Lock House Rehabilitation

Grantee Organization: C&O Canal Trust

Fund Type: Project-based Fund

3-year Granting Plan: 

Table 3: Bedrock Foundation’s 3-year Granting Plan to C&O Canal Trust

Targeted Projects

Grantee Nonprofit Organization

Educational Fields

Granting Amount

 (Unit: Thousand US Dollars)




In Total

Lock House Rehabilitation 

Program-C & O Canal Trust

Community history and culture and environmental protection education





Grantee Organization Introduction

Founded in 2007, the C&O Canal Trust is the official non-profit partner of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park. The mission is to partner with the National Park Service to protect, restore, and promote the C&O Canal. The Trust engages communities and individuals to realize the Park’s historical, natural, and recreational potential.

The C&O Canal National Historical Park is the 8th most visited unit within the National Park System, welcoming nearly 5 million visitors a year. (This is more visitors than signature parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, or the Grand Canyon host a year!) The C&O Canal Trust works in partnership with the C&O Canal National Historical Park to raise funds and resources to support maintenance and visitor programs in the Park.

Official website: https://www.canaltrust.org/about-us/about-the-trust/

Grantee Project Introduction

The Bedrock Foundation plans to provide three gifts in the total amount of 300,000 US dollars to the C&O Canal Trust between 2021-2023 for the Lock House Rehabilitation Project.

  1. (1)General Background:

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal was built in the 1830s and was a vital shipping lifeline for the region during the mid-to-late- 1800s before railroads made it obsolete. Civil War-era houses where lock keepers and their families once lived line the 184-mile waterway, stretching from Washington to the Appalachians. Originally there were 57 lock houses; today, there are only 27, most of which have been sitting empty for years. 

Under the efforts of the C & O Canal National Park and C & O Canal Trust, seven lock houses have been rehabilitated and opened to the public for overnight stays. The location of these seven sites is shown on the map below (Figure 11).


Figure 11 Map of 7 rehabilitated lock houses along the canal

C&O Canal National Historical Park is mainly responsible for the selection and rehabilitation of the lock house. After the rehabilitation, these lock houses are operated by the C & O Canal Trust team.

This project was promoted by the Maryland Government Tourism Bureau and won many honorary awards, such as the 2020 Maryland Historical Trust’s Project Excellence in Preservation Partnerships. At the same time, the project has also received media attention and reports, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Lonely Planet, who have made special reports.

However, only No. 6, No.10, and No.21 are fully equipped with water and electricity among the seven open lock houses. The accommodation rate is relatively high. No. 49 has electricity but no water, and No.22, No.25, and No.28 have no water and electricity. Therefore, the occupancy rate is meager. According to the operation data provided by C & O Canal Trust, the total occupancy rate since inception (2012-2021)  is 36.64%. The profit since inception is only around 12,000 US dollars. The leading visitor group comes from the local community, namely the DMV area.

Facing significant challenges in operation, the park and the Trust team will not develop any lock houses which can not be equipped with water and electricity.

  1. (2)New Site Plan:

C & O Canal Trust Board of Directors created a task force to guide the rehabilitating of a new lock house in July 2021. The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) suggested two potential buildings to design and build a trendy Canal Quarters site.

  1. Barr House on the Blackford Property near Lock 38 in Sharpsburg

o   Exterior Historical Assessment Report was completed last year and is attached to this project update.

o   Near Shepherdstown, WV, which is a trendy college town and hosts many tourists.

o   This location accomplishes a program objective to locate new lock houses in the western portion of the park.

§  Barr House is about halfway between our existing Canal Quarters Lockhouse 28 at mile marker 48.9 in Point of Rocks and Lockhouse 49 at mile marker 108.7 in Clear Spring. It is 30 miles in either direction.

  1. Lockhouse 70 at Lock 70 in Oldtown

o   Appears to be in better condition than the Barr House.

o   Used recently as a visitor center and hosted tours periodically.

o   This lock house takes the Canal Quarters well into the Western end of the park.

§  At mile marker 166.7, it is about 18 miles from the western end of the park in Cumberland.

§  It is 58 miles west of Lockhouse 49 in Clear Spring, currently the program’s most western Canal Quarters lock house.

o   No documentation is available at this time.

At this time, NPS does not have a full Historic Structure Report (HSR) for either the Barr House or Lockhouse 70. It is a critical first step in planning the rehabilitation for either house. Discussions continue between the Trust and the C&O Canal NHP about the need to include the cost of the HSR in the project budget.

However, NPS provides an Exterior Historic Structure Assessment Report Draft for Barr House (see attachment).

pastedGraphic_1.pngFigure 12 Barr House

Granting Description

C & O Canal National Park is a national park with natural scenery and historical traditions, aligning with the education of historical practices that the Bedrock Foundation wants to promote. Besides, Bedrock Foundation is willing to support place-based philanthropy and thus would like to support nonprofit organizations like C & O Canal Trust in the DMV area to conduct community-based educational programs.

Through the recommendation of the Daofeng and Angela Foundation, Bedrock Foundation held its first meeting with C & O Canal Trust in May 2021 to formally discuss how to support more Lock House restoration and future operations. At the meeting, the three parties reached a willingness to cooperate: Bedrock Foundation will work with Daofeng and Angela Foundation to provide a total of one million US dollars in targeted funding for the Lock House Rehabilitation project.

On July 22, 2021, C & O Canal organized a site visit for the Bedrock Foundation and Daofeng and Angela Foundation to Barr house and Lockhouse 70 (Figure 13 & 14). Bedrock Foundation and Daofeng and Angela Foundation brought volunteers with professional construction knowledge backgrounds to support the site evaluation. All parties discussed the construction situation, the possibility of rehabilitation, and the market potential. All parties agreed that while examining the existing two options, C & O Trust will work with the park to identify new possibilities. Currently, C & O Canal has completed the donor review process following the Lockhouse Rehabilitation Workflow (see attachment).


Figure 13 Barr House Site Visit                     Figure 14 Volunteers Visited Lockhouse 70