Don Harrison traveled to the Scarano Boat Building Company in Albany, N.Y. last Friday, where he saw a model canal boat under construction. The hull is nearing completion, and rails surround the upper deck. This boat is bound for the C&O Canal near Great Falls Tavern, where the Canal Clipper boat has sat inoperable for more than three years.
Like the boat itself, A fundraising effort led by Friends of Historic Great Falls Tavern to replace the boat is nearing completion. Friends of the Tavern have raised more than $470,000 and need another $75,000 by the end of July to cover costs of building and transporting the boat.
LOCAL BUSINESSES are joining the efforts. More than 45 merchants in Potomac Village will participate in Canal Boat Day on Saturday, May 20. "We’re trying to get the community aware of it," said Harrison, president of Friends of the Tavern.
The new boat is scheduled for delivery in mid-August. Like the Canal Clipper, it will be drawn by mules. Unlike the Canal Clipper, which was modeled after cargo boats, the new boat is modeled after packet boats, which were designed for passengers. The new boat will be fully handicapped-accessible, and a double-decker.
The Park Service is already taking reservations for school field trips this fall. "It’s been a good effort. We’ve struggled at times, and other times we were doing well," Harrison said. A mule-drawn boat will again operate for the public in September and October, after a nearly four-year absence. Life expectancy of the new boat is more than 50 years. Visit www.buildacanalboat.com.