Maryland’s “Gateway to the West,” Cumberland, is easy to bypass. The busy highways and railways cutting through the city give travelers glimpses of this historically important town, but few stop to explore. If your family has the chance, here are a few things you’ll want to make sure you see in this little Maryland hidden gem.
The C&O (or the Chesapeake & Ohio) Canal operated for nearly a century, a vital structure situated on the Potomac River providing towns with coal, lumber and agricultural products. The visitor’s center offers lots of historic information and a life-sized section of a canal boat, as well as a model of the Paw Paw Tunnel, a major engineering feat — a tunnel carved through more than 3,000 feet of rock in 1850.
Next door, get a glimpse at another kind of historic transportation. The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad offers excursions in vintage rail cars, including themed rides for families.
In a somewhat nondescript and unassuming park, travelers find a log cabin used by George Washington as a military command post in 1794. George Washington was actually a frequent traveler to the area that would become Cumberland during his life. The cabin’s exact role in history is debated, but Washington’s visit to Cumberland in 1794 was related to the Whiskey Rebellion, during which he was the only U.S. president to directly lead troops in the field.
The Allegany Museum celebrates the unique culture of the Allegany region, more specifically that of the isolated mountains of Maryland. Some of the museum’s highlights include fossilized mammals dating back 700,000 years; a model of Fort Cumberland; Civil War artifacts from local families; and artifacts from regional antebellum industries, such as brewing and glassmaking.
Older travelers can stop by Allegany County’s first winery, Charis Winery. The location in downtown Cumberland offers a tasting room and tours upon request.
If you don’t mind driving outside of town, you can visit 1812 Brewery, a locally owned and operated establishment set on a 190-acre family farm in Evitts Creek Valley. The brick and wood barn that houses the taproom was built in 1812.
For those seeking a nearby place to stay, Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, Pennsylvania, is only a half-hour drive away and the historic intrigue continues there. The resort is known for many things, including building one of the country’s first golf courses and one of the first indoor pools. Additionally, it’s been a favorite place to stay for presidents throughout its existence, from Thomas Jefferson to George W. Bush.