Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


Great Falls Tavern: Lock 20 of the C & O Canal

The historic Great Falls Tavern was not always the visitor center for the section around Lock 20 of the C & O Canal.  It opened it's door in 1831, serving as a stopover where people traveling along the canal could find food and a room.

In one room of the old Tavern, which now serves as the Great Falls Park Visitor's Center, there is a video of the history of the Canal, and of the section around Great Falls. There is one very old sepia photo of a bunch of people standing along the side of the tavern, most looking like they'd had one too many.  The original proprietor of the Inn, a Mr. W.W. Fenlon, was pretty famous for his hospitality, organizing dances, fishing parties - not too close the Falls, we hope, especially with all the imbibing that went on.

Today, the Park is booze free.  It's literally a federal offense to open a bottle of wine with your picnic.  And the old inn is now a bookstore with lots of material on the history of the canal, and you can pick up lots of free information and maps.

This is a section of the canal where you can still get a ride on a reproduction barge pulled by two mules, and run by volunteers in period costumes.  

This section of the park is opened daily between 9:00 AM and 4:30 PM.

To get there, you can hope your bicycle and ride along the tow path, or you can do what we did and drive north along Canal Road to where it merges with MacArthur Boulevard, then go about another 3.5 miles to the park entrance.  


Comment balloon 6 commentsPatricia Kennedy • May 28 2011 03:41PM


Howdy and afternoon to you Patricia

Patricia, the Great Falls Tavern and Lock 20 of the C&O Canal, sure does look and sound like a mighty enjoyable to go visit. I'm sure always looking for Historic places to visit and spend time at.

Have a good one
Dale in New Hampshire

Posted by Dale Baker, New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information (Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections) over 9 years ago


What a neat place to visit, with an interesting history. You can just imagine what life must have been like years ago. Thanks for the tour and history lesson.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Dale, it was a fun place to visit.  Of course, I really wanted to check out the upper floors!

And Jeff, they have a great display in one of the rooms, and some of the old photos make the place look like lots of people had lots of fun there.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Pat - that looks like so much fun! Combining history with a day out enjoying the countryside!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 9 years ago

Hi Pat~

Loved reading this post and imagining a visit...thanks!


Hi Pat, Great Falls definitely has great history and different. This is a place I would visit if I were nearby!

Posted by Jackie Connelly-Fornuff, "Moving at The Speed of YOU!" (Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Babylon NY) over 9 years ago