2012-10-10 / Local & State

C&O Canal National Historical Park To Host Big Slackwater Ribbon-Cutting

At 10 a.m., Saturday, October 13, 2012, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completed restoration of the C& O Canal towpath area known as Big Slackwater.

Guest speakers include U. S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, U.S. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, a representative from the office of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and National Park Service National Capital Regional Director Steve Whitesell, among others. There will be music from 9 a.m. until noon and the event is free and open to the public

Parking for the event is at the Bowman Property, 15910 Cheneys Neck Road, Sharpsburg, Md. Free shuttles will operate from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., between the parking area and event site. Speakers begin at 10 a.m., followed by Park Superintendent Kevin D. Brandt leading a tour of the newly restored towpath. The walking tour extends from the Big Slackwater boat ramp to McMahons Mill (approx. 2.5 miles).

Restoration of the Big Slackwater area is a culmination of 15 years of advocacy by park supporters. It reconnects the entire 184.5-mile trail creating a more enjoyable, memorable and safe experience for park visitors traveling the towpath. This 2.7-mile trail section once allowed mules to pull canal boats along the river in the slackwater above Dam Number 4. In 1996, the towpath incurred severe flood damage and this section was washed out, forcing pedestrians and cyclists to use a dangerous 5- mile detour on narrow county roadways. Since 1996 the Big Slackwater area had remained completely closed to the visiting public and was the only segment of the 184.5-mile canal towpath closed to park visitors.

The Big Slackwater reconstruction contract was more than $19 million and was primarily funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement Program, State of Maryland Bond Bill, National Park Service Recreation Fee funding and donations from the C&O Canal Association.

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