The photo below was provided by Mike McKenzie. The photo is one of a number that were rescued from some Cumberland, Maryland area trash a number of years ago by one of Mike's friends.
The subject of the photo was originally reported to be the Cumberland Brewing Company along Wills Creek, and the bridge site was reported as being at or near market street. In January, 2011 the following correction was received from someone who is very familiar with the area from his childhood:
In searching the internet, I found your web page of vintage pictures of Cumberland, Maryland. First, let me thank you for posting these. I'm not quite as vintage as the pictures, born in Cumberland in 1961, but the library of photos still serve to take me back to an idealized place and time of growing up.
I wished to talk to you about photo image "024". The photo depicts the northeast wall of the Queen City Brewing company complex, not the Cumberland Brewing Company brewery. Mr. McKenzie is absolutely correct regarding the location. This is Wills Creek, prior to the flood control project, and the bridge is the Market Street bridge. The Cumberland Brewing Company facility was a smaller, much more elegant Victorian facility that was located a bit to the northeast off of Centre Street and Queen City Boulevard. Here my historical certainty is a bit shaky, but I believe it was constructed of a mustard-buff brick. The Cumberland Brewing Company's flagship brand was "Old Export".
The Queen City Brewery, flagship brand being Old German Lager, was a rambling, monstrous red brick affair, devoid of any elegance, but absolutely fascinating in every other way. Pieced together over time, the complex was a sort of drawn-out "U"-shape, with the high brick walls forming an "urban canyon" effect. The storefront in the photo at the foot of the bridge I believe housed the company offices. The brew house is the structure to the far left, the opening to the "urban canyon" between. The Queen City brewery was wedged into a sliver of a site, hard against Wills Creek to the northeast, and Western Maryland Railway right of way to the west. The entrance into the brewery's "urban canyon" was a narrow drive down a steep ramp off of Market Street between the viaduct over the WM Rwy tracks, and the Wills Creek bridge. Opposite across Market Street was the "modern" bottling plant and warehouse, which apparently (according to Google Maps) still exists.
This all was located at a wye formed by the intersection of Cumberland Street and Market Street, below the prominence upon which was located the St. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, school, monastery, and convent, castle-like with its high limestone retaining wall bending around the turn in Cumberland Street. I know this location well. Cumberland was an idealic place to grow up in the 60s and early 70s. Boys could embark upon day-long adventures, roaming miles astride their pride-n-joy bicycles, with no thought to the dangers that trouble our world today. I spent many an hour with my chums there at the foot of the Queen City brewery, standing on the railroad viaduct, competing over who could successfully spit between the train cars the most, as the train passed beneath. When I'd heard my father and grandfather speak fondly of "simpler times" as a child, I paid no attention. Now, I understand.
I was also treated to several informal tours of the Queen City Brewery. My folks were transplanted Missourians, by way of west Texas, arriving in Cumberland in 1960. My Dad was a mechanical engineer at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory out in Rocket City. As a young child, our home was at the uppermost crest of Washington Street. Next door lived Dr. Les Kiefer, a pathologist, who was related, by marriage I believe, to Mr. Bill Williams, a prominent Cumberland lawyer (who lived a couple of blocks down the hill). Mr. Williams was in turn, related by family or marriage to the ownership of the QCB. Dr. Kiefer always had a fresh keg of Old German in what I know now to be a "Keggerator", and it drew my Dad like a moth to a flame. My Dad and Dr. Kiefer became great friends. My father owed him his life from 1968 until Dad's death in 1980, Dr. Kiefer diagnosing Dad with cancer, rather than simply disk trouble for which Dad was being treated. They would organize legendary 4th of July parties, neighborhood block parties of the old school. I say legendary in reference to one particular 4th of July party, the one that made the papers. The festivities had begun mid-morning. Fortified by a liberal flow of Old German from Dr. Kiefer's basement, an informal parade ensued, led by a "colonial color guard" marching along Washington Street, whistling Yankee Doodle. In the afternoon came the feast. As dusk settled in, the crowd would swell in anticipation of the fireworks to come. Our back yards were situated such that we could all look out across the valley, and watch the city fireworks at Constitution Park. There were also, other, fireworks on the agenda. This one particular 4th, while we waited in anticipation of the city fireworks, a bat swooped in on the party. Neighbor women commenced to screaming (my mother one of them) that "it's in my hair, it's in my hair!" Dr. Kiefer grabbed his 12 gauge shotgun, and began taking pot shots at the bat. Little did we know that the shotgun pellets were raining down on the Hudson gas station, below on Green Street. The bat made a hasty exit, and all calmed down for a bit. Dad, being the "missile man" of the assembled was tending to the set-up of the (illegal) fireworks Dr. Kiefer had provided. All would have been good, but then that darn bat made another appearance... "It's in my hair! It's in my hair!" Blam! Blam! Blam, the shotgun rang out again, and the bat exited. This time, the shotgun pellets rained down onto a police cruiser, summoned to the Hudson station by the attendant. I'm sitting next to my Mom, me astride my beloved Schwinn where our driveway met the back yard, and young, visibly shaking Cumberland police officer passes next to me, revolver in-hand. Well, the party was over at that point. The shotgun had already returned to its place, beside the keg of Old German. My Dad was on a lower terrace, ready to fire the rockets on-order, and was promptly taken into custody for the breach of the public peace. Dr. Kiefer and Mr. Williams "went down town" and "straightened everything out", and soon Dad was home to a very disapproving mother of mine. But the next day came Mother's ultimate embarrassment. Dr. Kiefer came in with a copy of Cumberland's little scandal-rag newspaper, I don't recall its name Emblazoned across the front page in 2-inch type... "BUST AT THE BEYER BAR-B-QUE BLOWOUT". Mother was mortified. The article outlined in entirety the day's events, from impromptu parade to bat blasting, and was festooned with the record of Dad's arrest, as well as interviews with some of the less-friendly neighbors and the "still shaken" Hudson station attendant. I'd pay thousands for a copy of that scandal sheet today, documentation to preserve for the generations to come of a bit of our "colorful" family history. I don't believe we made the Cumberland Times, much to Mother's relief... perhaps the police blotter.
I did digress a bit. Mr. Bill Williams and my Dad also served as ushers for Emanuel Episcopal Church, and while not buddies, were good friends. My Dad looked up to Mr. Williams quite respectfully. They did enjoy a friendly relationship, a relationship that led to several informal tours of the Queen City brewery. In the building contiguous to the rear of the storefront in the photograph, there was an ice house, a sideline business to the brewery. The day before embarking on fishing trips down to Potomac to Paw Paw, or along the C&O Canal, Dad & I would go to the QCB for block ice. These instances were when I first experienced that "urban canyon" effect inside the brewery complex. I suppose Mr. Williams had left word with management, so when time permitted Dad and I were given tours of the brewery. My most crystalline memory was once when the brewery steam whistle blew. All the men stopped working. Bottles of the product were handed around, and promptly consumed by the workman. My inquiry as to to what was happening was answered by our guide... "union break, 20 minutes, twice a day". Drinking on the job not only sanctioned but provided, it was certainly a different time.
I'm not a Cumberland historian, or a brewery historian. I'm a model railroader, which is what brought me through the internet to photo 024. My model railroad is a sort of a synthesis of my life's happy experiences, a stage upon which I relive "simpler times". I must include a Cumberland brewery. What I am building is not an exact model of either, but more an amalgamation of the two. My Queen City Brewery will incorporate some of the elegant architecture of the Cumberland Brewing Company brewery and mustard-buff brick, with the rambling massiveness of the Queen City brewery, and of course, it's "urban canyon". Just yesterday, I received the injection-molded chimney for my model brewery complex. I was trying to recall what type of font I should utilize to spell out "Queen City Brewing Co", as I recall dimly was lettered down the prototype. When photo 024 appeared on my computer screen, that piece of the puzzle was solved. I am ever so grateful to you for posting these vintage Cumberland photographs.
James Wolf writes, "Photo 24 has been re-identified correctly by Mr. Beyer, but the official he names is not Williams, it is Wilson. William L. Wilson was President of Queen City. I also knew the gentleman. Memory sometimes plays tricks..."
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