The historic C&O Canal, which has been without water inside the District for six of the past 10 years, is being refilled.
The sluice gates at Lock No. 5 above Chain Bridge were opened Monday, after completion of $1 million in construction work to repair the 150-year-old stone walls and locks of the canal in Georgetown and to remove 13,000 cubic yards of silt.
The first trickles of water arrived in Georgetown Monday afternoon, according to the National Park Service, and the canal should be full by today.
One thing that will not be returning to Georgetown with the water is the Park Service's mule-drawn canal barge, unless another barge is donated to the Park Service or someone offers to operate a barge concession in Georgetown.
Spokeswoman Sandra Alley said the Park Service plans to keep its reinforced concrete replica barge operating above Great Falls, where it has been plying the waters at 2 miles an hour behind two mules since l979.
The $200,000 barge was donated to the Park Service during the Bicentennial by Government Services Inc., the nonprofit company that operates concessions on federal property here.
The last of the original wooden barges was destroyed in June 1972, when tropical storm Agnes caused $60 million damage to the canal and washed out sections between Georgetown and Chain Bridge.
The canal was repaired and rewatered during the Bicentennial but it was shallow and filled with mud, and the huge stone walls and heavy wooden locks in Georgetown were crumbling.
The canal was drained two years ago and the popular new barge was hauled up to Great Falls. It makes regular three-mile trips for the public and private groups through the end of October, starting at Great Falls Tavern. CAPTION: Picture, Near Key Bridge in Georgetown, a jogger trots along the C&O Canal after completion of $60 million in restoration work. By Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post