Apr. 22—CUMBERLAND — Officials unveiled a new mile zero marker medallion Wednesday at Canal Place to identify the intersection of two nationally recognized trails in Cumberland.
The medallion was inset in the stone pathway near the mule and boy statue behind the Western Maryland Railway Station to mark the nexus of the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath.
The marble medallion reads, "By road, by river, by rail ... Cumberland, Maryland."
"These trails are incredible assets to our county," said Jake Shade, Allegany County commissioner. "It's great we have such a community with Pittsburgh at one end and Washington, D.C. at the other. A lot of people volunteered their time to promote the trail and we thank them. We had a 52% increase in trail usage in 2020 and that was incredible."
Shade said there was no taxpayer money used in creating the medallion. It was funded privately by the Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy.
Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, administrator, said the medallion in Cumberland is designed to match one located in Points State Park, Pittsburgh, where the GAP trail's northern terminus is located.
"Congratulations to everyone who has been involved," said Fitzgerald. "The trails are not only something we ride and enjoy, but they are an economic development generator and I'm sure the folks who run restaurants, bike shops and hotels would attest to that."
William Atkinson, coordinator for the Trail Towns Program, said a smaller medallion was at Canal Place, but it was considered temporary until a permanent design could be installed.
"We put a small one here with the money we had at the time," said Atkinson. "But we wanted to improve what we have and make it more spectacular to mark just what it is. This site marks where your trip may begin or where it may end.
"We wanted to mark what is great about Cumberland and Allegany County. This was the C&O Canal terminus, the railroad terminus and the National Road's beginning ... the first federally funded highway in the county started here in Cumberland," he said. "It marks the Narrows where western expansion began. So Allegany County is the hub of all that transportation history and we wanted something that this medallion would show and it has turned out wonderfully."
Greg Larry is a reporter at Cumberland Times-News. To reach him, call 304-639-4951, email email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.