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Maryland’s First Heritage Area

In 1993, Maryland created the state’s first Heritage Area- Canal Place, and established the Canal Place Preservation & Development Authority to oversee the preservation, development, and management of the Canal Place Preservation District, a designated heritage area in Cumberland around the western end of the C&O Canal.

In 2018 the Heritage Area was expanded to include historically significant districts within the cities of Cumberland and Frostburg. The enlarged Heritage Area has been appropriately renamed The Passages of the Western Potomac Heritage Area and includes sites that tell a fascinating story of early America, from the mid-1700’s through to today.

The Authority has undertaken major rehabilitation and restoration projects. Some projects are already completed, including the renovation of the historic Western Maryland Railway Station. That grand building is now home to the administrative offices of the Canal Place Authority, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, the C&O Canal National Historical Park Cumberland Visitor Center, the Allegany County Visitor Center, gift shop and several professional offices.

Renovation involved the complete rehabilitation of and replication of the dual canopies which originally graced the platform area of the Station. A third track was also laid for use as a display track, and the platform area was restored to its early 20th Century grandeur. Additional enhancements included a fountain and sculpture to the plaza in front of the Station and the extension of the brick walkway to connect with a new pedestrian bridge spanning Wills Creek. The bridge connects the Station and other areas of Canal Place with Riverside Park, site of the cabin used as George Washington’s headquarters here during the French and Indian War.

In 2000, a replica of the canal boat “The Cumberland” and a million dollar interactive National Park Service C&O Canal exhibit opened, providing entertainment and education for visitors and local residents.

In 2003, Shops at Canal Place opened with a full complement of themed retail, arts & crafts and dining tenants.

The “Trestle Walk” project connects the station area with the C&O Canal towpath. This project provides a pedestrian walkway along a former railroad trestle which will ultimately cross the re-watered canal basin and terminate in an overlook at the Potomac River. The walkway follows the perimeter of the Crescent Lawn Festival Grounds.

In 2018, the stabilization and reuse of the historic Footer Dye Works building, signage improvements, and expanded parking.

Today, Cumberland’s transportation heritage is alive at Canal Place. Visitors can ride a train, hike or bike the towpath or the Great Allegheny Passage, tour a full scale canal boat replica, learn about canal history at the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s Cumberland Visitor Center, enjoy live music and unique community festivals.

Canal Place Development Authority Board

  • Janice Keene, Chair
  • Rebecca Ruppert, Vice-Chair
  • Tina Capetta, Federal Representative
  • Albert Feldstein, Maryland Historical Trust Representative
  • Ray Morris, City of Cumberland Representative
  • Leanne Mazer
  • J. Robert Smith
  • Jeremy Bender
  • Stuart Czapski

Heritage Area Staff

Deidra Ritchie

Executive Director

Nicole Gray

Executive Assistant

Eric Harman

Financial Manager

Need Info? Drop us a line or give us a call!

Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority

Canal Place Preservation and Development Authority
Western Maryland Railway Station, Room 301
13 Canal Street, Cumberland, MD 21502
Telephone: 301-724-3655
Fax: 301-724-3659
Web: passagesofthepotomac.org