Swains lockhouse is so named because it was the residence of the Swain family for decades. Swain family members worked on the original construction of the canal in the 19th century, worked as boatmen, and operated the lockhouse here at Lock 21. Swains lived here during the flood of 1889; in 1936, when bridges across the Potomac were destroyed; and during floods in 1942 and 1972. Jesse Swain was the lock tender when the canal closed down in 1924. Swains continued to live here until the 1990s and operated a canoeing concession as late as 2006.
The years have not been kind to the lockhouse. Photos of its current state of deterioration are here. The Friends of Historic Great Falls Tavern are raising funds for its reconstruction. You can contribute to the restoration project here.
Photo © James W. Moore. Used by permission.
History of Swains Lockhouse