Cumberland Times-News

March 18, 2013

DDC walking tour plan going high-tech

Development commission members hope to merge into current attraction

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — A Downtown Development Commission plan to create a walking tour by placing plaques on structures within the city’s core, such as the Lila Building, is taking a turn into cyber world.

“We are still considering having plaques with some basic information, but the plan now is to merge into the existing tour (cumberlandhistorytours.com) that allows the visitor to use a smartphone to scan a QR Code for information at each stop,” said Sandi Saville, DDC chairwoman.

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.

“I am seeking a grant right now to include the new tour,” Rezendes said Monday afternoon.

Saville said downtown 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 a portion of the project will be the placement of new signs aimed at attracting tourists who are in town for a different reason to also take part in the walk.

“We’d like to get folks who are going to the (scenic) railroad to know that this tour is walkable and doable,” he said.

Rezendes said grant awards will be announced in July. “If we get the grant, the walking tour and a new (brochure) will be up and running by fall,” he said.

When the idea was first presented this past October, Ed Mullaney, downtown manager, told the Times-News he would welcome the building tour.

“With all the class reunions we are having on the mall, this really fits,” he said.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.