Canal Quarters Lockhouse 22 - "Pennyfield"

Experience the Canal as a lock keeper would HAVE.

Welcome to Lockhouse 22!

The C&O Canal Trust's Canal Quarters program presents the opportunity for visitors to experience what it was like to live in a lockhouse along the C&O Canal.

Photo (left): House at Lock No. 22, ca. 1900 photograph. From Library of Congress Files.

Let's explore the Lock 22 area!


Built in 1832, Lockhouse 22 is located at Lock 22 of the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal. The canal stretches 184.5 miles from Georgetown in Washington D.C., to its terminus in Cumberland, Maryland. Lock 22 is located at mile 19.64 near Potomac, Maryland.

Photo credit (background): Nicholas Clements

What is a lock (lift lock)?

Locks are like elevators or stairs for boats. By changing the level of the water, they lift boats up or down to the next section of the canal. There are a total of 74 lift locks that were built along the C&O Canal. From end to end, the change in elevation along the canal is 605 feet.

Watch the video for an illustrated demonstration of how a lock works.

Photo credit (background): Paul Graunke

What is a lockhouse?

Lock keepers needed to live extremely close to the lock(s) that they managed. Boats could come through day or night, so lock keepers had to be ready to help operate the lift locks at any time. Houses were built right beside the canal for the lock keepers to live in. These houses were called lockhouses.

Can you imagine the sound of a boat horn calling you in your sleep; breaking the night's peaceful silence?

A period photo of a canal boat in Pennyfield Lock. Credit: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Photo Credit (background): C&O Canal National Historical Park

Why is Lock 22 called "Pennyfield"?

The Pennifields (whose name was spelled with an “i”) are the best known of those who resided at Lock 22 and were the lock keepers for at least two generations. The lock took its name from them. Their occupancy at Pennyfield Lock began with George Washington Pennifield who was in charge of the lock for 25 years. His son, Charles H. W. Pennifield, later took his place as lock keeper. George Pennifield resided in the lockhouse until his death in 1911 at the age of 81. Charles Pennifield died in 1923 at the age of 66, leaving behind his wife and son, George Pennifield.

The Washington Times (Washington [D.C.]), June 19, 1923

If the walls of Lockhouse 22 could talk, what do you think they would say?

The Pennyfield House (Pennyfield Inn)

Not to be confused with the lockhouse, the Pennyfield House (also known as Pennyfield Inn) stood across the lock from the lockhouse. Built in 1879, the Pennyfield House was visited by former U.S. President Grover Cleveland, where he would stay during his fishing trips. Over the years, the inn fell into disrepair and no longer stands today.

The World (Martinsburg, W. Va.), March 27, 1893

Pennyfield - A World of Its Own

The locks along the canal, especially those offering a variety of services such as at Pennyfield Lock, were small worlds focused on the rhythms of the canal.

Pennyfield Lock retains elements of the historic scene specific to this site. Though most of the wooden buildings associated with life along the canal are gone, the site has characteristics special to it and not found in many parts of the canal.

Now that you know the history, let's talk about present-day!

Photo (left): Lockhouse 22 circa 1938-1939 Credit: C&O Canal National Historical Park

Today, as one of the lockhouses in the C&O Canal Trust's Canal Quarters program, Lockhouse 22 is available for visitors to enjoy a unique, interpretive, overnight experience. For a fee, visitors can book a stay for one or more days.

Lockhouse 22 is one of the "rustic" lockhouses available in the Canal Quarters program - meaning it contains no modern conveniences like electricity, indoor plumbing, or HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning).

How would your life be different without the use of electricity or indoor plumbing?

The furnishings in Lockhouse 22 are evocative of the mid-1830s to early-1840s period.

Like the Pennifield family and the other lock keepers who came before them, guests need to bring in their own water, cook their food over a fire,* and light the lanterns if they want to read in the living room at night. Many people say that living a simpler, more relaxing life without modern demands can be very relaxing and educational too!

*The fireplaces in the lockhouse are non-operational and prohibited from use. A fire ring for campfires is available outside.

What a quaint, inviting house! Wouldn't you like to stay there?


Supported in part by a grant through the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County.