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New C&O Canal NHP Visitors Center Opened in Hancock; Historic House Enjoys Re-Use

PHOTO CAP: Ribbon cutting officially opening new C&O Canal Visitors Center at Hancock. The ribbon was a replica of a canal boat towrope. Pictures L-R: C&O Canal NHP Superintendent Kevin Brandt, Hancock Historical Society's Don Corbett, Governor Martin O'Malley's representative Josh Russin, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett's representative R.J. Caster, Hancock Mayor Dan Murphy, US Senator Ben Cardin's representative Robin Summerfield, US Senator Barbara Mikulski's representative Julianna Albowicz, Hagerstown-Washington County CVB President and CEO Tom Riford, C&O Canal NHP Western Maryland District Supervisory Ranger Curt Gaul.)




New C&O Canal NHP Visitors Center Opened in Hancock; Historic House Enjoys Re-Use

(Hancock, MD): The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park held a grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open its new Hancock Visitors Center along the towpath by Lock 52. The ceremony was attended by state and federal officials, National Park Service management and staff, elected officials, and business and community leaders.
Speakers included C&O Canal NHP Superintendent Kevin Brandt, Hancock Mayor Dan Murphy, Hagerstown-Washington County President and CEO Tom Riford, US Senator Mikulski's representative Julianna Albowicz, Hancock Historical Society's Don Corbett, and C&O Canal NHP Ranger Curt Gaul.
The new facility is housed in the historic Bowles House, and should attract a large number of towpath and Western Maryland Rail Trail users, as well as travelers along the interstates.
The Bowles House is a historic farmhouse dating to the 1780s. The Bowles House actually pre-dates the C&O Canal's construction. The house was built by the Yates family and was named "Sarah's Fancy." In 1875 the house was then sold to the Bowles family who enlarged the house to its present appearance. In the early 20th century the Little family, who then resided in the house until the 1980's, acquired the house.
This past winter the park conducted rehabilitation work to prepare the house to be used as a visitor center. This work supports the National Park Service mission to preserve historic structures and share the canal's history with the public. New exhibits have been created to share local canal and Hancock history and are installed in the house in such a manner as to maintain the look and feel of a home.
The Bowles House is located at 439 East Main Street, Hancock, and overlooks Lock 52 and the Tonoloway Aqueduct on the C&O Canal at milepost 123. The Bowles House is also easily accessible from the Western Maryland Rail Trail near mile marker #9.
The park has announced that it is seeking volunteers to help staff the Hancock Visitor Center. Anyone interested in volunteering a few hours each week is encouraged to contact park Ranger Lisa Dittman at the Williamsport Visitor Center (301-582-0813).
The C&O Canal National Historical Park is Maryland's largest and most visited national park and in the top twenty most-visited national parks in the country. With visitation of 3.8 million in 2009 it is greater than Yellowstone National Park. About 43-percent of the park is located in Washington County, Maryland. The C&O Canal's 1350 historic structures represent more than 5-percent of the entire inventory of historic structures in the National Park System. For more information about this national treasure, see: http://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/upload/springsummer2010.pdf.
The C&O Canal National Historical Park is a member of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more information, see: www.marylandmemories.com. Washington County is home to 5 national parks, 8 state parks, over 30 museums, and is ranked first in the State of Maryland in Retail Opportunities.
The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization whose mission is to help attract visitors to Hagerstown and Washington County. The CVB helps to create vibrant growth for the local economy by promoting, developing, and expanding the local visitor industry. Washington County is part of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area (www.heartofthecivilwar.org), and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area (http://hallowedground.org). Washington County is also part of the Quad-State Tourism Coalition, a four-state tourism group along I-81. For more information, see: www.quadstate81.com.

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