Potomac Canal Historic District (Patowmack Canal at Great Falls)

VLR Listing Date


NRHP Listing Date


NHL Listing Date


NRHP Reference Number


The Patowmack Company was organized in 1785 to make the Potomac River navigable from Georgetown to Harper’s Ferry, a project designed to bring western trade to the Chesapeake region. The Patowmack Canal at Great Falls, one of the earliest in the country to have locks, was innovative from an engineering standpoint. George Washington, a prime mover in Potomac River improvements, served as the company’s first president. The Patowmack Canal Corporation went bankrupt and dissolved its charter in 1826. The Potomac Canal was abandoned in 1830. The section of the Potomac Canal Historic District at Great Falls preserved by the National Park Service contains several locks and numerous archaeological sites relating to the canal and the town of Matildaville, which was planned to serve the canal at Great Falls but eventually disappeared. A remarkable engineering feat is the deep canal trace cut through the rock cliffs.

Last Updated: February 17, 2024

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

For additional information Read

Nomination Form

1982 NHL Nomination


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