Lock 20 & Great Falls Tavern


Mile 14.3 - It's not a tavern anymore, it's a museum of the C & O Canal.  There's a gift shop, displays of canal works, movies and bookstore.  Recommended.  There's also a number of other historical buildings nearby.  It's located right by Lock 20.  The parking lot for the Great Falls park is nearby and this area of the canal is usually filled with people.  Six Locks and nearby access to Olmstead Island and the Billy Goat Trail are big attractions.  Lock 20 is the last in the Six Locks series.

The Great Falls Park web site.

The nearby plaque reads

Lock 20 is also known as the Great Falls Tavern, a reminder of colorful days when boats carried cargoes of coal down the C&O Canal.  Begun in 1828, the same year as the canal, it was to be the lockhouse for Lock 20.  By 1832, the C&O Canal Company had built the north and south additions to accommodate the many travelers who came to visit the scenic wonders of the area. 

During the canal's heyday in the late 1800's, Great Falls Tavern was the center of an active community, serving variously as hotel, tavern and grocery as well as a home for the locktender of Locks 19 and 20.  It was a popular attraction well after the close of the canal in 1924 and continues to serve canal visitors as a museum and information center.