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Washington County's stone arch bridges highlighted

Photos, descriptions of 21 bridges included in new brochure

Photos, descriptions of 21 bridges included in new brochure

December 10, 2007

The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau has produced a new brochure called "Bridges of Washington County Maryland."

It showcases 21 historic stone arch structures that span Conococheague Creek and Antietam Creek, and its tributaries.

Washington County is unique in Maryland, because nowhere else can one find so many early- to mid- 19th-century limestone arch bridges, along with several stone arch aqueducts along the C&O Canal.

The concept for the brochure came from Katherine Campbell Francomano of DoubleDog Productions. The design layout was done by Icon Graphics.

The brochure has current photographs of each bridge done by Francomano, an accurate background of each bridge, as well as a few historical photographs, and two maps that show the location of each bridge. Some have notations that the bridge is on private land and may not be visited without permission from the owner; the bridges that have county picnic areas are also indicated.

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"This project took about a year from beginning to end," said CVB President and CEO Tom Riford. "We're getting very good feedback, and our Visitor Welcome Center is already receiving requests for the brochure across the United States, just through word of mouth."

Francomano uses the brochure in her own demonstrations and historic lectures to area nursing homes, assisted living facilities and organizations.

"This was a labor of love," said Francomano. "I greatly admire these uniquely beautiful bridges and their place in our country's history. I was drawn to photographing them and began doing historical research about each one of them. I approached Tom Riford, who really took the next step of making this into something to share with a lot of people, and we're all so pleased that the project became a reality."

The CVB had 15,000 copies of the brochure done in the first printing. They are available at the downtown Hagers-town Visitor Welcome Center, Prime Outlets and Valley Mall, as well as from area hotels and CVB members.

From arguably the most famous of all of the stone arch bridges in North America, the Burnside Bridge over Antietam Creek, to several lesser-known structures, including the picturesque Leitersburg Bridge Number 2, the CVB-produced brochure illustrates an important part of Washington County's history.

"The oldest and largest stone arch bridge is the 210-foot Wilson's Bridge, completed in 1819, and at the time was said to be 'a modern marvel' which provided an important link in the National Road," Riford said.

"The second printing of the brochure may very well include additions to the listings, and we are thinking of adding lesser-known bridges like the Israel Creek Bridge, Licking Creek Aqueduct and Tonoloway Creek Aqueduct. We're also going to put the whole project online, just as we did with our CVB bicycle map and brochure."

The new brochure was reviewed for accuracy by the Washington County Historical Society, local historian Patricia Schooley, Washington County Special Projects Director Gary Rohrer, historians from the Western Maryland Room at Washington County Free Library including John Frey, CVB Historian Roger Keller, Washington County Historical Society Executive Director Jim Neville and others.

"Our hope is that this brochure will bring a new appreciation to Washington County's stone arch bridges and our part in the building of the C&O Canal," Riford said. "These are our 'legacies in stone.' To have so many historic bridges still standing, with all of them built before the end of the Civil War, makes Washington County singular in the state of Maryland. Engineers from around the world have long known about our abundance of historic stone arch bridges, and this new brochure and map gives them proper recognition."

For more information about the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, visit www.marylandmemories.com.

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