Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park | CHARLES MILL RUINS

Charles Mill Ruins at Mile 108.2 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath

Charles Mill Ruins at Mile 108.2 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath


The ruins of Charles Mill are located at Mile 108.2 on the C&O Canal towpath. It is not accessible by vehicle, so reaching it requires hiking or biking .75 mile (one way) downstream from the nearest parking area, Lock and Lockhouse 49. See the Locks and Lockhouses web page for an interactive location map.


One of the coolest structures along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is not even part of the canal. In fact, it’s not even part of Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. However, it is right along the towpath on private property and can be seen without any additional effort.

The Charles Mill was a grist mill owned by the Charles Family, the family that still owns the property today. A mill—I’m not sure if it is this exact one—is thought to have been at this location since around 1790. Once the C&O Canal was built, the mill was so close that flour could be loaded directly onto the canal boats. It operated until sustaining severe damage in a 1924 flood, the same flood that effectively ended the operation of the canal.

Charles Mill Ruins at Mile 108.2 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath

Charles Mill Ruins at Mile 108.2 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath

For a structure that has been rotting away for nearly 100 years, the Charles Mill is in fairly good condition. Three walls still stand, and you can see the steel waterwheel. However, the walls do teeter precariously, so I highly doubt it will be around for another 100 years.

Waterwheel of the Charles Mill at Mile 108.2 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath

Waterwheel of the Charles Mill at Mile 108.2 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath

Ruins of the Charles Mill at Mile 108.2 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath

Ruins of the Charles Mill at Mile 108.2 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath

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Last updated on June 3, 2024
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