HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Work to open six lock houses for lodging on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park _ seen as an extraordinary way to give people a taste of life on the old shipping channel _ has resulted in an award from the Maryland Historical Trust.
For the work, the National Park Service and the C&O Canal Trust received an award for Outstanding Stewardship of Historic Properties by a Governmental Agency, according to a news release about the Maryland Historical Trust awards.
The Maryland Historical Trust, which helps preserve state historic sites, gave awards to 14 projects, organizations and individuals across the state. The awards were presented Jan. 31 at the Governor Calvert Ballroom in Annapolis, the release said.
Six lock houses are open for lodging, and the pilot project for the effort started in Washington County, according to Tom Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Lock house 49 off Four Locks Road south of Clear Spring was opened for lodging in 2009 following a renovation.
During the 1800s and early 1900s in Washington County and other parts of the Tri-State area, wooden boats measuring up to 90 feet long and having the capacity to carry up to 125 tons of materials glided up and down a canal along the Potomac River.
A towpath stretched along the canal, allowing mules attached to the boats by ropes to pull the crafts up and down the waterway.
The idea behind the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was to open up commerce to the West, and on July 4, 1828, construction started on the 6-foot-deep canal that runs from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Md.
Locks allowed canal boats to navigate sloping terrain by raising or lowering the level of the water. Lock house 49 was a busy one, with the lock keeper responsible for getting canal boats through four locks, park officials have said.
The other lock houses that were opened for lodging included one in Frederick County, Md., and four in Montgomery County, Md., said Matthew Logan, president of the C&O Canal Trust.
Logan said 3,139 people from 34 states have stayed in the lock houses since they were opened for lodging in 2009.
"It just continues to exceed our expectations," Logan said.
Before the lodging was offered, the lock houses were significant to the park, but they were only "scene setters," according to the release from the Maryland Historical Trust.
Opening them for lodging in the Canal Quarters Program demonstrated "exemplary adaptive reuse" of the lock houses, the release said.
Following is a list of other projects and individuals honored by the Maryland Historical Trust.
The organization's awards are the highest level of recognition for historic preservation and heritage education projects in Maryland, according to a news release.
_ "Annapolis: City on the Severn, A History." It is a book by Jane Wilson McWilliams that presents 325 years of Maryland's capital city in a work both scholarly and accessible.
_ "The War of 1812 in Charles County's Backyard: A Virtual Tour." A DVD about Charles County's involvement in the conflict.
_ Montgomery County historic preservation interactive mapping initiative
_ Cambridge City Hall renovation plans
_ Rehabilitation of the Most Precious Blood Church for use as the Betterton Community Center in Kent County.
_ Frederick Visitor Center, which is the result of a rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of a 110-year-old cannery warehouse in Frederick's National Register Historic District.
_ Rehabilitation of the Old Towson Jail
_ Rehabilitation of the Ridgeley Rosenwald School in Prince George's County
_ Rehabilitation of the Banque de Fleuve building in Harford County
_ Preservation and restoration of Holly Hill in Anne Arundel County
_ Four Rivers Heritage Area in Anne Arundel County
_ Catonsville High School teacher Louis S. Diggs for his research of 40 historic black communities and documentation of black life in Baltimore County.
_ Elizabeth Scott Shatto, who has been a leader in Frederick County tourism efforts for 20 years.
Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., http://www.herald-mail.com
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