Tired and breathless? You are experiencing the hardship of a Union soldier climbing to reach his work place (a fort) or his home (a tent or log cabin). Try ascending this road hauling a 9,700-pound gun tube or a week's supply of water. From 1862 through 1863, the Federals built seven fortifications and staked out numerous encampments on this rugged and remote mountain. Maj. Frank Rolfe of the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment described the effort:
"...the batteries were situated from 250 to 2,065 feet above the river and the roads leading to them very rocky, steep and crooked and barely wide enough for a wagon. Over these roads the guns, ammunition and supplies of all kind were hauled."
Timber cutting was another tedious job for the Federals. Soldiers clear-cut the upper third of the mountain to provide adequate lines of fire and supplies of wood for shelter and campfires. Lt. Charles F. Morse of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry recorded this entry on October 20, 1862, while commanding a detachment of 100 tree-choppers:
"We began our labor at the bottom of a ravine and worked up a steep hill. Sometimes there would be as many as twenty or thirty fine trees falling at once; they reminded me of men falling in battle, that same dead, helpless fall."
Your perseverance to reach the summit was almost - but not quite - shared by President Abraham Lincoln when he visited Maryland Heights on October 2, 1862. After a formal review of the army, Lt. Charles Morse guided the presidential party toward the summit:
"I showed the way until we got to a path where it was right straight up, when Lincoln backed out. I think it must have reminded him of a little story about a very steep place; at any rate around they turned and went down the mountain."