C&O Canal Trust’s app wins award

The C&O Canal Trust’s new mobile app, the C&O Canal Explorer, was awarded the Innovative Product Partnership Award from the Public Lands Alliance.

The award was announced during the recent Public Lands Alliance Convention and Trade Show in Palm Springs, Calif.

The app was developed by the C&O Canal Trust, the official nonprofit partner of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. The trust works in partnership with the National Park Service and local communities to raise funds to preserve the park and broaden support through programs that highlight the Park’s historical, natural and cultural heritage and recreational opportunities.

The mobile app launched in the summer of 2017 as a navigation and interpretation tool to assist visitors in exploring the 184.5 mile-long C&O Canal National Historical Park. It includes more than 600 points of interest in the park mapped in a searchable format, allowing users to find hiking trails, historic sites, trailheads, parking and other features. The app also calculates the distance from a user’s location to nearby amenities and points of interest, with the ability to view what lies upstream and downstream of a current location.

The Public Lands Alliance’s Partnership Awards honor individuals, organizations, publications, products, programs and services that embody leading edge achievements in the preservation of public lands and the enrichment of visitors.

The C&O Canal Explorer mobile app was developed at the request of the C&O Canal National Historical Park to help fill a gap in staffing.

Cermak Technologies Inc. from Chambersburg, Pa., handled the design and programming, while a corps of volunteer photographers shot the images used in the app. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club GPS Rangers also volunteered their time to collect GPS coordinates for each location. The project was funded in part by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.

“As the park’s official partner, we aim to improve the visitor experience in a variety of ways, and this app enables visitors to explore the Park with the help of the devices they already have in their pockets,” said Director of Marketing and Communications Heidi Schlag, who oversaw the creation of the app. “We hope the app helps users discover aspects of the Park they never knew existed. We are excited to provide that opportunity.”