The story behind the Casselman River Bridge exemplifies the pioneering spirit and ingenuity of our ancestors. From its conception in the early 1800s to its preservation and renovation in the 1940s and again in 1979, the Casselman River Bridge still stands today – 200 years later.
In celebration of the bicentennial event, a collaboration of organizations, (including the Casselman River Bridge State Park, Town of Grantsville, Spruce Forest Artisan Village, the Maryland National Road Assoc. and the Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area) will host a 3-day commemorative event. From September 20-22, 2013, the Casselman River Bridge State Park and the Town of Grantsville will host various events and activities to mark the occasion.
Recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge was originally constructed as part of the National Road Project to help geographically unify the young republic. In the early 19thcentury, Little Crossings, the area near the bridge, grew from one Inn to a thriving center of commerce and transportation, thanks in part to the construction of the 80-foot long bridge. Stage coaches, horsemen, wagons and foot traffic transported people and supplies over the Casselman River (then known as “Little Youghiogheny”) along Braddock’s Road.
Two hundred years ago, a public celebration was held to remove the supports and officially open the bridge. Historical records indicate that many locals thought the bridge would collapse once the supports were removed. Unconfirmed rumors suggest that the bridge superintendent privately removed one of the key supports the night before the opening in 1813 to make sure it wouldn’t collapse during the public celebration. Ironically, the bridge still stands, two centuries later.
Today, the bridge proudly sits as the centerpiece to the Casselman River Bridge State Park. Although it is currently undergoing repairs, the bridge will reopen to foot traffic in time for the bicentennial celebration in September. Join with local history buffs and community members in this tribute to the resourceful engineers who constructed the longest single span stone arch bridge in America at the time, the generations of people who traversed the bridge on horseback or automobile and future generations who will recognize the significance of this historic landmark.