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Spring Cleaning for the C&O Canal

Boat gets painted in time for upcoming season.

The historic boat carrying the Georgetown moniker got a fresh coat of paint over the weekend. The red, white and blue-painted wooden vessel was looking as withered as the drained canal in which it sat during the harsh months of winter.

Forty-five volunteers climbed down into the empty on Saturday morning to paint the exterior of "The Georgetown" and to remove debris--like soda bottles and lawn chairs--that collected at the bottom. The project is organized annually by the C&O Canal Association and conducted by the Volunteers-In-Park (VIPs)--those who pay the $15-$25 membership fee to take part in C&O Canal Park activities and projects.

At the end of each seven-month operational season (April thru October) and five months of frigid dormancy, the boat gets rather "beat up," says a park ranger at the C&O Visitor's Center at Great Falls, therefore requiring roughly two coats of paint.

The clean-up project will continue next Saturday, when volunteers will focus on the interior of "The Georgetown": floors, walls and benches.

The finishing touch that will make Georgetown fully prepared for the 2011 season: water. By opening the inlet lock at lock five, river water will rush downstream, filling the canal once again. This is faster than the inverse process of draining the canal, which is done by closing the locks and watching the water slowly lower over the course of a few days.

The 2011 season of mule-drawn boat rides begins Friday, April 1.

For more on the history of the C&O Canal in Georgetown check out our videos: , , .

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