Cumberland Times-News

March 20, 2013

‘A Step Back’

Downtown architectural walking tour in the making

Cumberland Times-News

— The city of Cumberland, with its beautiful architecture, stunning church steeples and historic appeal, has long been a hit with visitors. Soon the tourist appeal may be enhanced by creation of a walking tour.

The Downtown Development Commission is planning to place plaques on structures within the city’s core. Beyond the plaques, the plan also calls for enabling visitors to use their smartphones to scan a QR code for information on each stop along the way. The project will move forward if a grant to fund the program can be secured.

Called “A Step Back in History Walking Tour,” the existing attraction has 11 stops, beginning at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and C&O Canal Visitor Center, winding through downtown with stops at places such as Allegany Museum and City Hall and continuing on to George Washington Headquarters and then onto Washington Street.

The tour of downtown buildings will have a separate brochure, according to Vic Rezendes, vice president of administration for the Allegany Museum.

Sandi Saville, chairwoman of the DDC, said buildings likely to be included in the new effort currently house M&T Bank, Susquehanna Bank, Fort Cumberland Arms and Embassy Theater.

“The idea is to describe the architecture and list the chain of owners and businesses for each building,” she said. By scanning the QR Code, the tourist gets an audio podcast with that information.

Rezendes said if the grant money comes through the walking tour and a brochure will be available for visitors this fall.

Combining plaques, a brochure and cyber information about Cumberland's tourist sites should be a hit with out-of-town visitors and locals alike. The DDC is to be commended for such an innovative approach.