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Historic Maryland stone may find home in Frostburg museum

By Michael A. Saywer
Frostburg, Maryland (AP)

A cold stone that has been a hot potato could be headed for a home at the Frostburg Museum – maybe.

The Braddock Stone, an engraved rock of one ton that dates to the mid-1700s, when Gen. Edward Braddock and his 2,000 soldiers marched through western Maryland, has gathered much moss.

The newest of many projected public resting places for the rock – so that its historical significance can be appreciated – is the Frostburg Museum on Hill Street.

“Karen Treber told us that the stone continues to be owned by Frostburg State (University) and that it is being offered to the Frostburg Museum,” said Allegany County School Superintendent William AuMiller. “We’re waiting to hear back from the museum.”

Treber is a member of the county school board and an attorney for FSU.

Liz Medcalf, an FSU information officer speaking on behalf of Treber, said, “We are aware that the stone needs a home and we are talking with the city about it. We hope to find the best place, historically and physically.”

AuMiller said that should the museum reject the offer, the stone could still end up at the new Mountain Ridge High School.

AuMiller said that even though plans had been made in 2005 to locate the stone at Mountain Ridge, thoughts about the large object seemed to fade during the past two years. “It wasn’t until Karen brought it up recently that we even thought about it again,” he said.

The stone has been in storage for a number of years – first at FSU and more recently at the school board. Throughout this time, numerous efforts to find a public location for it have failed.

The rock, which can be thought of as an 18th-century global positioning unit, or perhaps an ancient road atlas, is engraved with distances to important locations of that time, such as forts, rivers, bridges and even an inn. In 2004, it was announced that the stone would be placed at Beall High School. Then came the decision that Beall would be razed as part of the Mountain Ridge project.

On one side of the stone is engraved “11 miles to Ft. Cumberland, 29 Ms to Capt Smyth’s Inn & Bridge Big Crossings” and “The best road to Redstone Old Fort 64 M.”

On the other side it reads “Our Country’s Rights We Will Defend.”

In 2004, Betty VanNewkirk, then the curator of the Frostburg Museum, suggested that building as a location for the stone. Numerous others stepped forward, conjuring locations that included Canal Place, Braddock Middle School, Palace Theatre, St. Michael Catholic Church, the Frostburg Depot and even an overlook on U.S. 40 near the crest of Big Savage Mountain.

Braddock, an English general, led British and Colonial troops in a disastrous expedition against Fort Duquesne during the French and Indian War. He planned to capture Fort Duquesne (in present-day Pittsburgh) as his first move. Braddock landed at Alexandria, Va., in 1755 and assembled a force of soldiers at Fort Cumberland.

George Washington was a member of Braddock’s staff. The troops took a path that Washington had marked two years before.

Braddock had few Indians to act as scouts. His troops were surprised by 900 French and Indians on July 9, in the woods near Fort Duquesne. The Indians fired into the column for two hours. Braddock showed great bravery but died of wounds he received. More than half his troops and most of his officers were killed or wounded.

On the Net:

Frostburg Museum: http://frostmuseum.allconet.org

Frostburg State University: http://www.frostburg.edu

Allegany County Public Schools: http://boe.allconet.org

Information from: Cumberland (Md.) Times-News,
http://www.times-news.com/timesnew.html
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