When the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was in operation, employees known as level walkers plugged leaks in the canal, kept beavers and muskrats in check, and generally reported on the condition of the canal, towpath, and all of the structures along the way. Today, only about thirty miles of the canal are watered, so the modern level walker has a different set of duties.
Today’s level walkers are volunteers who are members of the C&O Canal Association. Memberships are $15 per individual or $25 per family or patron. Association benefits include a quarterly newsletter and numerous opportunities to participate in hikes, picnics, boating, biking, etc. Level walking isn’t a necessary activity for association members, as one can join the bike patrol, volunteer at the many visitors centers along the towpath, or simply enjoy any of the activities listed above.
One peculiarity of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP is that it stretches out over a distance of 184.5 miles. Granted, it’s very narrow, but the odd shape and many miles make the park volunteers a great addition to the rangers and maintenance staff. For more information, visit the C&O Canal Association’s website at www.candocanal.org