"Our pleasure trips usually stopped at the top of the mountain because of thehairpin turn to the right that dropped into a severely sharp curve."
This route is an ancient one. Our travelingancestors pushed across, around and finallythrough this mountain. Sideling Hill, alwaysa steep and dangerous climb, first showedup on a 1755 map as "Side Long Hill."
When frontiersman Thomas Cresap movedup the Potomac Valley, he hired localIndians to widen the trail over the mountainfor his wagons.
During the heyday of the National Road,stagecoaches crashed and passengers were killedon the slope near Hancock.
Throughout the 1930s, the 40 miles to Cumberlandon US 40 was still considered a long hard trip."There were five mountains to go over - from eastto west - Sideling Hill, Town Hill Mountain, GreenRidge, Polish and Martins Mountain."
With construction of I-68, engineers finallytamed this 350 million-year-old ridge in the1980s. They blasted out a 4½ mile long, 380foot deep and 200 foot wide cut in SidelingHill. After two years and $20 million worthof modern blasting, the first motorists drovethrough the cut in August, 1985.
(sidebar) As evidenced by this early 20thcentury advertisement,automobile trips on narrow,steep roads without guardrails,could be a dangerous business.Local historian EmilyLeatherman recalled, "Rainydays were disastrous. We couldwatch the cars go to the doctor'soffice across the street. They hadslid off the road into the ditchesor trees."
(sidebar) The deepest road cut in Maryland history moved 4.5 millioncubic yards of rock and dirt.