History in our midst

By Jen King, Host Committee Member

If you are looking for a way to enjoy the outdoors during your visit to DC you might try the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath.

In 1825 Congress chartered the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company to build a canal parallel to the unnavigable Potomac River to serve as a commercial waterway carrying goods to and from Washington DC and Cumberland Maryland and the headwaters of the Ohio River. President John Quincy Adams broke ground for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in July 1828.

Beset by economic and environmental difficulties, the canal was never an economic success and, throughout its history, many debated whether to create a national park on the site or pave the canal and construct a scenic parkway. The Federal government purchased the canal in 1938, and in 1954 Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas invited two Washington Post reporters on the first thru-hike along the 184.5 mile towpath to promote the natural beauty of the canal. Following Douglas’ lead, a group of concerned citizens founded the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Association as an advocacy organization to convert the canal to a national park. Douglas’ thru-hike is often considered a pivotal moment that lead to the canal becoming a national park in 1971. Today Washingtonians use the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal as a recreational space, a gateway to nature, and a respite from their urban setting.

The host committee invites you to take a break from the conference and enjoy a short stroll, a run, or perhaps a longer bike ride entering the canal from its starting point in Georgetown. If you venture beyond Georgetown you will see working locks along the canal, rapids and dams of the Potomac River, lock keepers’ houses and other historic structures. Bike 15 flat miles to see Great Falls. Remember to bring water. C & O Canal Ramble Georgetown to Great Falls

Aren’t planning to bring a bike to SAA? No problem. Capital Bikeshare has been serving the city since 2008 and has numerous docking stations throughout the city including stations close to the Marriott Wardman Park and in Georgetown. In addition to Capital Bikeshare, this past September the city began a trial of dockless bike options. For this trial the city authorized five dockless bike companies, Mobike, LimeBike, Spin, Jump and Ofo. The trial ends in April and it is not yet known which of these companies will be serving the city in August. All these bikes are easy to spot and easy to use. Please do not forget your bike helmet.


Capital Bikeshare rack