C&O Canal Visitor Center at Cumberland

The visitor center features a spacious exhibit area full of interactive and educational displays about the history of the C&O Canal and Cumberland. Pass through a model of the Paw Paw Tunnel and step back into the hey day of the canal. Awaiting you is a life size section of a canal boat. View exhibits on the canal's construction, cargo, mules, locks, and crew.

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Hours

Open from 9 AM to 5 PM, from April through December 28.  From December 29 through March 31, open on Sunday and Monday from 10 AM to 4 PM, and 9 AM to 5 PM on Tuesday through Saturday.  (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Days) Call ahead to confirm hours of operation.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)

Fees

Fees are only collected at the Great Falls Visitor Center.  Access to other areas of the trail is free.

Three Day Pass

$5 - per private, non-commercial vehicle (include motorcycles, passenger cars, pickup trucks, RV's and vans).

$3 - per person 16 years of age or older when entering on foot or bicycle

Park passes are valid for the date of purchase plus two days at Great Falls Park, Virginia and the Great Falls area of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.

Annual Pass

$20 - Valid for one full year from the month of purchase. Permits access to Great Falls Park, Virginia and the Great Falls area of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. The annual pass allows entrance for the pass holder and additional passengers in a single private non-commercial vehicle, or pass holder plus three adults when entering on foot or bicycle.

Commercial Tour

$25 - 1-6 passenger capacity
$40 - 7- 25 passenger capacity
$100 - 26+ passenger capacity vehicle

Activities

Bicycling, Fishing, Birdwatching, Hiking / Backpacking, Boating and kayaking, Horseback riding, Camping, Ice skating, Canal quarters, Nature walks, Climbing, Ranger programs, Cross country skiing, Wildlife viewing.

C&O Canal Ntaional Historical Park and Visitors Museum

Canal Boat Replica "The Cumberland"

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

Great Alleghany Passage

Saturday night concerns (in season)

History

Located at the western end of the C&O Canal in Cumberland, Maryland, Canal Place features the rich heritage of the canal basin and the surrounding area. The following is a brief overview of the C&O Canal and development of Canal Place.

1850: THE STORY BEGINS
The early residents of Cumberland recognized the need to develop the city as a transportation hub and to build on its role as the starting point of the westbound National Road. Appealing to the promoters of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (begun in Georgetown, Maryland in 1828) the City donated land for the Boat Basin, granted the Canal Company indemnity from any flood damage, and gained a new economic stronghold as the Canal's western terminus. When it opened in 1850 the C&O Canal ushered in an era of rapid development that established the City of Cumberland as the “Gateway to the West” for many modes of travel.

1880-1920: THE BOOM YEARS
Just as strategic location at the crossroads of Wills Creek and the North Branch of the Potomac River established Cumberland's importance in the Colonial era, it also created a flourishing community in the late 19th Century. Cumberland was home to a variety of important service and manufacturing industries linked to the C&O Canal, the B&O Railroad, and the National Road. The city's social structure and its architecture reflected its position as Maryland’s second largest commercial center. The Canal served as a major transportation route for coal and other cargo, and the people who worked the Canal played a major role in the cultural development of Cumberland.

1993: THE BIRTH OF CANAL PLACE
In 1993 the State of Maryland created the Canal Place Preservation & Development Authority to oversee the preservation, development, and management of the Canal Place Preservation District, a designated area within the City of Cumberland surrounding the western end of the C&O Canal.

2000 AND BEYOND: THE VISION BECOMES REALITY
Since the completion of the Canal Place Management Plan in 1996, the Authority has undertaken major rehabilitation and restoration projects. Some projects are already completed, including the renovation of the historic Western Maryland Railway Station. That grand building is now home to the administrative offices of the Canal Place Authority, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, the C&O Canal National Historical Park Cumberland Visitor Center, the Allegany County Visitor Center, deli, gift shop and several professional offices.

Renovation involved the complete rehabilitation of and replication of the dual canopies which originally graced the platform area of the Station. A third track was also laid for use as a display track, and the platform area was restored to its early 20th Century grandeur. Additional enhancements included a fountain and sculpture to the plaza in front of the Station and the extension of the brick walkway to connect with a new pedestrian bridge spanning Wills Creek. The bridge connects the Station and other areas of Canal Place with Riverside Park, site of the cabin used as George Washington's headquarters here during the French and Indian War.

In 2000, a replica of the canal boat “The Cumberland” and a million dollar interactive US Park Service C&O Canal exhibit opened, providing entertainment and education for visitors and local residents. In 2003, Shops at Canal Place opened with a full complement of themed retail, arts & crafts and dining tenants.

As the new millennium opens, further exciting developments are planned for the Canal Place Heritage Area.

The "Trestle Walk" project connects the station area with the C&O Canal Tow Path. This project provides a pedestrian walkway along a former railroad trestle which will ultimately cross the re-watered canal basin and terminate in an overlook at the Potomac River. The walkway follows the perimeter of the Crescent Lawn Festival Grounds. With landscaping and other improvements scheduled for final completion next year, the festival grounds will be in use by CanalFest/RailFest in July 2005. New events and activities are being added each year, and Canal Place will soon feature a year-round schedule of activities and attractions for visitors and residents of Western Maryland.

Also on the horizon are the development and reuse of the historic Footer Dye Works building, signage improvements, and construction of the crown jewel of the Canal Place Heritage Area... the rewatered terminus of the C&O Canal, complete with canal boat rides operated by the National Park Service.

However, the potential of this unique and historic area does not end with its physical development. If we could gaze into the future a few years we would also see that a rewatered canal is not the final destination for the Canal Place initiative. The unique assets of the heritage area, its place in history, and the beauty of its natural resources distinguish Canal Place as an ideal setting for a multitude of activities and events for years to come. We invite you to come and experience all the wonderful and unique facets of Maryland's first Certified Heritage Area, Canal Place!

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Last updated: January 04, 2019
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