The small town of Cumberland Maryland might not seem like it could hold much significance to history. Most likely, the average person doesn’t know it exists. As I drive through it, old buildings are boarded up on the side of the road. A small park sandwiches a railroad museum, while the downtown is a mixture of bustling businesses and failed dreams. It’s a weekday afternoon, but not a single person wanders the streets. There is almost the ambience of a ghost town.
So what drew me here? Well, my love of US History, specifically the mid to late 18th century when our country was trying to further define freedom and start a revolution. But to get to the significance of Cumberland, we will have to rewind a little bit before that too when Britain ruled the New England Colonies and a young George Washington was a Colonel serving his King.
Washington had recently been sent to Fort LeBeof to oversee a negotiation between the French, a tribe of Native Americans, and the British. He had served in the militia for less than a year, but had experience surveying the area which the King’s Army thought was valuable for this situation. The meeting went terribly wrong and Tanaghrisson (The head of the natives and ally of Washington) ambushed the French during negotiations setting off the French and Indian war and catapulting Washington into the role that eventually led him to lead the American Army.
So what does Cumberland have to do with this story? Fort Cumberland was where Washington was posted and led the war from. It was here that he grew to prominence and gained the experience and tenacity to fight against the British troops. Fort Cumberland isn’t around anymore, but Washington’s office still stands in a small park above the downtown.
As I sat in front of the building, I couldn’t help but think about how extremely small things impact the world in huge ways. What if it had been a different colonel there that day? What if the natives didn’t attack the French bringing Washington in. What if Washington had not been in this building on one of those days and had gotten killed? What if, what if, what if.
So I even though you can’t go inside, and there really isn’t anything else of significance in this town, I’m really happy that I stopped here and I encourage you to stop by for a second, and take in the iconic history that this building helped create.
Closest Supercharger: La Vale MD 5 mi
11601 Winchester Rd, La Vale, MD 21502
George Washington’s Headquarters
38 Greene St, Cumberland, MD 21502