Also see our Parks & Recreation Section on the Main Menu.
The Frederick County Parks and Recreation Bureau (301-696-2936 Voice/TDD) provides for acquisition and development of a County-wide park system, including those of local, regional, and stream-valley nature; develops and manages various quality and convenient community recreation programs; and maintains County grounds.
There are four State parks in the County: Cunningham Falls State Park, Gambrill State Park, Gathland State Park and Washington Monument State Park. Federal recreation areas include Monocacy National Battlefield, Sugarloaf Mountain, C&O Canal Towpath and Catoctin Mountain National Park.
Points of Interest:Programs include:
Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo has been bringing people and animals together since 1966. We deliver fun, intimate, educational encounters with exotic animals. Covering 26 acres filled with natural wildlife, CWPZoo exhibits bears, boas, macaws, monkeys, big cats, small mammals, reptiles and a petting zoo in an up-close manner - perfect for kids and kids at heart.
Encounters are scheduled seasonally, where visitors can play with a baby animal, get
the "bear" facts on grizzlies, rub and scrub our 575-pound tortoise, talk
to a tiger, and hug a boa constrictor.
"Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo is a private, family-owned and operated facility. Since 1966, these animals have been our extended family. We hope that through our personal style of education and introduction, these wonderful creatures will become your extended family, too."
The Hahn Family and Staff
Cunningham Falls State Park, located in the Catoctin Mountains, is known for its history, as well as its scenic beauty. Before the first Europeans arrived, many small Indian tribes farmed, hunted, and fished in the area. By the time settlers began to arrive in the Monocacy River valley, Indians were seldom seen.
Early settlers used timber from the surrounding forests to make charcoal to fuel the Catoctin Iron Furnace, the remains of which are located inside the present day park. Traces of old logging roads are still evident today. Remnants of old farms, such as stone fences and cellar pits, can also bee seen. With the passing of years, it became more difficult for the mountain people to eke out a living. Such practices as clear-cutting of the land for charcoal making, as well as logging, unscientific farming practices, and stripping trees of the bark for tanning all contributed to the overuse of the land.
In 1936, more than 10,000 acres were acquired by the Federal Government and developed to demonstrate the possibilities of creating parks from worn-out lands. In 1954, the area was divided into two parts, separated by MD Route 77. The Federal Government retained the northern 5,770 acres which is now the present day Catoctin Mountain Park, a unit of the National Park System. The 4,230 acres south of MD Route 77 was named Cunningham Falls State Park. Today there are two main developed areas in the state park, the William Houck and the Manor Area.
|The C & O Canal is a 184 mile long National
Historical Park. It begins in Washington, D.C. and follows the Potomac River to
Cumberland, Maryland. Construction of the Canal began in 1828 and eventually stopped in
1850 when it reached Cumberland. The original idea was for it to go much further west, but
the competition from railroads had not been foreseen when the canal was originally
planned. It finally began making some profits in the 1870's but at the end of the next
decade, a massive flood caused the Canal Company to go into receivership to its rival, the
B & O Railroad. The railroad operated the Canal for several decades until
another devastating flood in 1924 at which time the Canal was closed for good.
In 1938, the 184 mile long stretch of property was acquired by the Federal Government for $2 million and put in the domain of the National Park Service. The Service decided it would make a perfect Parkway - an attractive approach to the city of Washington. However, such was not to be. Justice William Douglas of the Supreme Court reviled the thought of the destruction of the beautiful river corridor. He challenged the editor of the Washington Post, who had come out in favor of the proposed construction, to walk the entire towpath and then decide whether he still thought the road project idea was a good one. The editor agreed to Douglas's proposition, and after completing the hike came out with an editorial in favor of saving the natural beauty of the river and dispensing with the highway. Public opinion turned towards keeping the land natural, and in 1971 it was designated the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.
Locks and Aqueducts
During the course of its 184 miles, the canal had to climb a little over 600 feet. This was accomplished through a series of 74 liftlocks, each of which would raise or lower a canalboat about 8 feet to the next level of the canal, a procedure which generally took about ten minutes. Besides liftlocks, a number of river feeder and guard locks also had to be constructed. These locks allowed water from the river to flow in and out of the canal as needed. The guardlocks also served to protect the canal during flood periods.
Other structures that had to be built as a part of the canal were culverts and aqueducts. To enable the canal to cross relatively small streams, over 150 culverts were built. The crossing of major streams required the construction of 11 aqueducts.
One of these, the Monocacy Aqueduct, at mile 42, is thought by many to be the most beautiful feature of the canal. Constructed of pink and white quartz sandstone quarried from the base of nearby Sugarloaf Mountain, the aqueduct withstood Confederate attempts to blow it up during the Civil War. More recently, it suffered extensive damage during 1972's Hurricane Agnes. While it underwent extensive repair work to save it following that flood, it is still in great need of further major repairs if it is to be saved for posterity. A joint campaign to save the Monocacy is in the works.
Cargo and Mules...
The boats that plied the Canal typically carried cargoes of coal, flour or grain, and made the trip from Cumberland to Georgetown in four or five days. They used teams of two or three mules, working in six hour shifts. The canalboats generally had crews of five, often all members of the same family. If there were young children living aboard the boats, they would be tethered to the boat to prevent accidents.
The Canal Today
Parts of the Canal have been rewatered and other towns along its path are hoping to do the same in the future, but in the meantime, much of the bed of the Canal is filled with trees and shrubs. Since the Canal has been out of operation since the '20's, some of them have had time to reach quite a considerable size, especially the Sycamores. You can also see smaller trees such as Pawpaws (the fruits of which may someday soon appear in local supermarkets!) and bushes such as Spicebushes, which are very noticeable in the early spring with their small clusters of yellow flowers that appear before the leaves. These and many other trees and shrubs cause countless visitors to the park to ask: "How did the boats get through the canal with all those trees there?"
The Canal Towpath is now a very popular spot for walking, biking and horseback riding. And in Georgetown and at Great Falls, you can go for canalboat rides.
Links: Local and Foreign :-)
Local C and O Sub-pagesNOTE: This first group of links is for pages I have created. A couple of these pages may also appear in other categories below.
Attention Teachers: Teaching Info
Places along the C and O
Historical Accounts Involving the C and O
January '96 Flood-related Information
And Along Came Hurricane Fran...
For more information, contact:
You may also be interested in joining the C and O Canal Association. They publish a quarterly newsletter entitled Along the Towpath. This organization is devoted to the preservation of the Canal and Park. Its members recently donated a new mule named Lil to the Park. You can write to them at:
P.O. Box 366
| Sign Guestbook | View Guestbook |
Note: This is a different guestbook than the one on the Appalachian Trail page. In addition, many entries are missing when the guestbook was on the previous guestbook server.
This C&O information was compiled by Kathy Bilton, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and was begun in March, 1995. For her most recent updates: see: http://www.fred.net/kathy/canal.html
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