Mile Marker 127.4 Round Top Cement Mill
When the C&O Canal was being dug in 1837, argillomagenisian limestone, a material well-suited for hydraulic cement, was discovered. George Shafer, who produced cement upstream, opened a cement mill in 1838 at the foot of Roundtop Hill. The mill provided cement for the remaining 60 miles of canal heading west to Cumberland. This mill even supplied cement for the Washington Monument, the Cabin John Bridge, and the U.S. Capitol. In 1863, the mill was sold and renamed the Round Top Hydraulic Cement Company. It quickly became one of Washington County’s most profitable businesses, providing jobs for 100 people during the Civil War. The mill was eventually put out of business by Portland cement, which was stronger and took longer to harden. The cement mill burnt and was rebuilt three times during its operation, including a fire in 1903 that greatly reduced the operation. Today the ruins of the mill and eight kilns, once powered by coal shipped downstream via canal boat, remain.
Mile Marker 154.7 Lock 65: The Missing Lock
Have you heard of the “missing lock?” Lock No. 65 or the “missing lock” was never really missing at all, only eliminated from the construction plans by the canal company. Learn the full story!
Mile Marker 155.0 Paw Paw Tunnel
It took 12 years and nearly all of the Canal Company’s funds to complete the Paw Paw Tunnel, but it opened to traffic on October 10, 1850. The tunnel was built to save five miles of construction by cutting across a neck of land formed by the Paw Paw bends. What resulted was the most notable landmark on the Canal—at three-fifths of a mile and 5,800,000 bricks in all.
Mile Marker 166.7 Michael Cresap House
Built in 1762, Thomas Cresap with his 20-year-old son Michael built this house. Michael died 13 years later, but Thomas lived into his nineties. The house is one of the only remnants of the frontier the Cresap family built in Oldtown. Reverend John Jacobs, who married Michael Cresap’s widow, built the brick addition in 1871.
Mile Marker 166.7 Thomas Cresap Gravesite and Ginevan House
For many years the grave of famous frontiersman Thomas Cresap sat unmarked and nearly forgotten. English-born Cresap, who was known in colonial Maryland as an Indian trader, a land speculator, a farmer and a soldier, died in 1787 and was buried here, overlooking Lock 70. Livestock grazed over the unkempt grave and Cresap’s headstone was knocked over. In 1939, someone moved the headstone to the Oldtown Methodist Church cemetery, a mile away. For the next 60 years Cresap’s grave remained unmarked in the middle of a cow pasture. During this time the land was owned by the Ginevan family, who built a Victorian home on the land, which remains today. In the 1990’s historians, descendents and the National Park Service were able to return Cresap’s headstone to its rightful place. Also on this site, the Ginevan family built an impressive brick Victorian home in 1878 that remains today.
Mile Marker 166.7 Oldtown
Oldtown’s history dates back thousands of years to early Native American settlements in the area. Five of their trails passed through Oldtown; in fact, the town’s original name was Shawnee Oldtown. In the early 1740s, frontiersman Thomas Cresap established a fort near the Potomac River. His son, Michael, was the first white male born in Allegany County. Today, one of the oldest structures in Allegany County is the 1764 Michael Cresap House. George Washington crossed the Potomac here in 1748 when he was in his teens, working on a survey mission. The low water crossing of the Potomac River at Oldtown made it a popular spot for troops to cross during the French and Indian War and again later during the Civil War. Several Civil War incidents at Oldtown affected the canal and the B&O Railroad. In August of 1864, after burning Chambersburg and occupying Hancock, Confederate troops threatened Cumberland. Union forces amassed an unsuccessful attempt to trap Brigadier John McCausland’s Confederate raiders behind Union lines in the Battle of Oldtown on August 2.
Mile Marker 184.5 Terminus
Cumberland, established as a town in 1787, was once the second largest city in Maryland. During the Industrial Revolution the mountains of the Cumberland region provided coal, iron ore and timber, which turned the city into a key manufacturing center. Other industries took off as well, like glass, breweries, fabrics, and tinplates. Prior to the arrival of the railroad and the canal, the National Road brought travelers to Cumberland. The railroad made it to Cumberland in 1842, followed by the canal in 1850. At that time, use of the National Road began to decline. The last stagecoach line stopped operating in 1853. During much of the Civil War, Union General Benjamin Kelley’s troops, headquartered in Cumberland, were responsible for protecting the B&O Railroad and the canal. Following World War II, industry in Cumberland began to decline, as did the population. Today, Cumberland is a member of the Canal Towns Partnership and features a variety of shopping and history for tourists to discover.
Mile Marker 184.5 Canal Boat Replica
Visitors can tour “The Cumberland,” a full-sized replica canal boat constructed in 1976. Guides in period clothing interpret the history of the canal and daily life aboard a canal boat. Visitors can also tour the mule shed, hay house and furnished Captain’s cabin. Visit the Park’s website for more information and hours.