We stayed in historic Lockhouse 10 on the C&O Canal! We share our tips for your stay and a video tour of the Lockhouse.
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Here at All of Our Homes, we love old houses, (that’s why we live in a 1905 Victorian Farmhouse!) There’s just something so charming about visiting an old house and to learn about it’s history. So when we found out about a historic lock house from 1830 that was available for rent we couldn’t wait to spend a weekend there!
WATCH THE LOCKHOUSE 10 TOUR
C&O CANAL TODAY
If you’re planning a trip the Washington, DC area, or if you live in the DMV and are look for a scenic weekend getaway, check out Canal Quarters. They offer seven lock houses along the C&O Canal that have been renovated and made available for rental by the public, the first one located just outside the DC border in Maryland and the last one, 100 miles west in Clear Spring, MD.
The C&O Canal is a beautiful place to visit. It’s hugely popular with outdoor enthusiasts for hiking, biking, and bird watching. The canal follows along the Potomac River where you can access the water for kayaking and fishing. There are very few other houses, or places to stay unless you plan on camping in this National Park, so the being able to stay in a lock house is a really unique opportunity.
Using the canal’s towpath it’s possible to bike from Washington, DC all the way out to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. You could camp along the way, or you could also stay at a couple of these lock houses along the way!
C&O CANAL HISTORY
The C&O Canal was constructed in the early 19th century. It was a huge infrastructure project, built to transport goods like coal and timber from the country’s interior to the ports in the East. The C&O Canal runs from Cumberland, Maryland all the way to Georgetown in Washington, DC.
There are 64 lock houses along the C&O canal. We stayed in Lockhouse 10, which was built in 1830 as a residence for the lock keeper. The lock keeper was in charge of operating the lock gate for boats moving up and down the canal. Day and night, the lock keeper had to be available to open the lock gates.
Unfortunately, the canal was antiquated almost as soon as it was completed. Trains quickly overtook the canal as a more efficient way of transporting goods. By the early 20th century, the C&O Canal stopped its service, and fell into disrepair.
In the 1940s, the lower part of the canal was restored by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In fact, Lockhouse 10 was also restored during this period.
The interior of Lockhouse 10 is decorated with black and white photos from the canal’s CCC history. For history buffs like me, it was great to check out the photos and read the captions. They really help to transport you back to the time when this house was used as lodging for the men who re-built the canal during the New Deal.
In 1971, the C&O Canal was established as a National Park.
STAYING AT LOCKHOUSE 10
We live in the Washington, DC area and were looking for a convenient scenic fall getaway. The Canal Quarters are quite popular, so when we saw that Lockhouse 10 was available over a fall weekend, we booked it right away!
The cabin is located in Bethesda, Maryland, just inside the Beltway. When arriving you take the Lock 10 parking exit, but bypass the parking lot and pull right up to the house. From outside, the house is lovely. It’s stone clad and surrounded by large trees and has a lovely screened in porch. There’s a fire ring with a grill and a picnic table off to the side of the cabin.
The house is about 30 yards up from the canal, and has small driveway, so it feels separated from the public areas. There are trees and brush surrounding the yard, but the house is visible from the towpath (about 50 yards away) where a stream of people are walking and hiking. Sometimes people will stop along their way to admire the beautiful stone building. Not exactly a feeling of seclusion, but I must admit I felt fortunate to be staying in this unique house that everyone was staring at!
INSIDE LOCKHOUSE 10
The interior of the house is clean and functional. (Watch the video above for a tour inside.) There’s a nice large kitchen that’s fully stocked with plates, utensils and cookware. There’s a 1950’s style kitchen table that seats five right next to a window that overlooks the canal. I think this was my favorite spot inside the house! It’s the perfect place for lingering after breakfast with a coffee and newspaper.
The living room has a dining table and several large cushioned chairs. There’s a fireplace, but unfortunately indoor fires are not permitted. It would have been nice to have a couch in the living room, as the cushioned chairs were not very comfortable. Definitely didn’t feel like a space you would want to spend much time in.
Upstairs are two bedrooms and the bathroom. The first bedroom has a double bed with a single trundle bed underneath. The second bedroom has three single beds. The rental does not provide bed sheets, so make sure to bring your own. My wife and I shared the double bed and we set up a bed for our toddler son in the other bedroom. The bed was not very comfortable for us. It had a thin mattress and a very bouncy, noisy spring underneath. I think we would have been better off each using one of the single beds in the other bedroom.
WHAT TO DO NEAR LOCKHOUSE 10
We had a very enjoyable time at Lockhouse 10. We took several walks and bike rides up and down the canal. The canal is mostly flat so walking and biking were both easy for our toddler son. We definitely needed to keep a close eye on him while on the towpath. There’s a good amount of walkers, runners and bikers on the towpath, which is about 12 feet wide. There are places where there are pretty steep drops on either side, so keep a close eye on young kids while on the towpath.
We also explored a little bit down by the Potomac River, which is quite lovely. There are a number of paths off the towpath that lead down to the river. Right by Lockhouse 10 is a place to launch a kayak.
Since the cabin is so conveniently located in the DC area, we were able to invite some friends over to roast marshmallows at the fire pit. The kids loved running around the cabin and making s’mores while the adults got to catch up around the fire. We brought our own logs for the fire, but there was plenty of pre-cut logs right next to the fire ring as well.
For meals, my wife and I decided we wanted to make it really easy on ourselves. The house is located to a number of grocery stores and restaurants, so we ate take out and pre-prepared meals.
FOOD NEAR LOCKHOUSE 10
PROS OF LOCKHOUSE 10
Lockhouse 10 is a great getaway if you’re looking for a scenic, historic house rental that is less than 30 minutes from Washington, DC. For the outdoors enthusiast, you can’t beat the convenience of staying right on the canal towpath for hiking, biking, fishing or kayaking. If you’re interested in history, it’s really a unique opportunity to stay in a historic house from the early 19th century. The fire pit and the screened in porch were our favorite amenities. Even though we didn’t cook, the kitchen is quite nice and has a great table with a view.
CONS OF LOCKHOUSE 10
The house is clean and functional, but not very comfortable. We missed having a couch to kick back on at the end of the night.
If you’re looking for a secluded getaway, Lockhouse 10 is scenic, but certainly not secluded. The house is steps away from the C&O Canal towpath, parking lot and park visitors. The house is also situated right next to the Clara Barton Parkway. Traffic on the parkway is audible from inside the house.
The Canal Quarters lock house rentals have a wide range of amenities; so make sure to check what is available at each place. For instance, Lockhouses 6, 10, and 21 have full amenities, meaning electricity and running water, heating and cooling; Lockhouses 22, 25, and 28 are rustic, with no electricity or water, they will have access to a water pump and a portable toilet; Lockhouse 49 has electricity only, with access to a water pump and portable toilet.
Usually when we take trips to cabins in the country, it means driving between 2-3 hours away, and staying in a remote cabin far away from the nearest neighbor or even a grocery store. This historic home was a less than 30 minute drive! In fact it is so close that we were able to invite our friends to come visit us during the day for some socially distant outdoor hang time by the fire.