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An Uncommon Passage

An Uncommon Passage: Traveling through History on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail

Edited by Edwrd K. Muller
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    An Uncommon Passage
    Book Description:

    The Great Allegheny Passage Trail forms a hiking and biking route stretching approximately 150 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cumberland, Maryland, where it connects with the C&O Canal Towpath to reach Washington, DC. The trail is the culmination of many years of work by the Allegheny Trail Alliance, which joined seven separate trail organizations from Pennsylvania and Maryland to acquire and develop the land. Formerly an Indian path, trade route, military road, railway link, and part of the original National Road-the trail is truly a path to American history.An Uncommon Passageguides readers through the fascinating story of this trail, as a critical link in the western expansion of colonial America, and a pathway to the development of the Southwestern Pennsylvania region. The book explores the British outposts and forts, early settlers and frontier life, developing towns and cities, rise and predominance of industry, later environmentalism and preservation, natural resources, rivers, flora and geological features that comprise the trail and its environs.The engaging narrative is complemented by an extensive selection of historical illustrations and the contemporary photography of Paul g. Wiegman, all of which reveal the stunning scenery and pictorial history of the region.An Uncommon Passageoffers a journey through both time and space to capture the heritage and surroundings of a region that would grow to prosper and help build a nation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7754-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. AN UNCOMMON PASSAGE: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    To bike along the Great Allegheny Passage trail from Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is to journey through both time and space. The trail follows a historic route through the Allegheny Mountains, connecting the Potomac River watershed and the middle Atlantic coast to the Ohio River watershed and the nation’s vast, midwestern interior. Native Americans, colonial armies, frontier trappers and traders, settlers, and railroads used this topographically dramatic and difficult corridor created by the valleys of Wills and Jennings creeks and of the Casselman, Youghiogheny, and Monongahela rivers. With careful observation and some informed imagination, today’s biking enthusiasts can envision...

  2. THE LIVING PASSAGE: Flora, Fauna, and the Natural Environment
    (pp. 21-74)

    In all the effortless grandeur that is evident in the forests, wildflowers, wild rivers, and scenic views along the Great Allegheny Passage, you as the visitor will need to stop occasionally and listen to the ancient story that the rocks have to tell.

    The foundation geology of the region through which the Great Allegheny Passage passes provides the setting. The water sculpted the raw stone, and the rivers cut the path for the trail to follow. Water and gravity collectively carved a sometimes gentle, sometimes abrupt corridor through mountains and deep into plateaus, a course that would be followed first...

  3. “THE BEST PASSAGE THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS”: Braddock’s Road in the War for Empire, 1752–1758
    (pp. 75-114)

    The origin of the celebrated Braddock’s Road, which linked the Potomac and Ohio river watersheds to become a vital part of the future Great Allegheny Passage, can be traced to a decision made by a Virginia land speculation company in 1752. At that time, an overland route was planned through the Allegheny Mountains to the Ohio River Valley to increase trade with the indigenous peoples and effect colonization. The British, represented by the Virginians, used the trading path for an unsuccessful diplomatic mission to the French in northwestern Pennsylvania in 1753. As a primitive military road, it enabled Virginian and...

  4. MIGRATION ON THE PASSAGE: Western Settlement, 1763–1840
    (pp. 115-154)

    To bike or walk the Great Allegheny Passage is to follow a path similar to that which thousands crossed almost two centuries ago. At the conclusion of the French and Indian War, however, the routes that now make up the Passage sat idle.

    When the British finally prevailed over France in 1763, Parliament proclaimed that it had no intention of allowing American colonists into England’s newly won territory west of the Allegheny Mountains. Protracted war with France had bankrupted the English treasury, making it impossible to finance military protection for frontier settlements. Moreover, it would have been logistically difficult for...

  5. A PASSAGE TO COMMERCE: The Industrial Revolution, 1860–1920
    (pp. 155-200)

    The waves of commerce and industry that transformed America into an industrial power can be seen today along the Great Allegheny Passage. The route begins at the terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal in Cumberland, Maryland, in a sense a marker of the end of the canal era, and journeys into the heart of the age of coal, iron, and steel—western Maryland and southwestern Pennsylvania—passing through a landscape that is often still as wild and beautiful as it was in the early nineteenth century. This passage from pastoral America into the terrain of coal mining and...

  6. THE SPIRIT OF THE PASSAGE: Where Past and Future Meet
    (pp. 201-244)

    The Great Allegheny Passage traverses a territory alive with tourists and tourist attractions, which share the stage with ghosts of the past and the remnant bits of historic landscape that have survived to recall a time when things were different. Youghiogheny touchstones bear witness to the opening skirmishes of the Seven Years’ War, the canals and railroads that conquered the Alleghenies, the timber and coal used to trade natural beauty for jobs and development, and the ever-present tourists who first rode the rails to this mountain paradise and now come by the carload to create a new reality tied to...

    (pp. 245-274)

    On May 21, 1975, a small train rolled out of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad Station in Pittsburgh. At the head was a yellow, red, and blue locomotive, #6600, with the image of a sleeping kitten painted on the side. It belonged to the recently formed Chessie System, under which the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Railway, the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railway, and the Western Maryland (WM) Railway had been consolidated in 1973. The Chessie car was followed by a gleaming, stainless steel Amtrak Silver Dome, #9401, and a vintage blue, white, red, and silver Western Maryland coach, #1700....