- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2003

CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) A Western Maryland man has mapped remnants of a 250-year-old trail in hopes of preserving the historic route used by George Washington, Colonial troops and thousands of westbound pioneers.
The route, known as Braddock's Trail, ran about 235 miles from Alexandria to Braddock, Pa., near Pittsburgh. The longest untouched portions lie in Maryland, according to Robert Bantz, a retired industrial engineer and amateur archaeologist who the National Park Service considers an authority on the Maryland section of the trail.
Mr. Bantz, of Bowling Green, said he used global positioning technology to accurately plot the Maryland section, including four miles of unmolested trail in Allegany County and 18 miles in Garrett County.
"I sent copies to Fort Necessity, the Maryland Archaeological Society and the state road folks in hopes they'll know where the trail is and help to preserve it," Mr. Bantz said yesterday. Fort Necessity is a French and Indian War battlefield near Uniontown, Pa.
The rough road that British troops cleared in 1754-55 under the command of Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock was the only way west from Cumberland until what is now U.S. Route 40 was completed in 1834.
Braddock, the leader of an ill-fated attempt to capture French-held Fort Duquesne at Pittsburgh, widened a route that the Ohio Trading Co. had blazed in 1753, following ancient American Indian footpaths.
"Braddock had to open it up at least 6 feet wide to allow the wagons and artillery. It was quite an engineering feat," said Steven Nuckles of Bridgeville, Pa., coordinator of events marking the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War. A group of educators and re-enactors will re-create Braddock's march from March through July of 2005
Mr. Bantz has hiked the Maryland section four times since he started the project about six years ago, starting with a 1908 map. He said about 90 percent of the original trail in Maryland runs across private land.
"It's a beautiful trail," he said. "It's going to be gone someday, I'm afraid."

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