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GAP Website     
Pittsburgh to Washington, DC Corridor Development and Conversion to Trail
1828 Construction began on the C & O Canal, following the route of the Potomac River north. Original plan was to go to the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
1850 C & O Canal construction stopped at Cumberland, Maryland 184.5 miles from Washington, DC. The canal operated as a transportation route, primarily hauling coal from western Maryland to the port of Georgetown in Washington, DC.
1877The Montour Railroad was first chartered.
1883Pittsburgh, McKeesport & Youghiogheny Railroad (PMc&Y) opens section of railroad between cities of Connellsville and McKeesport. Several changes in ownership, but section remains active railroad for over 100 years.
1924C & O Canal closed as transportation route. Hundreds of original structures, including locks, lockhouses, and aqueducts, serve as reminders of the canal's role as a transportation system during the Canal Era.
1938Corridor acquired by the Federal Government for $2 million. Plans for super highway evolved.
1946The Montour Railroad was jointly sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad.
1950s Justice William O. Douglas opposed plans to use the C & O Canal corridor to construct a super highway into Maryland. He recognized the historical, cultural, geological, and botanical significance of the C & O and he challenged opinion-shapers of his day to walk the length with him and decided for themselves if it should be destroyed.
1954Justice Douglas leads the walk and gains support which resulted in the formation of the C & O Canal National Park.
1961 C & O Canal named a national monument
1962Trains stopped running on the Peters Creek Branch of the Montour Railroad.
1971 Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Historical Park designated.
1972The Western-Maryland Railroad through Somerset County was abandoned.
1975Western PA conservancy acquired the Western Maryland right of way for Ohiopyle State Park.


The Great Allegheny Passage can trace its beginning to June 9, 1978, when the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased the first property that would become the GAP from the Western Maryland Railway Company.

1984The Montour Railroad was abandoned leaving 55 miles of railroad vacant.
19869.5 mile rail-trail conversion project in Pennsylvania's Ohiopyle State on Western Maryland railbed is completed. Immediate success of the first stretch of the Youghiogheny River Trail.
1987The President's Commission on America's Outdoors recommended that "communities create a network of greenways across the country... and states establish scenic byways."
1989The Montour Trail Council was organized.
1990P&LE files to abandon McKeesport to Connellsville corridor. Interest in railbanking from three counties involved: Allegheny, Westmoreland, and Fayette and a Youghiogheny River Trail Task Force was formed to study the feasibility of converting the P&LE Railroad right of way into a recreational trail.
1992 Trail construction begins on the Youghiogheny River Trail(North). The initial section of the Montour Trail (four miles in Cecil Township in Washington County) opened.
1995 Allegheny Trail Alliance formed as a unique alliance of the seven groups building trails from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland.
1996Master Implementation Plan for completing the Pittsburgh to Cumberland Trail System undertaken. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary John C. Oliver recognizes the trail as one of the most important rail trail projects in the United States.
1997$16 million included in Pennsylvania's Capital Budget through efforts of Representative Rick Geist. Last section of right of way for the Allegheny Highlands Trail acquired.
1998Governor Tom Ridge releases $1.5 from the capital budget for the Allegheny Trail Alliance. Federal Transportation Bill is signed and includes six million dollars in TEA-21 monies for the Allegheny Trail Alliance. During Keystone Ride 98, Governor Tom Ridge officially opens the Smithton to Dawson section of the Youghiogheny River Trail linking Confluence to Boston, over 66 miles of completed trail.
1999First annual Yockatomac Trek -- Washington to Pittsburgh Group Ride.
2000Three bridges opened!
2001Fort Hill to Confluence section completed--linking McKeesport to the end of the Salisbury Viaduct via 100 miles to continuous trail.
2003Keystone Viaduct and Big Savage Tunnel rehabbed for trail use.
2004Five miles opened in Maryland from State Line to Frostburg.
2004 Salisbury Viaduct to Meyersdale.
2005 Stateline to Big Savage Tunnel.
2005 Frostburg to Woodcock Hollow.
2005 Big Savage Tunnel to Sand Patch.
2006 Meyersdale to Sand Patch.
2006 Woodcock Hollow to Cumberland.
2007 Hot Metal Bridge.
2007 Bollman Bridge.
2008 McKeesport RIDC Trail.
2008 Riverton Bridge.
2009 Duquesne Tunnel.
2009 Duquesne RIDC Trail -- 135 miles continuous trail to Cumberland, MD.
2010 Port Perry Bridge.
2010 Whitaker Bridge.
2011 Garrett Underpass & trail complete.
2011 Munhall Bike Lane.
2011 Duquesne to Homestead & the Pipeline Coaster -- 141 miles continuous trail to Cumberland, MD.
2012 West Homestead sidewalk.
2013 Sandcastle & Keystone Metals -- 150 miles continuous trail from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD - June 15, 2013 - Point Made!
Map Geology On The Trail
The top ten geological sites as determined by DCNR geologist Jim Shaulis.

For more information on the geology on the trail, check out From Rails to Trails to Rocks, the Geology of the Garret and Rockwood Section of the Allegheny Highlands Trail by Jim and Tom Jones. It is available on the DCNR site.

 • Visit the DCNR website
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