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Dr. Karen Gray to speak about Irish workers on the C&O Canal

By Staff | Feb 28, 2014

On Saturday, Mar. 15, Dr. Karen Gray will open the Historic Shepherdstown 2014 Speaker Series with an illustrated lecture on the Irish workers who helped build the C&O Canal. Her talk will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Entler Hotel. She will discuss why most of the laborers were Irish, what their living work situation was like, the labor violence and Michael Bryne, an Irish immigrant who became one of the major heavy construction contractors of the time.

Following the lecture in the Entler, Dr. Gray will lead a walking tour on the canal talking about the canals connections with Shepherdstown, Lock 38, Bridgeport and the community around it. She will also talk about the cholera epidemics and their impact.

Dr Gray has been studying the C&O Canal since 1977. After living and working in Washington for nearly 30 years, she retired in 2001 and moved to Hagerstown, where she volunteers in the library of the Headquarters for the C&O Canal National Historical Park and writes “Accompanied by the Past,” a column for the C&O Canal Association newsletter, Along the Towpath. She speaks widely on the canal’s history and engineering.