Motoring in Maryland
National Road an Object Lesson of Able Highway Policy--Many Auto Camp Sites
By T. C. CARRINGTON.
President Harding's recent selection of the National Road for his motor trip from Gettysburg to Marion, in preference to other more direct routes, has renewed the interest of motorists in that famous continental highway, the oldest of all through roads and the most replete with scenic beauty and historic associations.
Owing to the perfect construction of the National Road from Baltimore to the western end of Maryland and the excellent condition in which it is maintained, that section of the road is one of the best known and most traveled highways in the United States. The distance from either Baltimore or Washington to Pittsburgh and Wheeling is 268 miles: the entire run can be made in twelve hours, but those unused to mountain driving, or who pause to admire the beautiful scenery, take from fifteen to sixteen hours. It is the popular route for tourists from the West and Northwest to and from Florida. The road winds for hundreds of miles over majestic mountains and gentle hills, and through happy valleys offering rare and glorious views.
Travel over the National Road has been made peculiarly attractive this summer by establishment of comfortable camping grounds at various points in Maryland. There are eight of these camps; going west from Baltimore; they are in the following order: Elk-ridge Farm, one and a half miles west of Ellicott City; Cooksville, Frederick, Conococheague, west of Hagerstown, Hancock, Bellgrove, Frostburg and Negro Mountain. All are supplied with the usual conveniences for tourists, the most elaborate being at Frostburg.
Frostburg is eleven miles west of Cumberland and is built on a plateau 2,250 feet high in the heart of the Alleghany Mountains. It is called, the Roof Garden of Maryland. The camp at this place is in a well shaded park with lofty mountains rising on all sides. It is equipped with electric lights, running water, modern toilets, and a kitchen where natural gas and hot plates are supplied for cooking. Nearby is a large swimming pool which is free to tourists. The camp was established jointly by the Maryland State Roads Commission and the Frostburg Commercial Club. Tourists are warned to carry plenty of blankets when visiting this section as the average summer temperature is 61 degrees.
A Picturesque Region.
In this part of Maryland is also found some of the finest mountain scenery in the United States, all accessible by good roads. From Dan's Rock, six miles from Frostburg. with an elevation of 2,900 feet, may be seen the states of Maryland. Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, with the Potomac in the foreground.
A writer in the Scientific American recently said that Maryland had the-best completed road system, California being placed second. A large part of the credit is due to John N. Mackall, chairman and chief engineer of the Maryland State Roads Commission.
State roads in Maryland have a width of 24 feet with a metal surface of 15 feet, to which is usually added five foot shoulders. The Road Commission is now building five-foot concrete shoulders on each side of the National Road between Frederick and Baltimore, later this work will be extended the entire length. Statistics show that last year the greater number of accidents occurred not on the steep mountain grades but on the comparatively level stretches from Frederick east. The addition of these five foot shoulders is expected to reduce these accidents. Where the National Road winds over the mountains in Western Maryland the commission is spending about $75,000 in banking and widening curves.
This summer the commission has also placed markers at all horizontal and vertical curves on the National Road. These markers are lines put on with specially prepared paint and so drawn around and over curves in the road that the place of the car is clearly indicated to the driver either on the right or left side of the highway. They are of great protection to drivers where vertical curves prevent observation of cars coming over steep grades. At the summit of all mountains are signs giving the name of the mountain and its elevation, also detailed Instruction to chauffeurs regarding mountain driving.
For several years Maryland has spent more than $2,000,000 annually on the maintenance of state roads.
Road Started in 1805.
The National Road has the distinction of being the only highway any part of which was built by the Federal Government. In 1805 Congress passed an act "regulating the laying out and making a road from Cumberland in the State of Maryland to the State of Ohio." In July of the lame year President Jefferson authorized beginning of construction and named three commissioners to direct the work. The original National Road extended only from Cumberland to Wheeling. It was soon connected with the older road from Hagerstown to Baltimore, and subsequently with the newer road from Wheeling through Columbus, Ohio, to St. Louis and then over the Old Trails Road to the Pacific Coast. To George Washington is due the original conception of the road, two trips he made as a young man from Virginia to Fort Dequesne showing him the necessity for a through artery of trade and travel east and west.
After leaving Baltimore the tourist soon encounters battlefields and places reminiscent of Civil War history. At Frederick is the site of Barbara Frietchie's house. At Hancock the first real mountains are encountered and for forty miles the road winds over high ridges.
At and beyond Cumberland the tourist enters the country explored twice by Washington in his youth. The first expedition resulted in his defeat at Fort Necessity on July 4, 1754; a tablet by the side of the National Road beyond Somerfield, Pa., marks the field. The second venture was the ill-fated expedition when Washington accompanied General Braddock. Braddock's grave is marked by a monument close to the national Road near Uniontown.
T.C. Carrington was the Secretary, Frostburg Commercial Club. This article was also published in the New York Times, July 23, 1922, in the Special Features, Page 89.
Allegany College of Maryland
Cumberland (Md.) press coverage; Cumberland (Md.) Chamber of Commerce
Cumberland (Md.), 1920-1930