For 1st time in a decade, C&O Canal boat tours return to Georgetown

The return of C&O Canal boat tours is a cornerstone of Georgetown Heritage’s programs that will connect and engage students, families and visitors, and bring new energy to the Georgetown neighborhood.

Georgetown Heritage was funded by a grant from the District of Columbia and constructed at Roudebush Yacht & Engine Works in Dundalk, Maryland. Measuring 80 feet long and 12 feet wide, the boat was modeled on designs for historic packet boats that were used on the C&O Canal during its early years of service in Georgetown.

After three years of construction, the new C&O Canal tour boat arrived in Georgetown in July 2021. The Georgetown Heritage will be christened Thursday, April 28, 2022, and public rides will be offered from April 29 through October 2022.


The nonprofit Georgetown Heritage, in partnership with the C&O Canal National Historical Park in Georgetown, is welcoming a new canal boat, “The Georgetown Heritage,” with a ribbon-cutting, christening and celebration next Thursday.

D.C., the National Park Service and the Georgetown Business Improvement District are also partners in Georgetown Heritage’s multiyear restoration and revitalization efforts.

Opened in 1831, the C&O Canal operated for nearly 100 years as a link to what was then the Western United States, delivering resources between the Chesapeake Bay and the Ohio River.

Christiana Hanson, chief of Interpretation, Education and Volunteers for C&O Canal National Historical Park, said the canal boat tour in Georgetown is a way to connect with that history.

“This is a way that we can connect visitors to the really unique urban history of the canal in Georgetown,” through historical interpretations that bring to life “the voices of the people who lived and worked around and on the canal,” Hanson said.

Georgetown canal boat tours began in 1971, when the C&O Canal became a National Historical Park, the first mile of which is in Georgetown. The last canal boat — “The Georgetown” — became damaged beyond repair in 2011.

Georgetown Heritage Director of Education and Partnerships S. Rex Carnegie said the return of the canal boat will serve as the cornerstone of the nonprofit’s efforts to restore, revitalize and interpret the Georgetown section of the C&O Canal, which Georgetown Heritage expects will have a profound effect on the neighborhood.

“We want this program to have an educational impact for folks in Georgetown, but we are also hoping it attracts people to Georgetown to come and see all the history, as well as the modern amenities Georgetown has to offer,” Carnegie said

Construction of the new canal boat was funded by a grant from D.C. Built at Roudebush Yacht & Engine Works in Dundalk, Maryland, the Georgetown Heritage was modeled on designs for the historic pocket boats that navigated the canal during its heyday in Georgetown.

The original canal boat was pulled by mules, but the Georgetown Heritage has several modern upgrades, including whisper-quiet electric engines. It also has restrooms and a sound system to help visitors hear the educational interpreters who will be sharing the history of the canal.

“I am confident this unique experience will bring new energy to our neighborhood,” said Jennifer Romm, president and chair of the Georgetown Heritage Board of Directors. “This has been years in the works, and thanks to our partners, our gorgeous new canal boat is ready to launch.”

The “All Aboard Our Heritage” ribbon-cutting celebration will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 28 at Lock 3 of the C&O Canal. Guests will enjoy live music, tours of the canal boat, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, along with remarks from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Council member Brooke Pinto and other special guests.

Tickets can be purchased at the Georgetown Heritage website. Proceeds will benefit the expansion of the Georgetown Heritage C&O Canal boat program.

Beginning April 29 and through October, one-hour guided historical tours will be offered Wednesday — Sunday. Canal boat tickets can be purchased at the Georgetown Heritage website or at the box office in the Mule Yard, located next to the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s Georgetown Visitor Center.

The docked canal boat will also be available for private evening rentals.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the correct date for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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