We’re planning on doing another Cumberland to Georgetown bike trip in June, but we generally do most of our (ahem) training on the Western Maryland Rail Trail. The main reason is that I’m trying to get maximum mileage out of last year’s tune-up at the bike shop. Hitting the towpath too hard and too soon generally makes for a dirty chain and clogged gears, plus a few shakes and rattles in the other components of our aging bicycles. On a recent trek on the WMRT from Hancock to Pearre Station, I was reminded that I haven’t seen one of my favorite stretches of the C&O in quite a while. Of course, I’m referring to some of the unique scenery close to mile marker 127. The Round Top Cement Mill was built in the late 1830s, and the cement was used to help build the western end of the canal (1850). Afterward, the mill remained open for another sixty years or so. The remains are pretty desolate these days, but they do attest to the heyday of this bustling endeavor.
The Devil’s Eyebrow is a frightening piece of Mother Nature’s handiwork that sits about two-tenths of a mile downstream from the cement mill. It’s a neat combination of anticline/shallow cave that looks like an empty eye socket, and the “eyebrow” portion is arched in such a manner that it replicates the sneer of old Beelzebub himself (or perhaps Dudley Do-Right’s arch-nemesis Snidely Whiplash). Don’t get me wrong: I do have lots of love for the Western Maryland Rail Trail, but there’s a time to get off of the pavement and see the sights of the C&O. Plus, I had a couple of old images that I wasn’t doing anything with, and, well, you get the picture.