The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal operated from 1831 until 1924 along the Potomac River. To match the drop in river elevation, locks were installed along the canal to raise and lower boats. At one point the canal needed a change in elevation of 32′ so a series of four locks was installed in a short sequence.
The operation and maintenance of the locks required workers so the community of Four Locks began. Eventually the community included warehouses, stores, a school, and many houses.
No one lives at Four Locks now, and the canal is managed by the National Park Service as part of the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historic Park.
Several of the homes, canal buildings, and the canal stonework remain in excellent condition and visitors can wander around the historic site.
One building is kept maintained and managed by the National Park Service for use as an overnight accommodation; it’s possible to reserve this house and ‘live’ in Four Locks for a night.
The canal is constructed of large carved stone blocks and stacked stone walls. The stonework in the Four Locks area is amazingly intact.
This is the only watchhouse remaining on the entire C&O Canal.
The stone block construction of the locks is amazing.
Away from the locks the canal is built with stacked rock walls. These walls are also in excellent condition.
The towpath is now used by hikers and bicyclists as a recreation trail.
Two-story house with stone foundation and basement.
An eerily abandoned house sits near the Four Locks. Modern appliances, plush carpet, and left-behind items indicate the house was inhabited relatively recently. The peeling paint and dust on the floor indicate it wasn’t too recently.
On the park property and with a National Park Service sign on the door, the house was unlocked. Although there was no Visitors Welcome sign, it didn’t say Keep Out either. The doors are presumably unlocked so that the curious have no motivation to break in destructively. As a result, the windows and doors remain intact and functional.
Behind the house is this barn, that stands in excellent condition. The main portion is locked and the Park Service obviously uses it as a work area.