Accepted abstracts. Check back later for further program updates.


C&O Canal Company’s 1890 Bankruptcy Case that Established a 50-Year Trusteeship
Karen Gray
After the 1889 flood, the C&O Canal Company was bankrupt and the B&O Railroad—deeply invested in bonds that mortgaged the canal—is widely believed to have gained control and/or ownership of it. This presentation documents the legal and operational realities and status of the company and its canal 1889–1938, revealing that this understanding is erroneous.

The State of Pennsylvania Canal and Railroad Initiative
Robert J. Kapsch
The state of Pennsylvania, reacted to the Erie Canal and the C&O Canal with a massive canal and railroad system intended to capture the agricultural wealth of the Northwestern Territory and beyond for Pennsylvania and its lead city, Philadelphia. The key element in this initiative was the Main Line, a combined west-east railroad and canal system to link Pittsburgh and the west with Philadelphia and the east.

The Capital’s Corridor: From Purveyor of Goods to Conservation Corridor
Joel I. Cohen
This presentation will discuss “the relevance of historic canals to today” through a chronological series of canal. The presentation will illustrate how the historical aspects of the C&O Canal quite literally laid the groundwork for corridor connectivity, and in so doing, provided new opportunities for education.

“Champion” Canals: Coming by it naturally!
Ralph Buglass
This presentation will focus on “champion trees”—exceptionally large trees—along  the C&O Canal as a unique resource for promoting recreation and advancing nature education  by increasing awareness of trees’ importance in the environment. The presentation will be richly illustrated with photos of all the numerous tree specimens so designated.

Albert Gallatin, Father of American Infrastructure
Rod Mackler
Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin used a report to Congress in 1808 to outline his plan for roads and canals. This report served as a blueprint for key “internal improvements” for the next two centuries, from US Route One/I-95 and the Intracoastal Waterway to the National Road and the C&O Canal.

Hall’s Rifle Works and the Shenandoah Canal: A Fraught Relationship in the Age of Waterpower
David T. Gilbert
This presentation will explore the symbiotic but fraught relationship between the Shenandoah Canal and Hall’s Rifle Works along the banks of the Shenandoah River.

The World is Your Museum: Programming Outside the Bounds of Your Historic Site
Derrick Pratt & David Brooks
The Erie Canal Museum has operated outdoor tours focused on the region’s canal heritage for years. The pandemic caused the Museum to rethink how it engaged with audiences, in both space AND content, resulting in a fruitful year of programming that can be replicated in the future.

C&O Canal electric launch boat

PIANC and its Role Addressing Climate Change Challenges to Inland Waterways
Burton Suedel, Brian Joyner, Bill Miles
PIANC (The World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure) recognizes the importance of the climate change challenge and is actively pursuing the sustainable future of the inland waterborne transport. Nature-based Solutions are receiving growing attention for their potential to reduce people’s vulnerability to a range of climate change impacts and to provide significant co-benefits for both people and the environment.

Keeping the Doors Open for History: Interpretation & Adaptation during COVID-19
Cabryn Gurdo
Discussion will focus on the conference theme as it applies to the Canal Society’s Erie Canal Heritage Park at Port Byron on the NYS Thruway. The Park’s 2020 season was an important educational and recreational historic site during the pandemic for local, national and international audiences.

Trailway through Time: The D&L and National Canal Museum Merge History and Recreation
Daphne Mayer & Martha Capwell Fox
The National Canal Museum has preserved and presented the history of the anthracite canals since 1970. The history of the efficient canal transport of anthracite in eastern Pennsylvania from mine to market is nationally significant. Since its merger with the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor in 2017, the Museum’s educational and interpretive canal and industrial heritage programs now reach the residents of the Corridor’s five counties, from the anthracite regions to the tidewater Delaware River.

“To Re-Create; to Recreate” – A Comparative Tale of Two Michigan Inland Lake Communities
Stacy Leroy Daniels
The two largest inundations from inland lakes due to dam breachings in U.S. history had contrasting impacts: partial drainage of Crystal Lake, a very large natural lake in a very small watershed in NW Lower MI (1873) vs. extensive drainage of four small impoundment lakes in the very large Tittabawassee River (Four Lakes) watershed in Central MI (2020).

Geospatial Technologies and Historic Canals Today: Enhancing Education, Recreation, and Tourism for End Users with GIS
John Ward
The conservation and preservation of long distance linear corridors such as canals, waterways, and rail trails offer opportunities to provide a combination of education, recreation, and tourism related to the corridors themselves but also to important cultural and natural features along their routes.

The Unique Tourism-Focused Initiatives of the C&O Canal Trust
Heidi Schlag & Heather Barnes
C&O Canal Trust staff will detail how the Trust, a friends group of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, provides unique tourist experiences via an historic lockhouse interpretive program, a C&O Canal Explorer mobile app, and tourism partnerships.

The C&O Canal as the Focus for History and Tourism in a small Western Maryland Town
Tracy Salvagno & Ralph Salvagno
From the burial spot for canal workers felled by Cholera to a modern-day revival of Canalside buildings , the C&O Canal has had a significant impact on the social and economic life of the Town of Hancock. The home of canal boat builders and merchants is currently benefitting from the recreational tourism associated with the 186-mile Towpath.

August 30 – September 2, 2021
Hagerstown, Maryland USA