Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Evolution of a Community: Hancock, Maryland

I spent my first zero day since reaching the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in Hancock, Maryland running errands to prepare for my last forty miles on the canal before heading into West Virginia. While wandering around I learned something of the city's history.
Hancock is not named after the flamboyant parchment-hogger John, but rather Joseph, who as an enlisted man fought in several key engagements during the American Revolution. The city was also bombarded by Stonewall Jackson during an unsuccessful attempt to find a place to safely ford the Potomac.
The history of the town was tied for years to its importance as a hub on the canal and later the Western Maryland railway. After the demise of both, the citizenry have searched for a new niche. During the mid 20th century Hancock flourished thanks to the apple industry, which thrived on the Potomac's flood plain. The renaissance was short-lived. Arguments over labor compensation between the owners and the state government led to the closure of the orchards in the early 1980s.
Hancock's present iteration is as a "Trail Community" tied to the C&O and Western Maryland Rail Trails, a way of embracing the past in order to establish a future. the C&O Bicycle Shop, where I stayed for my two nights here, is part of that effort. If the kindness and generosity of Dennis and Ron at the shop and Dawn at A Little Off the Top is an indication of the town as a whole I have a feeling the endeavor will be rewarded in spades.

0 miles/232 total miles

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