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National Park Service celebrates restoration of Locks 3 and 4 on Georgetown's C&O Canal

It took NPS nearly two years to restore these locks from the 1800s. The occasion marks one step closer towards bringing back canal boats.
Credit: Eliana Block
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal underwent historic restorations beginning in 2016.

WASHINGTON — The National Park Service and the Georgetown Heritage, a non-profit, hosted a community celebration to mark the complete restoration of Locks 3 and 4 along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in Georgetown.

Lock 3, located near 30th St. Bridge, and Lock 4, near Thomas Jefferson St., were built between 1829-1831, according to NPS. It took artisans using tools from the 1800s two years to fully reconstruct them.

RELATED: Historic lock keeper's house reopens to the public on the National Mall

Craftsman used light gray sandstone form the Aquia Creek, a tributary in Virginia that flows into the Potomac River. This type of sandstone helped construct several of the District's landmarks including the White House and U.S. Capitol Building, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Sandstone from the Aquia Creek, in Virginia, was used to build several icon buildings in D.C.

Historic restoration takes a lot of precision. The multi-year project began on Oct. 27 2016, when the canal was drained from Lock 5.

"Each stone from the wall of Lock 3 was cataloged, disassembled and reassembled in its original location," NPS said.

Excavation work was completed by Clarke Construction under contract with the National Park Service, according to a press release from 2016. The restoration of Locks 3 and 4 ran slightly behind schedule: NPS originally projected it to be completed in 2018.

Credit: U.S. National Park Service
A view upstream from 30th St. bridge taken during reconstruction of Lock 3
Credit: U.S. National Park Service
Workers move ashlar stone into position on the 30th St. Bridge on the C&O Canal

The gates were originally made using southern yellow pine.

NPS and city leaders provided a short update on plans to fully restore the canal, and shared the timeline for re-introducing replica canal boats in 2020.

The event also included music and children's activities. 

The National Park Service brought a pair of mules to the canal in May, to teach children about how mules used to pull canal boats, walking along the towpath. 

Credit: Eliana Block
Mules were used historically in the 1800s to ferry boats along the C&O Canal

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