In Early America, ships and boats transferred food, people, and other items into the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. To expedite progress and create a transportation system that benefited all, a canal system was built that connected the Potomac River to inland waterways and ultimately Ohio. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was a pivotal moment in U.S. history because it created nearly 200 miles of waterway for the efficient passage of goods and people.
Student Travel Groups Headed to Washington D.C.: Don’t Miss the Canal
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was created in the 19th Century. During this period in our nation’s history, many people along the Potomac River benefited with jobs generated from the flurry of business on the Canal. Today, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal are maintained by the National Park Service, which preserves and protects 184 miles of the former Canal route and its history.
The Great Falls of the Potomac in Northern Virginia: an Engineering Feat
The National Park Service also oversees the Great Falls of the Potomac in Northern Virginia. The Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center is just 15 miles outside of Washington D.C. These Falls were once seen as a severe challenge to building the canal, but this was overcome when a series of locks were installed here. Student travel groups find the rugged rock formations, river scenery, and historic inn stimulating, so the short drive outside Washington D.C. is entirely worthwhile.
Student travel groups on their way to Washington D.C. will want to schedule a visit to one or both sites in order to gain a full understanding of the canal system, and the way in which it functioned and enriched the region where it was located.
Add a Trip to the Georgetown Visitor Center in Downtown Washington D.C.
For student travel groups visiting the Washington D.C. metropolitan area for several days, it is easy to add a visit to the Georgetown Visitor Center of the Canal to the itinerary. Students can take a ride on a canal boat at this location or at the Great Falls Visitor Center. There is a nominal additional fee for canal boat tours, but it’s well worth it for student groups to experience the excitement of really taking a ride on a replica of an historic canal boat.
The visitor centers are also great places to see films and participate in interpretive programs that explain to student travel groups the historical high points of the canal system, the people who built it, made a livelihood on the canals, or used it for travel.
Teachers Take Note: And Educational Kit for Prepping Student Travelers
The educational programs offered by the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park are designed to meet U.S. History Standards for students in grades 5-12. There is an excellent place on the park’s website http://www.nps.gov/choh/forteachers/aboutthislesson.htm teachers may visit in order to prepare student travel groups for the trip to Washington D.C. to see the historic canals.
How to Study the Historic Canals in and Near Washington D.C.
There are many different angles from which the canals can be studied. They are not only a great engineering feat, but impacted the economy of the region and this country in a profound way. There is so much to learn about these historic canals. Students will gain a better understanding of the way in which the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was built and also how it helped advance transportation to meet the pressing needs of an industrial world that was quickly switching to automation for many aspects of life.
Our founding father, George Washington, played a crucial role in the construction of the Potomac Canal, which is one way of stressing its importance. Student travel organizers and educators will want to consider adding a canal visit to their itinerary for Washington D.C. trips. A member of the professional Educational Travel Consultants team will be happy to assist. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.