The town grew beginning in 1785 as a staging and headquarters area for construction of the canal. At its height the town boasted the Patowmack Canal Company superintendent's house, a market, grist mill, sawmill, foundry, inn, ice house, workers' barracks, boarding houses, and a number of residences. Boaters stopped there to wait their turn through the locks, to change cargo, or to enjoy an evening in town before continuing their journey.
The town declined rapidly after the Patowmack Canal closed in 1830, and is no longer occupied. Currently all that remains are a series of ruins on the grounds of Great Falls National Park.