Transportation History

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad

Cumberland, Maryland’s role as a transportation hub began before the colonial period. Native Americans followed trails from the Potomac Valley into the Allegheny Highlands. During the French and Indian War, British General Edward Braddock upgraded one of the trails into a wagon road in his effort to win Fort Duquesne and the Ohio Country. In the nineteenth century, the first major federally funded highway, the Historic National Road, linked Cumberland with Wheeling and the Ohio River in 1818. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad arrived in 1842, while the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal reached Cumberland eight years later. In the twentieth century, the Western Maryland Railway was completed to Cumberland in 1907, while US 40 and later Interstate 68 supplanted the Historic National Road. Today, the process has returned to its trail roots as multi-use recreational trails along historic transportation corridors linking Cumberland with Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh, PA. A number of sub-themes were created as well including Natural Resources, Cultural Resources, Recreational Resources, Nation Building/Industrial Revolution.

Explore the rich history of the C&O Canal and Cumberland.
Located along the Trestle Walk at Canal Place, The Cumberland allows visitors to learn about life in the heyday of the canal.
Canal Place, Maryland's first certified Heritage Area, is located at the historic western terminus of the C&O Canal in Cumberland.
Constructed in 1811, the National Road, the first federally funded road, made Cumberland "The Gateway to the West", establishing mile marker one.
Monument commemorating the 200th anniversary of the National Road. The National Road (also known as the Cumberland Road, and later US Route 40), was the first major improved highway in the United States built by the federal government.
The historic Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad is one of America's most beautiful train rides.
"The Narrows" is a compact, notched valley that Wills Creek has carved into Wills and Haystack mountains. The National Road passes through this steep, narrow river valley located in Cumberland.
Visit one of the top collections of horse-drawn vehicles representing all walks of life.
The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is an exciting mix of mountaintop scenery and rich transportation history.
This museum houses a collection of our area's railroad heritage.