Breaking Through a Mountain

Breaking Through a Mountain (HMGO0)

Location: Oldtown, MD 21555 Allegany County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 33.004', W 78° 27.777'

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The Paw Paw Tunnel stands as a monument to the ability and daring of 19th century canal builders. By building the mile-long cut through the mountain, including the 3,118-foot tunnel, the canal avoided six miles of river bends and steep, rocky cliffs.

Methodist minister and contractor Lee Montgomery began construction in 1836, with estimates of completion in two years. Labor shortages, financial difficulties, underestimating the cost of the work, and a maze of lawsuits eventually forced Montgomery into bankruptcy. Work on the tunnel stopped. In 1850 the tunnel was finally completed, opening the canal from Georgetown to Cumberland.

Hand Labor
Using what we would consider primitive tools, laborers dug through 3,118 feet of unstable shale. Picks and shovels, wheelbarrows, black powder, mule power, and backbreaking labor built the tunnel.

Irish laborers, British and German stonemasons, and a few other nationalities came together to build the canal and tunnel. Occasionally there were clashes between these diverse groups.
HM NumberHMGO0
Placed ByChesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park - National Park Service - US Dept. of the Interior
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 22nd, 2014 at 6:48pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 717990 N 4380895
Decimal Degrees39.55006667, -78.46295000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 33.004', W 78° 27.777'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 33' 0.24" N, 78° 27' 46.62" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1 Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath, Oldtown MD 21555, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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