Cumberland Times-News

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May 6, 2013

SHA exploring options for Civil War battleground

CUMBERLAND — A consultant is preparing a proposal that could offer some hope for the preservation of the ruins of a Civil War battle site and potentially some means of public access to the property.

An April 23 letter by Melinda B. Peters, the administrator of the State Highway Administration, holds out a bit of hope that some positive developments could occur for the site known as Folck’s Mill. Peters was writing to members of the District 1 legislative delegation. The letter maintained the SHA’s overall pessimism about the site.

“SHA met with a consultant structural engineer archeologist and architectural historian ... to view the site in order to determine if it is possible to stabilize the ruins,” Peters’ letter said. The consultant is to prepare a proposal and at that point, the SHA will determine a course of action and relay it to the lawmakers.

Lack of funding and other funding priorities remain the largest problem with the preservation of the site.

In April of 2012, the SHA obtained an estimate of $248,925 to repoint the ruin’s mortar joints. “SHA’s engineers believe the cost of repointing a ruin that is missing 75 percent of its original structure does not justify the expenditure,” Peters wrote. “Currently, SHA is exploring the possibility of stabilizing the ruin, perhaps through scaffolding or bracing, at a lower cost.”

Another option might be expansion of the Canal Place Heritage Area, which could include the mill site and make it eligible for funding, a state official said.

Grants from the Maryland Historical Trust of the Maryland Department of Planning have dried up in the past few years.

Preservation efforts for the site have been led by the Allegany County Civil War Roundtable.

The mill and battle site are located off Exit 46 of Interstate 68 East close to Naves Crossroad. Public access to the site is difficult from the highway.

Gen. Benjamin Kelly, commander of the Union forces, successfully defended the city at the Battle of Pleasant Mill (locally known as Folck’s Mill).

The battle saved the city of Cumberland from possible destruction by Confederate forces.

The members of the District 1 delegation are state Sen. George Edwards, along with Delegates Kevin Kelly, Wendell Beitzel and LeRoy Myers Jr.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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