One day this fall a team of mules will tow The Georgetown canal boat along the C&O Canal towards Fletcher's Cove, where the boat will be demolished.
The National Park Service, which operates the C&O Canal and its historic outreach programs, determined that repairs to the mule-drawn 1870's replica boat would be "cost prohibitive." Since making that determination, the challenge has been to determine how exactly to move the vessel.
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Brian Carlstrom, the deputy superintendent for the NPS's C&O Canal, said the bids from companies that would have used a crane to lift the boat from its dry dock all came in "far too expensive."
"We would have liked to have done this sooner," said Carlstrom. But the bids were "more than we could justify for a demolition project."
Now the plan is to likely have several mules pull the boat along the more narrow section of the canal in Georgetown and then have trucks pull it the rest of the four-mile journey to the end of the line for The Georgetown.
The costs and logistical issues also meant that the planned launch boat program, which they had hoped to begin last month, will likely not begin until next spring.
The Canal Launch Boat Interpretive Program will serve as a stop-gap alternative to the mule-drawn boat. They are replicas of the 30-foot, battery-powered boats that frequented the canal during the late 19th and early 20th century.
Not everyone is excited about the launch boat program.
Arlette Cahen-Coppock, a local salon owner whose shop overlooks Lock 4 on the historic canal, gathered more than 200 signatures to encourage the Park Service to continue a mule-drawn boat program on the canal. She also hosted a "farewell" party for the boat in June.
In a previous interview, John Noel a regional spokesperson for the National Park Service told Patch that NPS "hopes" to be able to have another canal boat in Georgetown "at some point," but that the agency does not currently have the money.
"We wanted to save the boat," explained Cahen-Coppock. "Now what we want to do is find someone who can help us find funds for a new boat."
Patch will provide updates on the The Georgetown's departure date when it is announced.