Infrastructure troubles in Cumberland,MD.

It is no secret that the city of Cumberland has declined drastically from its former status of "Queen city of the Alleghenies", the RR and manufacturing backbone is severely reduced. The city has lost half its population in the last 50 years, and now the infrastructure built on and around the X-B&O trackage is beginning to crumble.

This week, the Brunswick Hotel, built in 1886, will be razed by the city after it began to collapse. This building at the corner of Baltimore and Park St. was right beside the Baltimore Street crossing with the B&O. Its location 1 block west of the former Queen City Station (current site of Amtrak) put the Brunswick in many photos, films, and videos of B&O, Chessie, and CSX trains passing by, a few feet from its doors. The building also housed businesses, including an iconic "Shoe Hospital".
An ongoing problem with CSX is the 3 ancient street overpasses in the city's west side, all 3 cross the Mountain Sub to Grafton. The bridge at Washington St. was hit back in August by a mis-routed Autorack car and has been closed by CSX pending demolition. The Cumberland St. bridge is slated to close this weekend, and the Fayette St. bridge is weight restricted, making for longer responses from emergency vehicles. All 3 are over 100 yrs. old and RR owned, leaving city officials frustrated in their efforts to get CSX to fix or replace the bridges.

Future problems may center on the Mountain Sub's 1909 concrete viaduct over Wills Creek and 2 busy streets, and the 1933 Truss/concrete Henderson Blvd. bridge over the Pittsburgh line.
Photos from Cumberland Times-News

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The "Discount Liquors" sign on the Brunswick Hotel gives an indication that there isn't enough economy to support the hotel. At least check in will be a bit quicker with the holes in the wall!

Sad; a magnificent example of 19th century architecture.

My grandparent's house in the South Hills section of Pittsburgh was built about the same time as the hotel. Brick, finished attic etc. My Dad grew up in it and had a "secret" room -which I found along with his sports "newspaper he typed in 1917(still have it). I Googled the location and found an empty lot !!  Torn down-the house where we celebrated the holidays, listened to the elections and WW II newscasts. Gone !!  When the roof goes bad, the rest follows.

Here are 2 more views of the doomed building, the last business (a 77 yr. old barber) left last year. The liquor store had originally opened in 1933 at the close of Prohibition, it shut down several years ago. The hotel was popular with salesmen and RR employees through the 1950s, but had gradually declined, since 1996 the current owners apparently lost interest. I don't recall the liquor store as being very prosperous during the time I delivered there for a local beer distributor from 1979-1984.
When I did a research project on the Cumberland Fire Dept., one anecdote concerned a horse-drawn aerial ladder fire truck being driven into the front window of the hotel to avoid hitting an oncoming train at the crossing. This resulted in the death of a fire horse named "Jerry", and occurred in May,1906.

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As a follow-up to this story, on Monday, 11/13, the Brunswick Hotel building was razed in a couple of hours.
The 131 year old structure exacted some revenge on its destruction when the southwest corner collapsed into Baltimore St. scattering debris over the adjacent RR tracks and taking down poles and a set of traffic signals.
Cumberland Times-news.com has a video of this.

Another Cumberland trackside landmark is gone, like so many before it...

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Mike CT


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