chesapeake and ohio canal, northwestern maryland

Day 57 – Maryland Panhandle Part 3

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Day 57 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

Today we started out on the Westernmost part of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in northwestern Maryland near where the last three locks that were built to divert water from the Potomac River.  The canal was mainly used to transport coal from the Allegheny Mountains to D.C. where the route ended.  While it is no longer used for commerce, residents of the area enjoy hiking, biking, and camping along the trail.

Most of the locks on the canal utilized mitre gates which swung open when the locktenders pushed on large wooden balance beams.  Some locks, however, utilized drop gates that employed a metal valve to operate the lock.  Lock houses, mostly wooden, sat adjacent each lock.  We walked from lock 74 to lock 72 where a cache was hidden in a nearby hollow stump.

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in Northwestern Maryland

On our way, we passed by a bridge to the old Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.  It was somewhat fascinating to see a railroad adjacent to a river, adjacent to a towpath, adjacent to a canal, and adjacent to a modern road…lots of ways to get to D.C.!  I wish I could have walked the entire 180 miles.

chesapeake and ohio bridge in northwestern maryland

Old National Road

Leaving Cumberland, we drove through northwestern Maryland along 40-Alt which is also known as old National Road.  The road, originally an ancient Indian footpath and later used by military, became the nation’s first road in the 1800s when the government widened the path and paved it with broken stone.  A few mileage markers and an old brick tollhouse still remain.  In addition, several inns and taverns that once catered to the pioneers in their covered wagons can be found in towns along the way.  I stopped at The Casselman Inn for lunch.

mile marker on the national road in northwestern Maryland

The Casselman Inn

The Casselman, built in the 1840s, consists of guest rooms with fireplaces originally used for heating and cooking; a kitchen added in 1903; as well as a dining room, antique shop and bake shop added in 1973.  The menu, with Amish influence is simple, yet great.  I ordered a grilled cheese on home baked bread with green beans for the whopping price of $3.26. As I savored the sandwich, the aroma of fresh baked pastries filled the restaurant.  I know this will be blasphemy to some, but it was better than Highland Park Pharmacy’s! If only they offered chocolate milk shakes too.

The Casselman Inn in northwestern maryland

The souvenir paper place mat noted a stone arch bridge across the Casselman River.  Built in 1813, it was the largest single span bridge in America at the time and supported the heavy traffic of the National Trail for 125 years.

once the largest single span bridge in America in northwestern maryland

Swallow Falls State Park

Continuing through northwestern Maryland, we reached resting place for the evening was Swallow Falls State Park.  The park, albeit very remote with limited cell service at best, is quite beautiful.  It is home to the tallest waterfall in Maryland, Muddy Creek Falls which drops 53 feet.  The 1.25 mile trail along the boulder lined Youghiogheny River passes by additional small yet picturesque falls, through the oldest hemlocks in Maryland at 300 years of age, and near large sandstone cliffs.  Not only is the area simply breathtaking, it is also historic as the likes of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and John Burroughs camped here.

I tried in earnest to get my phone to locate geocaches before we went for our walk, but I was unsuccessful in attaining a signal.  As I returned to camp, I randomly got a burst, and as expected there are several stashed in the cliffs, boulders, and fallen logs.  Perhaps I’ll walk the dogs along the same trail tomorrow, but in the opposite direction with my GPS in hand in order to locate one.  The morning light ought to make the hike even prettier than it was on this glorious afternoon. ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

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Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop.  Each card has a travel story associated with it.  20% of proceeds are donated to charity.

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

4 thoughts on “Day 57 – Maryland Panhandle Part 3

  1. I love your trip, love the pics and love hearing the history, I’m learning a lot. Be safe & keep the details coming.

  2. The Highland Park Pharmacy is still around???! I loved going there as a kid. I can totally remember grilled cheese and milkshakes!

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