A nutcracker Christmas at Allegany Museum

Allegany Museum is going crackers for Christmas! – Nutcrackers, that is.
The largest display of nutcrackers ever shown in Maryland will open on Friday December 2nd in the grand ballroom on the 2nd floor of Allegany Museum, after the civic Tree Lighting Ceremony.
The Opening Reception will open the huge exhibition, including rare historic nutcrackers in the form of wood carvings of soldiers, knights, kings, and other professions. There will be refreshments for all attending.
The Opening Reception kicks off the Nutcracker Season which will run every Saturday from December 3 through 17. The series of three “Nutty Kids Saturdays” begins December 3 with the history of the nutcracker and “cracker craft”. On December 10 there will be book readings, craft, and a visit from Santa. “Nutty music” on December 17 will complete the kids’ series. All “Nutty Saturdays” run from 10 am-12 noon, and are free. They are most suitable for children between the ages of 4 to 10.
Children under 10 can collect a different nutcracker ornament at each event, from the Opening Reception through the “Nutty” Kids Saturdays to make a personal collection of four ornaments, and can enter a drawing for a special nutcracker.
All events are free.
For more information, call (301) 777-7200


Memorial Hospital Portico to be feature of renovated Allegany Museum

The Memorial Hospital Portico will star once more in Cumberland, this time as the entrance to the newly renovated and restored Allegany Museum at 3 Pershing St.

Memorial Hospital, which was established on Baltimore Ave as the Western Maryland Hospital in 1888, and was renamed in 1929 in honor of those who gave their life in World War I.

The entrance to the Museum, which is now on Pershing St, will be reconfigured to face Interstate 68. The new entrance will lead into the extensive Crossroads of America exhibition, slated to be open fall 2017. Crossroads of America will occupy most of the first floor of the Museum, and provide a sensory as well as visual story of human movement in the area, by road, water, and rail.

While government grants will pay most of costs of the remodeling and the new exhibition, the Museum does not have any income to pay for staff or for day-to-day expenses, like power, cleaning, and so on. Nearly everything is done by unpaid volunteers. We always welcome new volunteers, donations, and endowments.



Sketch of the new exterior

1915 Model T donated for Crossroads of America exhibit

Allegany Museum would like to thank Randy & Donna Shaffer for their generous donation of a beautiful 1915 Ford Model T.
The Model T is in original mint condition and quite possibly the oldest passenger car in Allegany County.
the car will be a major element concerning the exhibition of the first National Road in America, which started in Cumberland.
It will be on exhibition in 2017 when the final phase of renovation is finished at the Allegany Museum, 3 Pershing St.


Randy Shaffer with Gary Bartik, Museum Director, and Neal Furlow, who provided transport for the vehicle.

Cumberland’s first celebration of Maryland Emancipation Day

The City of Cumberland has issued an official Proclamation of November 6 2016 as the Celebration of Emancipation Day.

This auspicious event will be celebrated with an interactive Underground Railroad experience at Emmanuel Episcopal Church grounds and tunnel on November 6 at 7:00 pm.

The focus of the event will be the story of Samuel Denson, a slave who came to Cumberland from Mississippi, up the Underground Railroad line. Although Cumberland was in slave territory, he decided not to continue on his own journey to freedom, but rather to stay, pretending to be a freedman, to work for the freedom of others.

The event is a joint venture of Allegany College of Maryland’s NAACP Club, FSU’s African American Studies Program, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, and the Jane Gates Heritage House.


Sharing opinions with civility

At Allegany Museum, we are preparing (with much excitement) the dioramas for the Way We Worked exhibition, which will show Feb 3 to March 24 next year, alongside the Smithsonian exhibits.
We are uncovering many intriguing snippets about working life in Allegany County over the last 150 years.
This one (below), from the Cumberland Times News of July 11 1939, shows that it is possible to be reasonable and civil, even when dissenting. The talent for this seems to have almost disappeared in the lead up to the presidential election of 2016. It is from a Times News ‘man-on’the-street’ collection of opinions about the possible loss of WPA projects in Cumberland.


Frederick Douglass visits Cumberland

Marshal Frederick Douglass arrived by express train at Cumberland’s Queen City hotel on September 23 1879, to deliver a lecture for the Emancipation celebration (from the Washington Post, Sept. 24, 1879):
“Emancipation Day” was yesterday celebrated in this city in a very enthusiastic manner by the colored people, who flocked to the city in large numbers from the neighboring towns of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. It was a gala day for the colored race.

About 2,000 visitors were in town, and the streets presented an animated appearance. The weather was cloudy but no rain fell, and everything went off pleasantly. About noon a procession was formed, which passed through the principal streets and wended its way to the Fair grounds, which are located in a commanding position to the east of the city. Several Masonic and other secret societies appeared in line.

Marshal Douglass arrived on the express train from Washington at 2:10 P.M. He was met at the Queen City hotel by an immense crowd of people, and escorted through the principal streets in a barouche, in which were seated Mayor William J. Read, Hon. Henry W. Hoffman, and Rev. B. H. Lee, the pastor of the A.M.E. Church if this city, who was also the president of the meeting. The procession arrived at the Fair grounds at 3 o’clock, escorted by a band of music.


Transportation Department grant for ‘Crossroads of America’

Allegany Museum has been awarded $240,000 from the Transportation Enrichment Program of the Maryland Department of Transportation to assist development of a new permanent exhibition: ‘Crossroads of America’.

This major exhibition will occupy most of the first floor of the Museum building at the corner of Mechanic and Pershing St. It will provide a sensory as well as visual story of human movement in the area, by road, water, and rail.

The exhibition will center on the National Road and its evolution from Nemacolin’s Trail, the ancient Native American trail that crossed the barrier of the Allegheny Mountains via the Cumberland Narrows Mountain pass. Visitors will be able to walk along a reconstructed ‘road’ that will display vehicles such as an authentic Conestoga wagon, and a Model T Ford. Each portion of the road will be constructed in accordance to conditions at the time. Visitors will also be able to participate in interactive exhibits.

The first floor is currently divided into offices, most of which are now empty. The renovation will begin in the next few weeks, and reveal the domed ceiling, marble floors, and other features of the beautiful 1920’s building. Once that is complete, the exhibition will be constructed.

<Images: Planned entrance to the exhibition; National Road in the exhibition >



Are you a movie expert? Can you find this movie?

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was one of the New Deal programs established by President Franklin Roosevelt. Company 335-C (colored) and Company 1359, S-58-Md, were located in Allegany County, Maryland.
In 1935, Paramount released ‘It’s a Great Life’, set in a CCC camp. It was directed by Edward F. Cline and starred Joe Morrison.
It was advertised and reviewed in the Cumberland Evening Times (see attached).
Allegany Museum would like to show either the movie or clips during The Way We Worked exhibition next February and march, but exhaustive internet searches have been fruitless.
Do you know where we might find clips or a copy? (We have emailed Paramount but have not yet received a reply.)




Preserve the history that you and your family helped to make

Can you help preserve our history for future generations?

Too often, the results of our lifetime of work leave the area when we leave, or pass on.  Both our wealth and our personal contribution to the area’s history leave the region, never to return.

Your donations and bequests to Allegany Museum can preserve the history that you and your family helped to make.

How can you pass on your legacy to the community?

  • Contact the Allegany Museum at 301-777-7200 regarding those heritage items in your basements and attics that you’ve “been meaning to do something with.” Allegany Museum can help preserve them for future generations to learn from. Right now, the Museum is looking for photos and artifacts of working life in the County, particularly of labor unions, the Celanese plant, railway workers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and of WPA and CCC projects and workers.
  • Create a family legacy by giving to the Allegany Museum Endowment, which transforms your one moment of giving into generations of educational opportunities.
  • Update your will, retirement plans and life insurance policies with your charitable intentions.
  • The satisfaction of giving is immediate; and when given to this endowment, the impact can be everlasting.

Your family is already part of your community’s history. Make it part of your community’s future.

The photo below shows the Allegany County Teachers Federal Credit Union giving their second Founders pledge to the Allegany Museum Endowment Fund. Founders pledge $5,000 or more, spread over five years. The Endowment helps to ensure the longevity of the Museum for future generations of learners.

ALCO Teachers FCU President/Treasurer Patricia Folk presented the check to Daryl Smith, Development Director of the Allegany Museum.

teachers credit union foundation 2016-08-26

George Washington feared insurgents would “shake the government to its foundation.”

On this day, August 26 1794, Washington wrote to Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee that he had decided to use force to put down the ‘Whiskey Rebellion’.
Washington knew that the nation, having only recently violently overthrown the tyrannical English king, was in a delicate state, and he did not want to appear as an equally despotic president. He waited to see if the insurgents would back down, but 6,000 angry men gathered near Pittsburgh and challenged Washington and the federal government to disperse them.
Mounted on his horse, Washington lead a force of 13,000 to quell the uprising. (In fact, the aging president made most of the journey by carriage.)
He addressed the troops at Fort Cumberland as they prepared for action. This was the first and only time a sitting American president has ever led troops into battle.
June 9, 2017, the Whiskey Rebellion Fest at the Allegany Museum, Cumberland, will celebrate Washington, the rebellion, and whiskey.