Monthly Archives: January 2012

Mile 0 – Cumberland, Md.

The Western Maryland city of Cumberland, Md. (pop. ~20,000), is the the start of the National Road (as most road enthusiasts know). The city’s 200+ year history makes it interestingly fascinating, especially for history buffs. Three of the more important transportation links in America’s history all converge here: the National Road, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio (now CSX) Railroad. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Cumberland was, for a time, the second-largest city in Maryland, and was a main export point for coal from the mines of Maryland and West Virginia. By the mid-20th Century, numerous factories dotted the city, ranging from the Celenese Chemical pant to the home of the Kelly-Springfield Tire Corporation.

Now, the factories are gone, and the city has over half the population is had at its peak, but within the last 10 years, positive signs are emerging. Continued work on revitalizing the downtown area is successful, and though the city lost population between 2000 and 2010, it wasn’t anywhere near older rates of population decline. At the same time, Cumberland continues to improve its downtown area, which has been branded as “Town Centre,” and is centered around Baltimore Street, which has been converted into a pedestrian mall. Specialty shops and local restaurants line Baltimore, Liberty, Centre and Mechanic Streets, giving life to the downtown area.

Closer to the bridge that carries I-68 through downtown is the Western Maryland railroad station, which hold a deli, the offices for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and the C&O Canal National Historic Park visitor center. And to top off downtown, a smaller shopping area, Canal Place, houses a few attractions, notably a restaurant and a bike shop for users of the C&O Canal towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail.

I’ll mention Cumberland’s attractions in detail in later posts, since each deserves more than just a brief statement.

Itinerary idea:

Breakfast: Grab a donut or croissant at M&M Bakery, 80 Baltimore St. This bakery has been locally-owned and operated for decades, and makes fresh baked goods every day.

Morning: But to give just a quick suggestion for an itinerary, start your day at the C&O Canal visitor center, which, in addition to housing interactive exhibits on the canal, also provides a wealth of tourist information. Consider taking a walk along Washington Street, past historic churches and homes, one of which, the Gordon-Roberts House, is open to the public as a museum.

Lunch: Coney Island Wieners, 15 N. Liberty St. Coney Island has been around since the early 1900s, and continues to be a Cumberland tradition. Ask for your hot dog “with the sauce,” which is never regrettable.

Afternoon: Explore the shops downtown, which range from antiques to an independent bookstore.

Dinner: Crabby Pig at Canal Place, 13 Canal St. Try one of their specialties – Maryland crabcakes.

Lodging: Holiday Inn, 100 S. George St.; Fairfield Inn by Mariott, 21 Wineow St.

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Blogs for on the road

Below are a few blogs featured on my blogroll. Each of these sites are more establish, and feature different aspects of road travel and discovering an America hidden by the interstates…
– Trunkations is the blog of Roadside America, a website that features unique and unusual roadside attractions across the U.S. The blog also shares information about useful tools for travelers (i.e. new iPhone apps, etc.).
– The Lincoln Highway Association is one of the most-established organizations in the country that is centered around one road – the historic (and nostalgic) Lincoln Highway. This blog centers around news pertinent to the highway.
– Roadfood.com – Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats is also an older, content-rich blog, dedicated to identifying eateries across America that represent local cuisine. Hundreds of restaurants are on this site, even in places that are more off the beaten path.
– RoadsideOnline is similar to Roadfood, except that RoadsideOnline seeks a specific establishment – the classic American diner.
– Road Trip Memories chronicles a woman’s path to discovering the stories and culture along two-lane roads in the U.S.
– Road Trips for Beer follows the authors as they explore the smaller breweries in the U.S., many of which are embedded  in towns and cities across the country.
– Jim Grey’s “Down the Road” blog records road enthusiast Jim Grey’s exploration of older, historic roads in the Midwest, one of which is that National Road in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
– America’s Byways features constant updates from the America’s Byways program, an organization dedicated to preserving historic routes across the United States.
– The Mountain Laurel Chamber of Commerce frequently updates readers on events and attractions in the “Mountain Laurel” region, centered in Fayette County, Pa. The National Road slices right through that area.
– Like the Lincoln Highway Association, the National Historic Route 66 Federation has been around for many years, and, of course, is dedicated to promoting the history of U.S. Route 66. It’s blog features photos and information dealing with the “Mother Road.”
– On The Road is the official blog of AARoads.com, a roughly decade-old website that essentially documents all types of roads across the country, from the old auto trails to the interstate highways.
– Preservation in Pink provides a great source of up-to-date information on historic preservation in America.
– Brian Butko’s Lincoln Highway News follows news and updates from across the Lincoln Highway – a good resource for anyone looking for info on current events along the L.H.

Buckle up!

Over the next few months, we’ll be traveling from east to west along the over 100 miles of U.S. Route 40 in Maryland and Pennsylvania, checking out what there is to see and do in the cities and towns along the road. The first goal of this blog is to provide a resource for both local and non-local travelers of attractions along the road. For those who travel the highway every day, this may mean discovering something in your own backyard, and for those from out of the area, this may mean finding something to see during the journey.

Appalachia has long been one of the most overlooked regions of the country. Few travel literature exists about this region, especially when compared with other regions. As the region is being “discovered” by outsiders for its natural and man-made recreation opportunities, a need for travel resources in the region is needed. Hence goal No. 2  of this blog: to provide a piece in travel literature for the Appalachian region.