Allegany derives its name from the Native American word oolikhanna, or "beautiful streams." Westward-bound pioneers, riding in covered wagons, followed an ancient Native American trail through the Cumberland Narrows, a 1,000-foot-high gap that forms the main pass through the Allegheny Mountains. English settlers came in the mid-18th century and began mining and establishing towns and farms.
George Washington spent part of his early career at Fort Cumberland and at a log cabin he used for his headquarters during the French and Indian War – it’s now located at Cumberland’s Riverside Park. Cumberland was established in 1785 and became the county seat when Allegany was chartered in 1789.
Allegany County has traditionally provided thoroughfares for travelers going west. The National Road, the first federally funded highway, began in Cumberland. At the C&O Canal National Historical Park, you can see how people used to travel. You’ll see a replica of a C&O Canal boat, as well as the Paw Paw tunnel – a three-quarter-mile-long passageway that took 12 years to build.
The Transportation and Industrial Museum has many pictures of the canal, railroad and Allegany County industry. Take a ride aboard the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad to Frostburg. After lunch at The Depot, the restaurant at the station in Frostburg, stop by the Thrasher Carriage Museum and the Frostburg Museum.
Other noteworthy destinations include: the Mt. Savage Museum, where Irish workers operated iron furnaces; the Michael Cresap Museum, named after a Revolutionary War hero and the oldest historic home in the county; and LaVale Toll Gate House, the state’s only remaining toll house on the National Road.
Visit the Allegany County (http://www.mdmountainside.com/) web site.