|Credit: Ed Neville|
|River Center Activities|
|The River Center is open Saturdays and Sundays from May through October, from 11am to 2pm. Stop in for a tour, to browse educational exhibits, and to speak with friendly volunteer River Center Guides. Visit the River Center on select Sundays for Voices of the River to learn more about the history, ecology, and diversity of the Potomac River, as told by storytellers, musicians, and scientists. Throughout the season, the Conservancy also hosts a variety of hands-on appreciation and restoration activities at the River Center. All activities are free and open to the public. Located along the C&O Canal towpath, the River Center at Lock 8 exists among potentially difficult terrain and therefore has limited access. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please call us at 301.608.1188 if you would like more information. Check our online calendar for River Center and other Conservancy activities.|
Housed in a historic lockhouse along the C&O Canal, the River Center at Lock 8 offers visitors a glimpse into the history of the Canal and the future of the Potomac River. Visitors can explore the River Center to learn about the Potomac River, the C&O Canal, nearby recreational opportunities, and how they can help the Potomac Conservancy protect the health, beauty, and enjoyment of these special resources. The River Center is located halfway between the NPS interpretive centers in Georgetown and Great Falls. Each year, as many as 250,000 visitors pass its front door and have the opportunity to:
- Learn About the Canal's History: Visitors can explore educational displays about the history of the C&O Canal, the lockhouses, and the families who once lived in them.
- Take Part in Hands-on Learning Opportunities: Potomac Conservancy organizes educational and cultural events for citizens of all ages.
- Lend a Hand in River Restoration Projects: The River Center at Lock 8 offers a readily accessible area for river restoration activities, such as invasive plant removal efforts and trash cleanups.
Built in 1830 to provide shelter for the Lockkeeper and his family, Lock 8 played a vital role in the operation of the C&O Canal as a primary transportation route along the Potomac River. Lock 8 is the first of the series of locks known as "Seven Locks," which raise the Canal 56 feet over the distance of one and a quarter miles. Solomon Drew, the first keeper of Lock 8, was paid $100 per year.In the early 1900s, canal operations ended and the Lockhouse was abandoned...until a unique partnership between the Potomac Conservancy and the National Park Service in 2001 brought it back to life as the River Center at Lock 8.
If you are interested in volunteering in any of the following capacities, please contact Anna Wadhams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Canal Stewards: Help the Conservancy clean up and beautify the land and water along mile 8 and mile 9 of the C&O Canal towpath.
- Art buffs: Help coordinate and execute occasional exhibits of river art and photographs.
- Educational leaders: Lead children in a nature learning activity once a month.
- Event coordinators: Help plan special events at the River Center.
A tip of the hat and many thanks to the following River Center Guides: Adnan Alsaffar, Richard Behrend, Steve Boyce, Karen Crawford, Michele Coppola, Eileen Falcone, Marijke Gate, Meredith Griggs, Ted Guss, Heléne Grove Kenny, Judy Thibault Klevins, Al Larsen, Anne Larsen, Chuck Pfleeger, Joan Rubin, Kyna Rubin, PJ Ryan, Tim Shank, Beverly Sullivan, Eric Tarring, Judy Welles and Ann Wolfe.
The River Center features "Backyard to the Bay," an exhibit that
informs River Center visitors about the natural diversity, and scenic beauty of the Potomac River. The exhibit explores past and present human influences on the Potomac River watershed, especially the cause-and-effect relationship of human activities and the health of the ecosystem. Most importantly, the exhibit shows visitors how their actions affect the river.The exhibit is a part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, a partnership of parks, refuges, museums, historic sites, and water trails spanning the watershed. The River Center exhibit makes a strong connection between the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.
Potomac Conservancy thanks the following sponsors for their support in bringing Lock 8 back to life as the River Center: National Park Service Carlo LaPorta Carlson Family Foundation Benjamin Moore Paints BOWA Builders, Inc. Dean's Custom Floors Manion & Coratola Architects Capital Sun Group, LTD Evenor Armington Fund Spiral 8 Designs Jack Mandel Designs. Thanks to the following sponsors for their ongoing in-kind support of activities at the River Center at Lock 8: Whole Foods Market - Silver Spring Hughes Landscaping Bethesda Co-Op Capital Rentals Market on the Boulevard