The opening of the National Road in 1811, the arrival of the B&O railroad in 1842, and the completion of the C&O Canal in 1850 turned Cumberland into a modern transportation hub. By the close of the Civil War, coal production in Appalachia had rocketed. Maryland was producing millions of short tons of coal a year that was fed to industrial and urban centers over Cumberland’s train and canal links. The Allegany Museum collects objects and information that document our region’s role in America’s post Civil War industrial boom. Our two key stories about the rise and decline of products Made in America are glassware and tire production.

Glassmaking and Breweries

Cumberland was an ideal location for glassmaking because of its proximity to rich coal deposits needed for fuel and silica sandstone, the raw material of glass.  After about 1880, the city became a center of glass manufacturing. Local glass factories produced many popular patterns and obtained patents for some inventions.

Glass factories were dangerous places to work and commonly burnt to the ground. One of the earliest and most prominent glass companies, Wellington Glass Company, was completely destroyed by fire in 1920. Wellington Glass employed around 300 people, but the huge losses from the fire, estimated at $400,000, were insurmountable and the factory was not rebuilt. After 1930, glassmaking played a much-diminished role in the local economy. The Allegany museum is acquiring key examples of local glass as well as tools and archival information that document the history of this important industry.

A list of glass manufactures that operated in the Cumberland region is available here.

Kelly Springfield Tire Company

Maryland’s coal production reached its peak in the first decade of the 20th century and declined after World War I as new energy sources such as petroleum became important. The decline of coal mining and glassmaking hit Cumberland’s economy hard. As these and other small local industries such as breweries declined, the Kelly-Springfield Tire Company based in Ohio opened a tire manufacturing plant in Cumberland in 1921.

Kelly-Springfield began in 1894 as a manufacturer of rubber ties for carriages, patenting a process of placing a solid rubber tire in a rim channel. Kelly-Springfield tires were quickly adapted to the expanding automobile industry and the company thrived. The Kelly-Springfield company closed the Cumberland plant in 1987.

The Allegany Museum houses the complete archive from the Springfield-Kelly company’s offices in Cumberland, including the company’s business documents; artifacts created by the company as part of commemorative and marketing campaigns; and most makes and models of tires created during the company’s operation.