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Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Historic Resource Study (by Harlan Unrau)

Harlan Unrau Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


On January 8, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon signed into law the bill creating the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park. In the mid-1970s, National Park Service historian Harlan D. Unrau produced a major, handwritten, multi-volume study of the history, engineering, operation, maintenance, and other aspects of the Chesapeake & Ohio canal. A rough, unedited typed version was produced in the early 1980s for general use by park staff.

In 2006, C&O Canal NHP volunteers began the task of transcribing the Unrau work into MS Word. The present document lacks the benefit of information that has become available since the 1970s when Unrau created this work. Various imperfections will be apparent to the reader and some sources are not fully documented, but the work represents an early compilation of the canal's history and engineering that has never been surpassed and will be of incalculable value to researchers and those who simply desire to know more about this unique historic treasure.

---The first PDF is the entire document, 851 pages, so it may be very slow to download on a poor internet connection. The additional PDF files on subsequent pages of this website are all of the chapters of the Unrau work.


Harlan Unrau

Public domain

1. Designers of the C&O canal
2. Construction economics
3. Labor force
4. Quarries, mills and kilns
5. Construction chronology
6. Floods
7. Boats and navigation
8. Commerce
9. Maintenance
10. Economic impact
11. Canal in the civil war
12. Locktenders and boatmen


Collection Location:
C&O National Historic Park

National Park Service, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Hagerstown, Maryland

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (Md.); Washington County (Md.), History

Maryland, 1824-1938

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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