Near Hancock in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Challenge of Sideling Hill
The Road That Built The Nation
“Our pleasure trips usually stopped at the top of the mountain because of the hairpin turn to the right that dropped into a severely sharp curve.”
This route is an ancient one. Our traveling ancestors pushed across, around and finally through this mountain. Sideling Hill, always a steep and dangerous climb, first showed up on a 1755 map as “Side Long Hill.”
When frontiersman Thomas Cresap moved up the Potomac Valley, he hired local Indians to widen the trail over the mountain for his wagons.
During the heyday of the National Road, stagecoaches crashed and passengers were killed on the slope near Hancock.
Throughout the 1930s, the 40 miles to Cumberland on US 40 was still considered a long hard trip. “There
With construction of I-68, engineers finally tamed this 350 million-year-old ridge in the 1980s. They blasted out a 4½ mile long, 380 foot deep and 200 foot wide cut in Sideling Hill. After two years and $20 million worth of modern blasting, the first motorists drove through the cut in August, 1985.
(sidebar) As evidenced by this early 20th century advertisement, automobile trips on narrow, steep roads without guardrails, could be a dangerous business. Local historian Emily Leatherman recalled, “Rainy days were disastrous. We could watch the cars go to the doctor’s office across the street. They had slid off the road into the ditches or trees.”
(sidebar) The deepest road cut in Maryland history moved 4.5 million cubic yards of rock and dirt.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Native AmericansRoads & Vehicles • Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the The Historic National Road series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1755.
Location. 39° 43.128′ N, 78° 16.838′ W. Marker is near Hancock, Maryland, in Washington County. Marker is on the westbound Sideling Hill Visitors Center (Interstate 68 at milepost 75) west of Exit 77 (Maryland Route 144), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hancock MD 21750, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The National Road (here, next to this marker); Gettysburg Campaign (a few steps from this marker); Sideling Hill Cut South Bench (within shouting distance of this marker); Interstate 68 Maryland Vietnam Memorial (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also Gettysburg Campaign (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hancock.
Also see . . . Sideling Hill Exhibit Center. This page has an impressive arial view of the Sideling Hill road cut. (Submitted on January 20, 2007.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 29, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 20, 2007, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 15,285 times since then and 204 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 14, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on January 20, 2007, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.