Historic Boat 'The Georgetown' In Its Final Days | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Historic Boat 'The Georgetown' In Its Final Days

Mule-drawn boat to be scrapped by end of year

Play associated audio
The Georgetown is pulled by horses led by volunteers in late 1800s period dress.
Brennan Somers
The Georgetown is pulled by horses led by volunteers in late 1800s period dress.

For decades, The Georgetown carried tourists up and down the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, but now the boat is dry-docked at the fourth lock, and  the beloved Georgetown icon is scheduled to be destroyed later this year.

The mule-drawn boat replicated travel on the canal during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and it's that authenticity that many residents say they will miss the most.

"When the boat goes by, and the mules come by with the click-click-click and then the boat comes at the same time... it looks like and impressionist painting floating away and every time the painting is different," says Arlette Cahen-Coppock, whose salon is right next to where the boat is docked.

Brian Carlstrom of the National Park Service says the boat burned to the water line about 20 years ago and was refurbished.

"Anytime a boat is damaged that severely, it's never going to be the same as it was originally," says Carlstrom.

Carlstrom says that about a year ago, a crack in the boat began to accelerate. Then a marine architect inspection found other problems that were previously unnoticed.

"Well, we managed to keep it going another 15 years or so, and last year we finally had to say enough is enough, we can't afford to maintain it any longer," says Carlstrom.

Carlstrom says all is not lost for those looking to travel on the canal. He says one or two new electric powered boats will begin servicing Georgetown next spring as part of the Canal Launch Boat Interpretive Program.

The "Launches," as they've come to be known, are much smaller, but they were developed from historic photographs of craft that were actually on the canal that was the inspiration for them.

Cahen-Coppock gathered more than 250 signatures petitioning to save the mule-drawn boat and paid tribute to The Georgetown with a farewell party a few weeks ago.

"The boat is an icon for Georgetown," says Cahen-Coppock. "For me just having the boat gone is like removing the Eiffel Tower of Georgetown."

Carlstrom says The Georgetown will be towed to Fletcher's Cove where it will be demolished sometime around Thanksgiving.

NPR

Weekend Musher Finds Dogs Keep Her Hanging On

Julia Bayly of Fort Kent, Maine, works as a reporter at the Bangor Daily News. Her passion outside of work is dog sledding. It's the latest installment in our hobby series "Alter Egos."
NPR

When Zero Doesn't Mean Zero: Trans Fats Linger In Food

One in 10 packaged foods still contains trans fats, according to a new study. The problematic oils give foods a rich taste and texture and extend shelf life, but have been linked to heart disease.
NPR

Rep. Ryan Calls For 'Culture Of Inclusion' To Tackle Poverty

Congressman and former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan discusses his new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.
NPR

New Amazon Series Pilots Fall Short Of A TV Revolution

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans ranks Amazon's new batch of five series pilots, asking why none of them seem break the rules of TV quite enough to draw attention.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.