Here in downtown Brunswick, we have such an important relationship with the C&O Canal and towpath. It is a deep part of our history and remains a significant source of tourism today. We are so thankful to the Community Foundation of Frederick County for recently awarding Brunswick Main Street the C&O Canal Endowment Fund of Frederick County! This grant will help Brunswick Main Street print and distribute the Canal Towns Brochure that highlights Brunswick’s unique history with the C&O Canal.
Brunswick’s History with the Canal
Brunswick was incorporated in 1787 with the name Berlin because of its many German settlers. Since Maryland already had another Berlin, the name was eventually changed to Brunswick. The C&O Canal and the B&O Railroad were built side-by-side here. Both were operating in the town by 1834, but in the late 1800s the B&O built a six-mile rail yard in Brunswick, transforming it into a railroad company town. Today, the rail yard is virtually gone, but freight and passenger train services thrive. Early industry in the area was based on waterpower; ironically, the power of floods destroyed much from that time. The ruins of C. F. Wenner’s mill lie near the present Potomac River Bridge, as do those of C&O Canal Lock No. 30. Brunswick suffered raids by Confederates from across the river during the American Civil War. The wooden bridge over the Potomac was burned by Confederate troops in 1861, forcing the Union Army to construct a pontoon bridge to move troops and materials across the river into Virginia. After the Battle of Antietam, the Union Army used Brunswick as a major supply depot due to its central location. The C&O Canal had strategic importance to both sides in the war. The Union army used it for transporting troops and war supplies while Confederates tried to damage canal aqueducts and impair barge traffic. The fully restored Catoctin Aqueduct is just downstream from Brunswick along the towpath and was considered the most beautiful along the line by the old canalers.
To find a copy of the Brochure, visit: www.canaltrust.org/programs/canal-towns