MD -- C&O Canal NHP -- Cumberland (Canal and River):
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Copyrights: All pictures were taken by amateur photographer Bruce Guthrie (me!) who retains copyright on them. Free for non-commercial use with attribution. See the [Creative Commons] definition of what this means. "Photos (c) Bruce Guthrie" is fine for attribution. Feel free to use in publications and pages with attribution but you don't have permission to sell the photos themselves. A free copy of any printed publication using any photographs is requested. Descriptive text, if any, is from a mixture of sources, quite frequently from signs at the location or from official web sites; copyrights, if any, are retained by their original owners.
Specific picture descriptions: Photos above with "i" icons next to the bracketed sequence numbers (e.g. " ") are described as follows:
CUMBC_130330_038.JPG: Baltimore Street Bridge
City of Cumberland Maryland, built 1916
West of this bridge, now the site of Emmanuel Church, was located Fort Cumberland whence, in 1755, the expedition against Fort Duquesne was led by General Edward Braddock and Colonel George Washington.
On this site was located
Wooden Bridges in the following years 1790-1795-1805-1811
A Chain Bridge 1820-1837
A Wooden Covered Bridge 1837-1854
A Bollman Iron Bridge 1854-1891
A Plate Girder Bridge 1891-1916
CUMBC_130330_086.JPG: Life on the Canal:
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal ran from Georgetown in Washington, D.C. (Mile 0) to Cumberland, Maryland (Mile 184.5), paralleling the Potomac River. Most of the heavy shipping originated from the western terminus at Cumberland. Boatmen carrying coal, lumber, grain, and cement passed through Hancock, Williamsburg, Sharpsburg, the Harpers Ferry area and Brunswick on their way to Washington, D.C., where their cargoes were unloaded. A one-way trip usually took 5 to 7 days.
The lifeblood of the canal was its people -- the canal builders, boatmen, locktenders, mule drivers and families who lived and worked on the canal. Days were long and life was hard for the many people who made the canal run.
Mules powered the heavy cargo boats by walking along the towpath to "tow" the boats to and from Washington. "Packet" or passenger boats operated as well and were often pulled by horses. The canal had a series of structures for boats to pass through or over -- including lift locks, a tunnel, aqueduct bridges, and culverts. In addition to strong competition from the railroad, nature often threatened the canal with recurring floods of the Potomac River. A flood in the spring of 1924 closed the canal permanently for commercial shipping.
CUMBC_130330_094.JPG: Boat Building at the Cumberland Basin:
Cumberland, the western terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, was the location where the George's Creek coal from western Allegany County was transferred from the short line railroads to canal boats for shipment east. Cumberland was also the center for canal boat building. C&O Canal Company owned boat yards were located on the Little Basin. A number of private boat yards were located on the Little Basin. A number of private boat builders such as John Mertens and Sons had large boat building yards at the south end of the loading basin known as the Shriver Basin.
The boat builders were skilled craftsmen. Boats were built of Georgia pine and oak and caulked with a hemplike material called oakum. Boats could hold 120 tons of cargo each and could last 25 years or more. Originally built in varying sizes small enough to fit inside the 15 foot wide by 100 foot long locks, a standard size for boats of 14-1/2 feet wide by 90-95 feet long was adopted.
In the early years of canal operation, many boats were privately owned and given names such as Yankee, Pilgrim, Clementine and Three Sisters, but following formation of the Canal Towage Company in 1902, boats were numbered instead of named. At its peak, over 550 canal boats worked the canal, most constructed in Cumberland.
CUMBC_130330_100.JPG: Cumberland Terminus: Yesterday and Today:
Independence Day, July 4th, 1828. would be an important day for Cumberland, Maryland. On that day, far to the east, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad both broke ground. The finish line of these companies' race was the Ohio River. The prizes were markets for coal, lumber, and farm goods.
The canal followed the Potomac River for 184.5 miles, gaining 605 feet in elevation from Georgetown to Cumberland, as it headed for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In 1850, the canal finally reached Cumberland; the railroad had already arrived eight years earlier. Beaten by the railroad and financially exhausted by floods, the canal closed in 1924. Although it never linked with the Ohio River, for 74 years the canal provided an outlet for local products and labor, and helped build Cumberland into Maryland's second largest city, rivaled only by Baltimore. Evidence of the canal's contributions surround you.
CUMBC_130330_107.JPG: Civil War in Allegany County:
During the Civil War, thousands of United States soldiers were stationed here in Cumberland and Allegany County to guard against raids and incursions by Confederate forces. Located only about 130 miles from the capital at Washington D.C., and a short march from Winchester, Virginia, and Romney, West Virginia, at the lower end of the Shenandoah Valley, this area was strategically important to both sides in the conflict. Here in Cumberland was the western terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The National Road, a principal east-west thoroughfare, also ran through the area. Most significantly, Cumberland was a major stop on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, an artery used for the rapid transportation of Federal troops, supplies, and equipment. The protection of this vital lifeline between Wheeling, West Virginia, and Washington was concentrated in Cumberland. Because of its importance to the Union war effort, the railroad in Allegany County became a prime target for Confederate raiders. Allegany County also became home to a large United States military hospital complex, where thousands of sick, injured, and wounded soldiers received medical care. After the war ended, Cumberland became a major demobilization base.
Please enjoy your Maryland Civil War Trails tour and drive carefully. We hope you learn a great deal about the important role our community played in the conduct and outcome of the Civil War.
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Description of Subject Matter: The town of Cumberland is located on the western edge of Maryland and marks the union of Will's Creek into the Potomac River. In 1755, Fort Cumberland was established here. It was here that George Washington received his first commission. (His headquarters building from that time is still preserved here.) Years later, he would don his military uniform for the last time here as he instructed federal troops under Henry "Lighthorse" Lee on their orders for suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania.
Cumberland's importance in the 1800's, however, was due to it being the terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The canal, started in Georgetown in 1828, would reach 184.5 miles in length. Its ditch and towpath would require 74 lift locks, 7 dams, 11 aqueducts, and a 3,118-foot tunnel near Paw Paw. The canal reached Harpers Ferry in 1833, Hancock in 1839, and then stalled because of the tunnel and labor troubles.
The competing Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, however, which began the same day, continued without major problems. It reached Cumberland in 1842. The National Road had reached here before. The canal company had planned to keep going beyond Cumberland (its name was because it planned to get as far as the Ohio Valley) but financial problems and the railroad's success caused it to drop these plans. Finally, in 1850, the canal made it to Cumberland. It wasn't profitable until the 1870's however. In 1889, a devastating flood destroyed the canal. Bankrupted, the canal company was bought by the B&O Railroad which tried to resume the canal business. Another massive flood in 1924 killed it for good though. In 1971, the canal became the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park and is preserved forever.
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2013 photos: Equipment this year: I mostly used my Fuji XS-1 camera but, depending on the event, I also used a Nikon D7000 and Nikon D600.
Trips this year: three Civil War Trust conferences (Memphis, TN in March; Jackson, MS in May [to which I added a week to to visit sites in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee], and Richmond, VA in September) and my traditional trip out west to San Diego Comic-Con (including sites in Nevada and California this time).
Ego Strokes: Aviva Kempner used my photo of her as her author photo in Larry Ruttman's "American Jews & America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball" book.
Number of photos taken this year: just over 570,000.