The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal began its operational life from Georgetown to Western Maryland in 1831 and continued as an operating canal until 1924. The canal is 184.5 miles in length and contains 74 locks. The canal was built in order to transport agricultural goods, wood, and coal from the interior to shipping along the coast.
Today, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is a national historic park. Vistors to Washington D.C. will find a visitor center located at 1057 Thomas Jefferson St, NW. The visitor's center conducts walking tours around the historic Georgetown warehouse district. Visitors can experience the past by going on a boat ride down a portion of the canal. These boats rides are powered by mules pulling the boats along just as in the days when goods freely flowed down the canal.
Along the entire length of the canal is a maintained walking and bicycle path which is the same path used by the mules who towed the boats. Portions of the canal are also open for fishing provided one holds a license.
For those wishing to enjoy something of the natural world, the area around the canal is home to an abundance of bird species. The National Park Service estimates that between 74 to 90 different bird species can be seen each year along the canal.