Smithsonian Exhibit the Perfect Reason to Plan Your Own Trail Journey

Posted 07/11/12 by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in America's Trails

Photo of pioneers in Loup Valley, Custer County, NE © Smithsonian Institution

Do you live in the Washington, D.C., metro area, and are you looking for a reason to take an overnight trail trip this fall?

The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park, better known as the C&O Canal towpath, is one of the most popular trails in the region, with hikers and riders drawn to its flat gradient, the history of the corridor, and the small, welcoming communities along the trail between D.C. and Cumberland, Md.

One of these towns is Brunswick. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) visited Brunswick in June during the 2012 Greenway Sojourn. What we found was a very cool city with an old-school feel. There are diners, cafes, ice-cream shops and a new bike store, a terrific campground right on the trail and a number of lodging options nearby. One of the features is definitely Beans in the Belfry, a café and restaurant housed in a restored 100-year-old church on the main street.

Need an excuse? Well, in late August, the world-renown Smithsonian Institution is bringing an exhibit to Brunswick, expected to attract thousands of visitors from across America. Part of the Smithsonian's Museums on Main Street series, "Journey Stories" examines how we and our ancestors came to America. This exhibition is a great reason to build a journey story of your own-- along the C&O Canal to the historical community of Brunswick.

Photo of Great Migration, FL to NJ, 1940 © Smithsonian Institution

From the exhibition website: "Journey stories are a central element of our personal heritage. From Native Americans to new American citizens and regardless of our ethnic or racial background, everyone has a story to tell. Our history is filled with stories of people leaving behind everything - families and possessions - to reach a new life in another state, across the continent, or even across an ocean. The reasons behind those decisions are myriad. Many chose to move, searching for something better in a new land. Others had no choice, like enslaved Africans captured and relocated to a strange land and bravely asserting their own cultures, or like Native Americans already here, who were often pushed aside by newcomers. Our transportation history is more than trains, boats, buses, cars, wagons, and trucks. The development of transportation technology was largely inspired by the human drive for freedom."

To plan your trip to Brunswick, visit

For maps and more information on the C&O Canal, use RTC's free trail-finder website,

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