WILLIAMSPORT, Md. (WDVM) — The National Park Service joined the town of Williamsport to celebrate the completed Conococheague Aqueduct and a new C&O visitor center headquarters.
The Cushwa Basin was flooded with people Thursday morning for the Conococheague aqueduct ceremony. For the first time since 1942 the historic aqueduct is now watered and fully operational allowing boats to pass over into Conococheague Creek. Governor Larry Hogan (R-Md.) says this is a very special moment in history.
“Williamsport will be the only place in north America where visitors can experience every aspect of a working canal,” Hogan said.
The national park service helped restore the aqueduct using timber and original stones. U.S. Senator Ben Cardin says he takes pride in working on projects with other parties that support opportunities like this.
“A democrat and a republican working together so that the governor could use funds, local governments could use funds to create the opportunities for people to be able to enjoy their community riding a bike and walking, this was a great investment of funds to get this completed,” Cardin said.
As different U.S. senators approached the podium, they described all the hard work and determination it took to make this restoration project a reality.
Senator Van Hollen was also at the event and said, “Today’s news is a huge win for Williamsport and for Maryland as a whole. We are proud to serve as the Headquarters of the C&O Canal and to steward this national treasure. The new Headquarters and renovated Conococheague Aqueduct will boost Williamsport’s recreation and tourism industries and ultimately spur economic growth. I’m glad we were able to work together, partnering on the state, local, and federal levels to get this done.”
The Williamsport town manager says he has been working on this project for over six years and to see the completed phases is very special for Washington County.
“I’m trying to control my emotions, its been six years that we started this project I think I ate it drank it slept it but it’s here,” Donnie Stotelmyer said.
The $10.2 million project took two years to complete. The new construction of the park headquarters and visitor center is projected to be completed by 2021.