Mountain Maryland Byway

Explore the wild side of Maryland, characterized by rugged mountain trails and rushing river waters, with a bit of Mountain Maryland's history mixed in.

About the Byway

Once a major center in the US coal industry, the Georges Creek Valley was historically known as "The Big Vein" for its thick seam of bituminous coal, famous for its clean-burning, low-sulfur content that made it ideal for powering ocean steamers, riverboats, locomotives, steam mills, and machine shops. Due to the discovery of the bituminous coal, Lonaconing built the Iron Furnace, which was the first in the United States to successfully use coal and coke fuel, rather than charcoal, to produce pig iron. The massive furnace produced nearly 75 tons of iron per week at its height of production and supplied dowels for the C&O Canal's lock walls. With coal as the main export, at the advent of the railroad, rail lines were built from Westernport to Frostburg and Cumberland to transport products across the country, with Allegany County lines including the George's Creek and Cumberland Railroad, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad, and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad.

Exploring the Byway

The Mountain Maryland Scenic Byway begins in the heart of Cumberland at the Canal Place Heritage Park and Western Maryland Railway Station, where you can enjoy recreation on the C&O Canal Towpath, Great Allegheny Passage, and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad excursion train. Follow Route 40 and Route 36 through the Narrows and historic Mount Savage, where the very first iron rails were produced for rail lines in the United States. Continue on the route to explore the Evergreen Heritage Center, complete with the brand new Living Off the Land Agricultural Museum, and the City of Frostburg's Main Street and Arts and Entertainment District. Stop into the Frostburg Museum for a look at the area's coal mining history and the life of the citizens of Frostburg during its foundational years. As you continue on Route 36 down through Lonaconing and Westernport, stop at the Lefty Grove Memorial Park, the Iron Furnace and Park, and the Westernport Railroading Museum. As you make your way back to Cumberland on Route 220, stop off at some of the Potomac River access points for fishing or paddle trips. 

Add Adventure to Your Trip

Points of Interest Along the Scenic Byway

  • 15613 Trimble Road NW
  • (301) 687-0664

This historic farm, located just outside Mt. Savage, was established over 200 years ago. It includes three museums (the Farmhouse Museum, Agricultural Museum in the c.1783 barn, and the Coal Camp Museum) plus acres of gardens, greenhouses, a sawmill, and three outdoor pavilions…

  • Iron Furnace Park, Main Street

Built in 1837 by the George's Creek Coal and Iron Company, the Iron Furnace was the first in the United States to successfully use coal and coke fuel rather than charcoal to produce pig iron. The massive furnace produced nearly 75 tons of iron per week at its height of…

  • 13 Canal Street

Preserving America's early transportation history, the C&O Canal began as a dream of passage to Western wealth. Operating for nearly 100 years the canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber, and agricultural products floated down the waterway to…

  • 3 Union Street

Lefty Grove was born in the small coal-mining town of Lonaconing, Maryland, on March 6, 1900. He rose from the depths of abject poverty to become one of the greatest players in baseball history. Lefty retained a residence in Lonaconing throughout his baseball career. He raised…

The Gary Yoder Soft Launch, formerly known as Black Oak Bottom, is a scenic stretch of the North Branch Potomac River. There are great fisheries along this stretch of the river. This site is for non-motorized vessels (canoes and kayaks) only. Park in the open, grassy field and…

  • Recreation Road

Dans Mountain State Park is located in Allegany County, Maryland. The park can be accessed off I-68 at Exit 34 by traveling south on Maryland Route 36 for approximately nine miles. Dans Mountain State Park serves as a seasonal recreational facility that covers 481 acres and…

  • 13 Canal Street
  • (301) 876-2887

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad has been providing train rides and railroad adventures for families and railroad fans for over 30 years in the heart of Mountain Maryland. Enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of your journey from the comfort of one of our vintage passenger…

  • Old Dan's Rock Road SW

One of the most iconic overlooks in Allegany County, Dan's Rock sits at the highest point in elevation in the county and features the most stunning views of the Allegheny Front. This scenic overlook takes its name from Daniel Cresap, the oldest son of Thomas Cresap. Native…

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