After Six Years, Popular Center Re-Opens to Travelers

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford and Western Maryland officials today had the pleasure of officially re-opening the Sideling Hill Welcome Center, which has been closed to the public for the past six years. The grand re-opening comes in advance of Oakland, Maryland’s 47th Annual Autumn Glory Festival. The visitor center is a gateway to Western Maryland – home to history, innovation, beauty, and adventure. Tourism specialists who staff the center are trained to inform visitors of the wealth of travel-related options throughout scenic Washington, Garrett, and Allegany counties.

The Lt. Governor was joined by the President of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, Wayne Keefer; Hancock Mayor, Daniel A. Murphy; President of the Allegany County Commissioners, William Valentine; President of the Garrett County Commissioners, Paul Edwards; President of the Washington County Commissioners, Terry Baker; and Senator George Edwards, District 1.

“Re-opening the Sideling Hill Welcome Center does more than signify the return of this popular attraction in Western Maryland,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “What we’re doing today demonstrates the Hogan-Rutherford administration’s commitment to opening doors to business growth and development in Maryland. The center was closed for almost six years to cut costs, and its opening will reap economic benefits for businesses throughout Western Maryland.”

“The center’s staff provides travel information that directs visitors to the small businesses located just off the highway, and is a valuable marketing asset for the region,” said Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy.

“Western Maryland is blessed with many tourist attractions that are unique to the state. The re-opening of the Sideling Hill Welcome Center provides visitors with the information that they need to discover the many restaurants, shops, and attractions they can visit, which in turn provides economic benefit to the residents of this beautiful area,” said Senator George Edwards, District 1.

The Sideling Hill Welcome Center is at the site where the mountain was blasted in the early 1980s to make way for I-68. The blast exposed rocks that are hundreds of millions of years old. Researchers travel from all over the world to take advantage of the rock formation's easy access. The center has a geological time spiral to show the Earth’s history.

The welcome center operates Thursday through Monday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and is closed on major holidays. The rest area is open 24 hours a day, from May to December. The opening comes just six weeks after state officials attending the Maryland Association of County Officials Conference received requests to re-open the center. The Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) and the Office of Tourism Development worked quickly to prepare the center for visitors. SHA owns and maintains the center while the Office of Tourism operates and staffs the buildings.



(SHA photo: View of Western Maryland mountains as seen from the Sideling Hill Welcome Center.)