The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park houses the nearly two hundred mile long Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The canal has been operating for over one hundred years, utilizing the Potomac to provide a method for hauling coal, lumber and agriculture to other areas. Thousands of visitors travel to the area to learn about the history, participate in public boat rides, explore the visitor center, and take part in biking, hiking and camping.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was built in the 1830s when the canal was dug by immigrants. They commonly used gun powder and extreme hard labor to dig the canal. Those that were lucky enough to survive the actual labor and work of the canal often fell victim to other things like poor hygiene, cholera and other diseases, fighting, and other types of accidents. Thousands were buried in unmarked graves near the digging site. Long before the canal was being dug, the area was inhabited by Conoy and Piscataway Indians who are said to still roam the lands.
One of the most popular places in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park is Haunted House Bend on Turtle Creek. The camp site is commonly sold out near mile marker 33. The initial history originated in October of 1861. Union troops were driven down into the valleys of what is now known as the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park, for the Battle at Balls Bluff. Located across from Harrison’s Island, the great battle raged on.
Locks keepers and boatsmen were unaware of the battle but did take note of odd shapes floating down the river and heard the sounds of gun shots very nearby. It wasn’t until later that they learned the dark shapes they had seen floating down the canal were actually bodies from wounded or fallen soldiers. Long after the gun smoke had cleared, soldiers and troops still reported hearing noises from the shores and woods. Commonly the sounds were described as screams or moans, but no source could ever be located. Some even reported seeing apparitions of soldiers on land or drifting down the river.
From the day of the battle and on, travelers reported issues with mules who appeared restless or spooked when traveling past that specific area. The area known as Haunted House Bend was also avoided from that point forward for overnight stays. Brave campers can stay at Turtle Run. Though the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park closes before dark, those courageous enough to camp can hike down to the very area of the battle and experience the paranormal activity for themselves.
Other visitors of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park are drawn in by stories of murder, betrayal, a Sasquatch, UFOs, and mysterious orbs. Paw Paw Tunnel is said to be the home of a headless man. Lock house 62 was the site of the gruesome murder of Lock tender Joe Davis and his wife back in 1934. They are said to still appear at the lock house, unaware that their shifts have long since ended. Finally, Twigg lock was the previous home of the Twigg family. After one successful hunting trip, one of the sons fell in love with a Native American bride. After bringing her home, although anticipating a warm reception by his family, he was quickly disappointed. They banished he and his new bride, sending them off on their own. The bitter family fued continued over the years, resulting in betrayal and bloodshed that lasted even into the afterlife.