Keifers in Allegany County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Breaking Through a Mountain
Methodist minister and contractor Lee Montgomery began construction in 1836, with estimates of completion in two years. Labor shortages, financial difficulties, underestimating the cost of the work, and a maze of lawsuits eventually forced Montgomery into bankruptcy. Work on the tunnel stopped. In 1850 the tunnel was finally completed, opening the canal from Georgetown to Cumberland.
Using what we would consider primitive tools, laborers dug through 3,118 feet of unstable shale. Picks and shovels, wheelbarrows, black powder, mule power, and backbreaking labor built the tunnel.
Irish laborers, British and German stonemasons, and a few other nationalities came together to build the canal and tunnel. Occasionally there were clashes between these diverse groups.
Erected by Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park - National Park Service - US Dept. of the Interior.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal marker series.
Location. Click for map. Located along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath trail, about 500 yards from the parking lot off Old Town Road. Marker is in this post office area: Oldtown MD 21555, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. West Virginia (Morgan County) / Maryland (approx. 0.9 miles away in West Virginia); Washington Heritage Trail (approx. 1.2 miles away in West Virginia); Paw Paw (approx. 1.2 miles away in West Virginia); Morgan County / Hampshire County (approx. 3.8 miles away in West Virginia); Old Town (approx. 7.7 miles away); Pinoak Fountain (approx. 7.7 miles away in West Virginia); Michael Cresap (approx. 7.9 miles away); Twin Oaks Trail (approx. 8 miles away).
More about this marker. In the center is a depiction of work on the tunnel with keyed captions:
(1) Surveyors used simple instruments to keep the digging on a true course.
(2) Blasting the unstable shale with unpredictable black-powder was dangerous business; injuries and deaths were commonplace.
(3) Two shafts were sunk in an effort to speed the work. This enabled
(4) Excavated material was dumped in the hills surrounding the tunnel.
Also see . . . Paw Paw Tunnel. Page with additional photos and history of the tunnel. (Submitted on December 4, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Categories. • Man-Made Features • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 758 times since then and 79 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.