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Full text of "Cumberland as the gateway to the west : 1875 to date / prepared by F.R. Lininger."

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Prepared "by F. R. LIniger as part of his 
initiation to Beta Chapter of 
Tau Beta Pi 





From 1875 to 1876 Cumberland felt the effects of the 
panic of 1873, and. suffered the worst depression of its 
history, from which it did not fully recover until 1891 
when it took on a new spirit of progress. This spirit was 
due to the continually increasing traffic through the city. 
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the Cumberland Road, (later 
to be part of the National Highway) , and the Chesapeake and 
Ohio canal poured endless streams of traffic and freight on 
its it into Cumberland, Early in 1900 two more rail- 
roads, the Western Maryland, and the Pennsylvania entered 
Cumberland, With the development of the automobile, the 
National Highway again became one of the greatest routes to 
the './est, and more than made up for the slack, (and later) 
cessation of operations on the canal, 

No community could stand by and watch all this wealth 
pass through it, Cumberland has not. Today it is the second 
largest city of the state of Maryland, in which millions of 
dollars have been invested in industries of almost all types. 
It has the Commission form of government and is sound 
financially, as well as being progressive and modern, It is 
a city that has taken great pride and advantage of its very 
fitting title; "The Gateway to the West" . 



Cumberland, the Queen City of Maryland, the Gateway 
to the '.Vest, by the year 1875 had. ceased to he fartherest 
western terminal of any railway. In this year the Baltimore 
and Ohio railroad had succeeded in extending its tracks as 
far as Sun dusky and Chicago. Also about this time, and for 
the first time since its completion, activities on the 
Chesapeake and Ohio canal began to lag. This lagging was 
due to the effects of the great national panic of a few years 
before. But by this time Cumberland had ceased to depend 
entirely upon the railroad, canal, and turnpike. Cumberland 
was already established as a permanent city with a population 
of about 12,000 souls. Even though the decrease in traffic 
along the turnpike fell off to practically nothing, causing 
the closing of rr.ost of the taverns and throwing not a small 
number of persons out of jobs, the city was not long in re- 
adjusting itself to the new circumstances. Because of its 
ideal location at the east side of the "Narrows", Cumberland 
became the perfect distribution point for the surroundir 
country, as well connecting point between the east and 
the west. Finished goods were brought to Cumberland from the 
east by railway and canal. Raw goods were brought into 
Cumberland from the surrounding country, and from here these 
goods were shipped into the east. Practically all westward 
traffic passed through this city. These are the prevailing 
conditions at Cumberland at the beginning of the time of this 
thesi . 

— 0_ 


The first serious blow to cripple the traffic along 
the Chesapeake and. Ohio canal came in the year 1077 when it 
was partially destroyed by a disastrous flood of the Potomac 
River. But immediate steps were talc en to ramedy the damages* 

In 1878 bonis garanteed by the state of Maryland were 
issued by the canal company to obtain funds for rehab it at ing 
the \raterway, and in a few months it was Ln a scene of 
much activity. But the growth of the Baltimore and Ohio 
Rail Road and the shorter tine required in making deliveries 
to the East by the swifter going trains, was gradually diverting 
the carrying of coal from the canal to the railroad. However, 
transportation by the canal was cheaper and it always received 

ficient freight to keep some boats moving in the busy 
season, and it never ceased work entirely until after the 
disatrous flood of May 31, 1889 when its banks were so 
destroyed that boating was abandoned for two years. Then 
ion for the sale of the canal was begun. 

The Baltir ore and Ohio Railroad had become the' chief 
possessor of canal securities, and this Railroad did not 

sire to see the canal pass into the hands of some other 
Railroad. Consequently the Baltimore and Ohio used its 
influences and had receivers applied for. The canal property 
passed into the hands of these receivers, who again repaired 
the canal and put it into operation in 1893, Since then the 
canal, a great factor in the establishing of Cumberland, 
continued to carry coal almost every season up until the early 

part of 1924 when the canal was completely put ov.t of 
commission by two great flood' . 

us ended the Chesa,; and Ohio oa 1. A water 

that had joined the" to the West "to the sea. A 

which had "been a factor in the establishment of 
Cumberland, and for a long time a large source of busine 




The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad by 1875 had already 
expanded westward as 8 Chicago, but still Cumberland 
renained the most important point along this Railroad, At 
Cumberland shops and a large rolling mill had been established. 
All traffic to the West on this Railway had to pass through 
Cumberland, likewise all traffic to the East had to pass 
through this point. It is needless to say that this flow of 
traffic was a prime factor to the welfare and progress of 
Cumberland, as well as giving it the renown of being one of 
the greatest gateways to the YJest, 

During the nineties this railroad began casting about 
for a more southern route to the West, and finally decided 

>n branching its line at Cumberland, By following the 
banks of the Potomac "aver '.Test from Cumberland the desired 
route was obtained. This branch passes through Cincinnati to 
St. Louis, Missouri which ■ icle its fartherest western 
t erm inal , and is still, 

Needless to say all this extension of the Baltimore 
and Ohio Railroad increased considerably the flow of traffic 
through Cumberland, and has materially aided in keeping that 
city one of the most important gateways to the V.'est, The 
importance of this city to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad is 
very well expressed by W.B.Calloway, Passenger Traffic 
or, who states the following: 

"Cumberl s lways been recognized as the great 
dividing and junction point on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, 
It is there that our main line from the East divides into t 

Ln stems, on extending northwestward to Pittsburgh and 
Chi , and the other operating in a southwestern direction 
to Cincinnati and St, Louis, Cumberland is 1:1 in 
important operating center for our company, it being the 
location of our division headquarters and large machine shops, 
both passenger and freight offices there". 

The Pennsylvania Kail road early in 1900 realizing the 
value of Cumberland as a shipping point to the '//est, con- 
structed a branch line from that city through the Narrows to 
Altoona, Pennsylvania where it connected with its main line 
to th .. rest. 

These two Railroads having realized the advantageous 
position of Cumberland have and still are, profited by 
their selection of Cumberland as a distribution point to the 
If est. 

Two other Railroads also have selected Cumberland as 
an important point on their lines. These two roads are 
namely; Western Maryland Railroad and the Cumberland and 
Pennsylvania Railroad, The Western Maryland extends far into 
the coal fields with Cumberland and other points in the East, 
The Cumberland an Pennsylvania Railroad runs from Cumberland 
through the best coal fields of the e into Piedmo; 
iYest Virginia, Cumberland to this Railroad is a very 
important transfer point and terminal. 

If one doubts the title "The Gateway to The West" as 
fitting Cumberland, Then just journey to that fair city and 
! :ch the activity of these above mentioned Railroads at that 


point, and I am sure such doubts will soon dissappear. 









Hagerstown, Sid. -. 64 

Frederick, Md . 89 

Baltimore, Sid 135 

Wilmington, Del -1 1 

Atlantic City, N. J 278 

Philadelphia, Fa 230 

New York City 3.1") 

Chamhersbui'g, Pa 87 

Carlisle, Pa. 110 

Harrtsburgr, Pa 137 

leading. Pa , 101 

Gettysburg, Pa OS 

York, Pa. 127 

Lancaster, Pa 1,11 

Washington, D. C 110 

Fredericksburg, Ya. 20" 

Richmond, Va 273 

Norfolk, Y;i 873 

Martinsburg, W. Va 81 

Winchester, Va 106 

Harrisonburg, Va 175 

Staunton, Y'n 200 

Roanoke, Va 200 

tte Snlphur Springs, Va. ... 300 

Uniontown, P;j 63 

Washington, Pa 99 

Wheeling, W. Va 132 

Columbus, Ohio 259 

Indianapolis, Ind. 433 

Chicago, 111 658 

Greensburg, Pa 100 

Pittsburgh, Pa. 

via Fayette City, Pa 125 

via Greensburg, Pa. ...... 132 

Cleveland, Ohio 271 

Storgantown. YV. Y'a 01 

Fa Irmont, YV. Y'a 100 

Clarksburg, W. Y'a 133 

Parkersburg, W. Y'a 218 

Bedford, Pa 31 

Altoona, Pa fio 

Johnstown, Pa 86 

KKYSERS RIDGD, on' National 
Highway, 80 miles west of Cumber- 
land, elevation 2900 feet— His;!: 
point east of the Mississippi Kiver 
— on the National Highway. 

From 1875 until 1910 the traffic on this famous old road 
7/as almost insignificant in comparison with v/hat it had "been in 
former days. But with the invention and rapid development of the 
automobile, traffic on this famous turnpike began to pick up. 
So in 1910 the State of Maryland tookover the control of this 
high .long with all others in the state. Since then it has 
not known what an idle day means. Constant improvements by 
the state have made this hi :; the be t road of the state, 


■and befitting a part of the great National Hj ay which is 

acknowledged to fie the best road and most beautiful scenic 

route in the United States . 

A fair idea of the amount of traffic passing through 

Cumberland to the '.Vest can be obtained from the following 

traffic cheek taken for that city's Chamber of Commerce by the 

Boy Scouts of Cumberland Troop 3, 

On Monday, August 23, 1927, between the hours of 

7:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M. a check of traffic on all roads into 

Cumberland was taken. This check showed a total of 5028 cars 

from all but three states of the Union, and inclu ;in:; three 

foreign licensed e i . Omitting Maryland cars from this total 

leaves 1926 car-:.. On " rational Highway alone there were 

3055 c 1 eh is more than half of the total. Omitting 

Maryland ears from this leaves 1559 foreign cars, indicating 

that practically all out of state cars use the National 

Highway from Cumberland to the West, 

The real importance of these figures may best be set off 

by a comparison of a similar check, for the same aid time 

of traffic on the Lincoln II' :.' at Bedford. Here the check 

gave a grand total of all cars of 2557, of which 1805 'were 

Pennsylvanian cars, and two of foreign license. On the Linco 

alone there were 1888 cars as compared to 5 on the 

tional y, and omitting Pennsylvania cars, the Lincoln 

Hig3 showed only 614 cars, against 1559 for the National 

Highway with Maryland eras omitted, 

Such a comparison goes far in proving the popularity 
of the National ' ay to the West, which also means that 


this traffic passes through Cumberland, thus helping to 
maintain that city's title of "The Gateway to the Wes 

Besides this traffic there are four large bus lines 
running through Cumberland to the '.Vest, These lines are 
namely: The Kevin Bus lines, The Blue Ridge Transportation 
Company, The Cumberland and Y/esternport Bus line, and The 
fountain Stages Bus Bine. The selection of the ITational 

•y by these companies i .tes that the; 1 consider this 

s a desirous route west through Cumberland. 




The progress of Cum Deri and has attracted many industries. 
One of the first to recognize the possibilities of Cumberland was 
the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and immediately took as an 
industrial location, advantage of the same, by establishing a 
rolling mill there. The history of this mill represents no 
small part of the history of Cumberland itself. 

Early in the seventies the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 
constructed a rolling mill at Cumberland, to produce rails 
for the westward extension of the Railroad. This rolling mill 
employed e a few of the men of Cumberland, steady until 
the beginning of the year 1876 at which time it closed down 
entirely, iue to the effects of the panic of 1873 on the entire 
country. But in 1878 there was a partial resumption of work 
at the rolling mill, and in the spring of 1879 the mill again 
resumed in full and continued working with only temporary stops 
for several years. But the rolling mill became a very uncertain 
industry because of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad changing 
its industrial policy and instead of operating mills and 
making its own rails, began buying them from other manufacturers. 
As a final result of this change in policy the rolling mill 
closed permanently, as far as the Baltimore and Ohio was 
concerned, in 1888. After being leased to several other 
companies, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad equipped the mill for 
reciaimation work about 1908, Since then this plant has been 
turning out more than a million pieces a month of reclaimed 
material, in the form of bar iron, nuts, bolts, etc. 


Today the larger industries of Cumberland are as 
follows: Kelly Springfield Tire Company ($15,000,000 plant), 
American Cellulose and Chemical Manufacturing Company 
($3,000,000 plant), Baltimore and Ohio, and Western Maryland 
Railroad shops, N. and C. Taylor Company, Tin Plate Manufacturers, 
Foster's Dye Works (largest in the United States), five 
glass works, two si lie mills, four bride works, two hollow tile 
works, three flour mills, one steel shafting works, six 
lumber Manufacturing mills, etc. 

The progress of Cumberland from 1875 to 1890 either 
in population or wealth was not significant. There were few 
changes in streets buildings or the general appearance of the 
city, and the increase in population was only 700, 

But with the beginning of the nineties a new spirit 
seemed to take hold of the city, New plots of building lots 
were laid out in the southern and northern sections of the 
city, and enterprising young business men be~an a developement 
of local resources that put new life and hope into the 
population. In 1890 the Cumberland Electric Railway was 
organized, and put into service on the 4th of July, 1891, and 
at first was unable to handle all the traffic. At no time 
has there been any doubts as to the permanency of this company, 
and is still operating under the ownership of the Potomac- 
Edison Company, which company also operates buses, and will 
no doubt in the near future entirely replace the railway with 

From 1890 until 1900 the population increased over 


5000 bringing the total to 17,128, which was the largest per 
oent gain in any ten years of its history. This was largely 
due to the development of the south Cumberland following the 
action of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in making this 
point a terminal for two stems of its road which 

necessitated the building of an immense round house, repair 
shops, and yard. This construction of the Baltimore aid Ohio 
re employment to a great bulk of the population. 

Since 1900 the population of the city has been steadily 
increasing, and at present, Including the outlying districts 
about to be annexed, its population is estimated at over 
42,000 persons, mailing it the second city in size in the state 
of Maryland, The city has very modern and efficient water, 
and sewerage systems, a paid motorized fire department, a 
$300,000 City Hall, and has Commission form of government. 
It is a modern city in every way. 




Cumberland, because of its location at the eastern 
entrance to the Harrows, one of the earliest pass or; over t3ie 
Alleghanies, has been properly titled. "The Gateway to the 

Through this city all traffic to the West on either 
the National Highway or the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad must 
pass, and it has been due to this traffic that Cumberland 
has thrived and because of never ending flow of traffic the 
city will continue to progress but because of its rather 
cramped location it is doubtful if it will ever become large 

>ugh to rival the larger American cities in size or 
population. Still it is ogressive city, and r.odern in 
every way as is befitting a city that has been for almost two 
centuries, and still is; "The G-ateway to th t". 



History of Allegany County, Maryland — 

By James W, Thomas, L.L.D. 
Jud^e T. J. C. "Jilliams 

History of Cumberland -- 

By W. H, Lowennilk 
The Story of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ( 'hid vol.) 

By Hun^erford 
Pas server Traffic Manager of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 

By '.V. B. Calloway 
History of Cumberland — 

By Cumberland Daily Hews. 
Cumberland Chamber of Coram srce