Beginning in the early 1800’s, Allegany County served as a vital hub for the coal and other industries as well as the staging and outfitting point for westward migration. Where the C&O Canal, the Western Potomac, major roads and railroads converged, the western region of America connected to the Eastern Seaboard. The very first portion of the National Road, the first federally funded highway that stretched through Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, began construction here in 1811 and eventually became known as “The Road that Built a Nation.”
At the same time, a budding railway system began to take shape here in the very nascent days of canal and railroad transportation. The story of this area’s role in the history of the railroad is legendary, if still somewhat unknown. While the early railroad mainly transported coal and occasional passengers, another major passageway transported people in a different way: below ground, the original Fort Cumberland tunnels provided refuge and escape for slaves on their journey towards freedom just across the Mason Dixon line a few miles away.
These stories, and others, await you in the PASSAGES OF THE WESTERN POTOMAC HERITAGE AREA.
While we work to build this website please visit Allegany County Tourism for more information.