Boat Building at the Cumberland Basin

Boat Building at the Cumberland Basin (HM19YE)

Location: Cumberland, MD 21502 Allegany County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 38.958', W 78° 45.795'

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Inscription
Cumberland, the western terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, was the location where the George's Creek coal from western Allegany County was transferred from the short line railroads to canal boats for shipment east. Cumberland was also the center for canal boat building. C&O Canal Company owned boat yards were located on the Little Basin. A number of private boat builders such as John Mertens and Sons had large boat building yards at the south end of the loading basin known as the Shriver Basin.

The boat builders were skilled craftsmen. Boats were built of Georgia pine and oak and caulked with hemplike material called oakum. Boats could hold 120 tons of cargo each and could last 25 years or more. Originally built in varying sizes small enough to fit inside the 15 foot wide by 100 foot long locks, a standard size for boats of 14 1/2 feet wide by 90-95 feet long was adopted.

In the early years of canal operation, many boats were privately owned and given names such as Yankee, Pilgrim, Clementine and Three Sisters, but following formation of the Canal Towage Company in 1902, boats were numbered instead of named. At its peak, over 550 canal boats worked the canal, most constructed in Cumberland.

Painting
"Cumberland Boatyards" by John Louis Wellington (1878-1965) courtesy of The Maryland Historical Society.Bottom Left Photo
Looking north towards Cumberland Basin

Bottom Center Diagram
Diagram of 92' long by 14 1/2' wide cargo boat

Bottom Left Photo

Typical cargo boat with flags flying
Details
HM NumberHM19YE
Series This marker is part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal series
Tags
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 26th, 2014 at 7:48am PDT -07:00
Pictures
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 691910 N 4391225
Decimal Degrees39.64930000, -78.76325000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 38.958', W 78° 45.795'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 38' 57.48" N, 78° 45' 47.70" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)301, 240
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 119 S Mechanic St, Cumberland MD 21502, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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