“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Cumberland in Allegany County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

The Narrows

An Easier Route for the National Road

The Narrows Marker image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck, October 20, 2007
1. The Narrows Marker
Inscription. At first, the National Road climbed west from Cumberland up and over Haystack Mountain. In the 1830s, when the road was rebuilt, a new route was chosen. It would be a mile longer but the grade was substantially decreased so that horse teams could pull twice the weight. The new route took advantage of the Narrows, a natural gorge cut by Wills Creek between Haystack Mountain and Wills Mountain.

Traffic along the National Road grew rapidly when the new route was completed in 1834 and a new bridge opened in 1836. When the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad reached Cumberland in 1842, National Road travel to and from the west increased even more. The region prospered.

Railroad tracks were soon laid through the Narrows. Two short line railroads connected Cumberland to the growing Georges Creek Valley coal region. Ultimately, travel by rail eclipsed that of the National Road, and traffic declined substantially in the years that followed. The invention of the automobile brought a revival to the old road as motorists enjoyed sightseeing in the Narrows.

(Sidebar): The Legend of Lovers’ Leap
There is a local legend about the cliffs above the Narrows. When a young Indian princess and her lover were forbidden to marry, they leapt to their death from the cliff.
Erected by
The Narrows of Wills Creek, as seen from the marker image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck
2. The Narrows of Wills Creek, as seen from the marker
America's Byways.
Marker series. This marker is included in the The Historic National Road marker series.
Location. 39° 39.776′ N, 78° 46.862′ W. Marker is in Cumberland, Maryland, in Allegany County. Marker is on National Highway (U.S. 40), on the right when traveling north. Click for map. This is Wayside 45 on the Historic National Road in Maryland. Marker is at or near this postal address: 10307 National Highway, Cumberland MD 21502, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. “The Narrows” (here, next to this marker); Site of Bridge 1834 (a few steps from this marker); The First Iron Rails (approx. ¾ mile away); "Braddock's Road" (approx. one mile away); Headquarters of George Washington (approx. 1.1 miles away); Allegany County Library (approx. 1.1 miles away); Allegany County (approx. 1.1 miles away); The Parade Ground of Fort Cumberland (approx. 1.1 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Cumberland.
More about this marker. In the lower center is a reproduction of an old postcard showing, "The mountains rise over 800 feet here, on either side of Wills Creek, forming spectacular views of valleys to the east and west." In the side bar is another postcard showing Lovers' Leap. The background of the marker is "National Road at Fairview Inn" which is the standard for markers in this series. An elevation diagram of the national road is displayed on the bottom of the marker's face.
Also see . . .  The Narrows. (PDF) Copy of the marker. (Submitted on January 23, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
Categories. Roads & Vehicles
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. This page has been viewed 1,211 times since then and 58 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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