The beloved C&O Canal boat, the Georgetown, is leaving us. The 19th-century style, mule-pulled, 90-foot cargo boat sits on blocks on the canal between 33rd and Thomas Jefferson Streets. Captivating visitors for a ride along the C&O Canal for decades, the boat has deteriorated and is deemed unsafe for passengers.
For years, the National Park Service had set up tours for visitors. Park rangers and volunteers would wear period clothing and describe what life was like for the families that lived and worked on the canal. The Georgetown boat will be removed and destroyed, and some of its neighbors are not happy with the decision. Despite a signed petition delivered to the NPS, there have been no public protests — and a date for any farewell parties have not been reported yet.
John Noel, chief of division of partnerships, the C&O Canal National Historical Park, had been fighting to keep the boat around. “The National Park Service and I have looked at all our options, whether it was better to repair the boat or to somehow save it,” Noel said. “Due to the budget crisis, unfortunately we cannot repair it.”
Noel also said that because of how bad the boat is deteriorating, there would be no way to transport it anywhere without it being destroyed. “We would have liked to have transported to a museum in Williamsport, Md., for installation as an exhibit, but it wouldn’t make the trip,” he said. “We don’t exactly have a date set when it’ll be taken out, but we are expecting within the next month or so.”
Fortunately, NPS plans to launch a boat program where a smaller recreational battery-powered boat will make the Georgetown tours accessible to visitors. Still, Noel said, it is “not the same effect as with the current Georgetown cargo boat, but still very effective.”
According to Noel and the NPS website, fees will stay the same unless further notice. The current summer boat tour hours are Wednesday through Sunday at 11:00 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Note: on 4th of July only 1-1/2 hour rides at 11am and 2pm will be offered. Prices range from $8 for adults (ages 15-61), $6 for seniors (ages 62 and over), and $5.00 for children (ages 4-14). Children, aged three and under, ride free.
For further information, please call 301-767-3714, or visit the NPS website