Casselman River Bridge State Park
10240 National Pike Grantsville, MD 21536
Known as much for its man-made history as it is for its natural features, Casselman River Bridge State Park attracts everyone from ardent anglers to hardcore history buffs. Once part of a busy thoroughfare known as “Little Crossings,” the four acre park is home to both trophy size trout and a bridge that made history with its innovative design.
Rising atop the plateau of Western Maryland, the Casselman River follows a great arc across the Laurel Highlands of Somerset County, PA to the appropriately named town of Confluence, where Laurel Hill Creek joins a few yards above the Youghiogheny River. It is a wide stream that offers a variety of habitats. There are deep runs, large deep holes and even some pocket water. Water levels can vary especially during the spring, so be sure to consult with the DNR for flow conditions. The trout fishery in the Casselman River Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Area is managed using adult hatchery brown and rainbow trout stocked each spring and fall. Many of the trout reach sizes greater than 5 lbs! The Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Area management includes a Catch and Release Season from October 1- June 15 when use of artificial lures or flies are permitted. Two trout per day can be harvested June 16t-September 30 with no bait or tackle restrictions. Check the Maryland Freshwater Sportfishing Guide for full details. Much of the land bordering the Casselman is privately owned. Casselman River Bridge State Park is the only public land that borders the Delayed Harvest Area.
In 1755, the area where the park is located was named Little Crossings by George Washington. He was young military aide on the staff of British General Edward Braddock at that time. Braddock led an army against a French fort near what is now Pittsburgh. His army forded the river at Little Crossings and also retreated back over the same spot after they were defeated by the French. After the French were driven out of North America, Joseph Tomlinson built the first inn several miles east of Little Crossings. The ford and the road that crossed it linked Cumberland, MD to the Ohio River. It became a busy thoroughfare traveled by those heading west.
During the early 1800’s, the federal government began a program of internal improvementsn that included road construction. The goal of the National Road project was upgrading Braddock’s Road. The Casselman River Bridge was part of that project. When it was built in 1813, the 80-foot span single arch stone bridge was the largest of its kind in the United States. It is reported that it was made longer than it necessary in hopes that the planned Chesapeake and Ohio Canal would pass under it. A celebration was held at the bridge on the day that the supporting timbers were removed. Some thought the bridge would collapse without the supports. To their surprise, the bridge did not collapse. Little Crossings rapidly developed into a bustling hub of commerce and transportation. Stage coaches, wagons, horsemen and foot travelers utilized the new bridge. More buildings popped up, including a store, and another inn, which remains today, as Penn Alps Restaurant.
The advent of the railroads in the 1840’s brought the nation cheaper option for travel. The National Road was less used but was revived in the early 20th century when federal funds became available for the road development to accommodate the automobile. The bridge continued in service until U.S. Route 40 also became an important east-west artery, just as the National Road had been. A new steel bridge joined the banks of the Casselman River in 1933. The old stone bridge was partially restored in the mid-1950’s becoming the focal point of for the state park.
Offering a picnic area with public rest rooms, the four acre park is an ideal spot to appreciate the outdoors. Pets are permitted on a leash. Within a short walk, you'll find Penn Alps and Cornucopia Cafe - two favorite local restaurants. Also located a long the river is Grant's Mercantile offering a unique shopping experience. Casselman River Bridge State Park offers everyone an opportunity to experience a picturesque relic of our nation’s early transportation history along with the natural beauty Western Maryland is known for.
For Casselman River Bridge State Park hours and more information, visit http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/western/casselman.aspx or call 301-895-5453.
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