular towpath for runners, walkers and bikers, as well as those who come to escape city life and sit by the water. 

Unfortunately the C&O Canal is now threatened by deterioration. Parts of Georgetown’s Canal walls, locks, and towpath are in imminent danger of failing, and the National Park Service has a shortage of funding to address these needs. When the Georgetown canal boat was deemed unsafe and beyond repair in 2011, education programs for school children ceased and the visitor center was closed indefinitely.  

The Canal is too special an asset, which is why a dedicated group of citizens and businesses created Georgetown Heritage. Under their leadership, and in partnership with NPS and the Georgetown BID, a major, multi-year restoration is now underway to #unlockthepotential of this precious resource. The restoration includes three focal points:

Restore: 'The Georgetown' canal boat operated as a popular attraction for tourists and school groups from 1983 to 2011, but fell into irreversible disrepair. It was towed out one final time on Oct. 5, 2016. A new historic replica canal boat will be purchased through grant funds provided to Georgetown Heritage by the District of Columbia government, with plans to reinstate canal boat tours in 2018. 

Revitalize: Repairs to Locks 3 and 4 are expected to take 18 months, and will include the complete rebuilding of Lock 3. The area around Lock 3 between 30th and Thomas Jefferson Streets will be closed to all pedestrian and bicycle traffic for the entirety of the project. The canal will be drained from Lock 5, at the Washington, D.C./Maryland line, through Georgetown for the length of the project. Temporary draining will occur through the end of the project. This will stablizie the canal and ensure it remains full of water. 

Reimagine: The development of a Comprehensive Master Plan will guide further revitalization of the C&O Canal, addressing infrastructure needs in the park that include the safety and accessibility of the popular towpath. The master plan will also recommend new canal interpretation, education and recreation programs. The public will also be invited to participate in re-imagining the use of several pocket parks and plazas along the one-mile section of canal.

Visit Georgetown Heritage for more information and to sign up for quarterly updates. Project updates will also be available on the park’s website.