Emma Horne Canal Community Story

I have been visiting the C&O Canal for as long as I can remember, beginning when I was in elementary school. Having grown up 10 minutes from the towpath in Washington County, I have fond memories from a young age of my parents taking me and my younger brother hiking with my dog many weekends.

Photo Credit: Emma Horne

As I look back on my teenage years, I am overwhelmed with happy memories that I made by the towpath- most of which were hiking with friends and family. But my absolute favorite memory from the C&O Canal is a camping trip on the night of my high school graduation. While most graduates were off to house parties, my best friends and I packed our tents, sleeping bags, food, and set off for an adventure. We set up camp at Antietam Creek Campground and decided to explore the towpath before it became too dark. We stumbled upon Lock 38 and observed the rich history before us. As we continued hiking, the serene beauty of the canal and its surroundings felt like the perfect backdrop for our night of celebration. At night, we roasted marshmallows and reminisced on our high school years under the starry sky.

Photo Credit: Trust Staff

The next morning, we woke up to the gentle sounds of birds chirping and the water of the Potomac River flowing, so we decided to take a morning swim before leaving. Although bittersweet, we left the canal with hearts full of gratitude for the unforgettable night we had shared and with hope for the future. We returned multiple times since that night, and that campground remains my favorite area on the towpath.

Photo Credit: Emma Horne

Growing up in an area with so much natural beauty and rich history is something I will forever be grateful for, but this didn’t hit me hard until I left for college. Moving to more of an urban setting with only a few short trails to see made me realize how much I appreciated home. I missed the C&O Canal, a place that feels like home to me with so much beauty and history, a place to walk to ease my mind. I missed observing all the plants and animals, hearing the sounds of the Potomac River, and visiting fun canal towns like Harper’s Ferry. Every time I came back home for breaks, I felt more amazed than before by the natural beauty of these places right in my backyard.

Photo Credit: Jeff Blander

I recently graduated college in May, and I have come full circle and recently joined the C&O Canal Trust! I will be interning with them for a year through the Chesapeake Conservation and Climate Corps program. I am thrilled to have the opportunity through my work to encourage others to appreciate the Canal as much as I do, especially through upcoming Canal For All programs. I am also working with the Park Service to curate a native plant meadow with educational information for visitors to enjoy. I am excited to give back to a park that has given me so much, which is exactly what drew me to the Trust!

Photo Credit: Emma Horne