During the colonial days, one of the main north-south thoroughfares was the C&O Canal, which began in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood and continued for 187 miles to Cumberland, Md. Back then, travel was by boat and slow as molasses. Along the canal, locks raised and lowered water levels so boats could travel pass through despite the changes in elevation.
Today, the canal no longer functions as a transportation route, but history buffs can still get a sense of what travel was like during this period. The canal belongs to the National Park Service, and several times a day at the Great Falls Lockhouse, you can take a mule-drawn boat ride up and down the canal. Arrive about a half-hour early so you can watch the park attendants close one lock and open the other in preparation for the journey.