Chesapeake City and Canal Day

By | Jun 25, 2008

If the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal had not been built during the early part of the 19th Century, more than likely the town of Chesapeake City may not exist. It was at a location originally called Bohemia Village, that two locks were established to allow vessels to pass through the different water levels.

As the canal traffic increased so did the town. By 1849 Chesapeake City was an incorporated town, 10 years after it changed it’s name. The town exists on both side of the canal with a bridge that connects the two parts of town. This bridge on MD 213 is the only bridge that crosses the canal in Maryland.

The C&D Canal is presently owned by the Federal Government. They purchased the canal for $2.5 Million in 1919 and is controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Since that time the government has eliminated all of the canal locks and the waterway runs as a sea-level canal connecting the Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River. It’s estimated that 40 percent of the cargo that enters the Port of Baltimore is carried through the canal.

Chesapeake City is the home of the main project office for the canal as well as the C&D Canal Museum and Bethel Bridge Lighthouse.

Each year Chesapeake City, Maryland holds a festival called Canal Day. It is generally held on the last Saturday in June. In recent years the event, while popular with many, including boaters, has had a lot of criticism. These are a few boaters who have turned it into an adult event. One where girls on boats bare their breasts sometimes with encouragement, other times without.

Canal Day began in 1975 as a an festival to raise funds for the Chesapeake City Civic Association. In 2007 the event was visited by an estimated 400 boats and 10,000 visitors. While the main event is on a Saturday, there’s enough happening for many to make a 3 day weekend of it.

The sponsor of Canal Day has decided to discontinue the event:


The Chesapeake City Chamber of Commerce has decided to take on the event with a new name (due to the Civic Association holding rights to the name Canal Day) The new name is Canal Fest and will be held in 2012 on June 30, 2012.

But 2012 was the last year for Canal Days with not event scheduled for 2013. So ends tradition.


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