08 Jul A Historic Ride
The C&O Canal has over 100 years of pure history. The government acquired the canal in 1938 and it soon became a National Park in 1971. It was America’s early transportation; the C&O Canal began as a dream of passage to Western wealth. Operating for nearly 100 years the canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market. The construction of the canal began July 4, 1828. It was completed on October 10, 1850. The total cost of the canal was about $14 million since it took them over 22 years to build. Approximatively, 4,000 workmen comprised the labor force to build the canal. Attracted by the promise of a better life in America, immigrants from Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, and England worked long hours to dig the 184.5-mile canal. Most were masons, carpenters, and blacksmiths who built the C&O Canal’s 11 stone aqueducts. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the fact that immigrants have been coming to this country since many years ago with the only goal of working to acquire a better life for them and their families. There’s a lot of disapproval in regards to immigration especially, in today’s time when people think that the migration of people barely began with Latin American people when in reality it has been happening all a long and it use to not be a crime, but rather an opportunity. This country was built by immigrants and continues to grow because of them too. It’s hard to deny such facts when history says otherwise. You may ask why was there the need for a canal when we have the Potomac River. Well, the Potomac River is a very high-volume flowing river, there is a very strong undercurrent with lots of rocks, lots of unseen obstacles and the water is never clear, so you can never see what you’re getting into. This is very dangerous and specially if you are transporting merchandise and your family is with you as it was accustomed that families where the ones that transported the goods through the canal. The boat use in the canal was not a steam engine boat. This boat was run by mules and still is. A replica of this boat is used at Great Fall Tavern where I’m located. As one of the main attractions the park offers mule drawn boat rides. The Charles F. Mercer boat capacity is 65 people. The boat programs last approximately one hour. On the boat you get to experience rising 8 feet in a lock and hear park rangers in period clothing describe what life was like for the families that lived and worked on the canal. At the same time, you get to enjoy life at a slower pace and be transported back to the 1870s. I have to say that riding the boat was a great experience and I definitely learned a lot of history. However, I also got the chance to work the boat and that was even better. It was like if I was transported back to the 1800s. I definitely won’t ever forget this experience. So, if you ever visit Great Falls Tavern, you definitely have to take the boat ride. You’ll definitely travel in time.