The Paw Paw Tunnel is a 3,118-foot-long (or 0.59 mile-long / 950 meter-long) canal tunnel on the Chesapeake and Ohio, or C&O Canal in Allegany County, Maryland. The nearby town by name is also called Paw Paw, right across the Potomac River is in West Virginia. The original purpose of the tunnel was to bypass the Paw Paw bends, a six-mile stretch of the river in order to shorten the travel of boats carrying various goods. The construction started in 1836 and was expected to be completed within two years with a projected total cost of $33,500. But the development proved far more complicated and much more costly than expected, and the tunnel did not open until 1850. The total cost was at a price over $600,000, it had nearly bankrupted the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company. One can argue that the Paw Paw tunnel project was destined to be doomed from the get-go due to development of the railroad system considering the first Baltimore & Ohio railroad was launched in 1827 in North America as it was chartered by Baltimore merchants. Regardless, the tunnel remained operational by canal boats until the C&O closed in 1924 when it finally became obsolete. The Paw Paw tunnel endured and stayed functional for commercial purposes over 70 years after it was finished, thus all the investment did not go unused. The tunnel and towpath are now maintained for public use as part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. Today the Paw Paw Tunnel can be easily explored with a flashlight, as the towpath is still intact. Visitors can return via the tunnel, or hike back over the two-mile-long (3.2 km) Tunnel Hill Trail. This passes informative markers about the German and Irish workers who lived along the path during the tunnel's construction.


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