The National Park Service has broken ground on a new C&O Canal Headquarters and Visitors Center in Williamsport, Maryland.
The groundbreaking also marked the opening of the restored Conococheague Aqueduct, the first operational aqueduct along the C&O Canal since 1924.
Williamsport will be the only place in North America where visitors can experience every single aspect of a working canal in one place, officials say.
U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Gov. Larry Hogan attended the event Thursday.
Van Hollen called the move “a huge win for Williamsport and for Maryland as a whole.” He said the new headquarters and renovated aqueduct will boost the region’s recreation and tourism industries.
Hogan called the developments “transformative,” saying it’s the type of project that “comes along once in a generation.”
It has taken years of collaboration, cooperation and hard work by so many people at the federal, state and local levels of government,” said Hogan.
Cardin thanked the volunteers, saying, “This could not be done without the volunteers that have worked on this C&O Canal.”
Construction on the new visitors center and park headquarters will begin in 2020, with completion projected for 2021. The total cost of the project is $15 million.
The National Park Service is working to restore the entire section of the C&O Canal in Williamsport to its 1920s appearance.
The C&O Canal National Historical Park stretches 184 miles from Georgetown in D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland.