It is a national monument many people have never heard of. It’s name has been a bone of contention to some Black Americans. One has even lobbied for a name change of this landmark.

It is known as Negro Mountain.

I have known of Negro Mountain for many years.

Many stories have been told about the history of Negro Mountain, but, the one that persists, and that many people all agree on, is that a large, powerfully built enslaved Black man valiantly distinguished himself in battle with the Native Americans who attacked the party with which he was traveling. Thereafter, the mountain on which he died and was hastily buried in an unmarked grave, became known as Negro Mountain.

“The most commonly accepted historical account as to how Negro Mountain received its name can be traced to the 1750s. Colonel Thomas Cresap and his black body-servant, “Nemesis”, were tracking a group of American Indians who some say had attacked a settlement near present-day Oldtown in Allegany County. It was said a family had been murdered and horses stolen. Others write Nemesis was requested to accompany a ranging party that regularly scouted the frontier in order to protect homes from attack. Either way, Nemesis had a premonition he would not return.”



“John Hyatt, one of the early settlers, was a native of Maryland. He came with several others, accompanied by a number of slaves, to Turkey-Foot soon after-the settlement began. While crossing the Negro mountain, a party of Indians fired upon them and mortally wounded one of the negroes, the strongest man in the company. A piece of a hollow log was found and placed over the negro to shelter him. Throwing it off, he said, ” Save yourselves and never mind me; I shall die soon.” It is said that the Negro Mountain took its name from this circumstance.” SOURCE

For more than 200 years, the mountain has been known as Negro Mountain.

Many people who have driven past the mountain, unaware of its existence, have done double-takes (and have been shocked) upon reading the signs directing them to the mountain’s location, where it winds along the ridge extending thirty miles from Deep Creek lake in Garrett County to the Casselman River in Pennsylvania. The Garrett County portion of the ridge is the highest along U.S. Alternate Route 40, (3,075 feet at its peak). In Somerset County, Pennsylvania, it is the highest point in the state. Driviing along Dunghill Road, past Amish Road, heading towards Bowman Hill road, you will encounter Negro Mountain as these young ladies did:


The U.S. Alternate 40 portion of Negro Mountain, is popular among travelers heading west to Morgantown, W.Va., or south to Deep Creek Lake. In addition to Negro Mountain,there is also the Negro Mountain Trail System: eight miles of challenging stream and terrain crossings that is part of the Savage River State Forest.

Negro mountain winds along a route that is part of the National Historic Road, which covers six states (824 miles) from Maryland to Illinois. Three years ago, Maryland’s National Historic Road officials upgraded the Negro Mountain site by installing a marker detailing the origins of its name.

Strangely enough,  Negro Mountain is not listed on many road maps, and unless you’re driving through Garrett County, you might have never heard of it, and would pass by it if not for the road marker listing its location and history.

File:Negro mountain.jpg
View from Negro Mountain (Mt. Davis highpoint) looking towards Laurel Ridge to the west. (March 2007)

Photo:  Joe Calzarette




Top of Negro Mountain along US 40, 1938

Photo by Lois Reed



Summit of Negro Mountain, highest point on the National Road, 72 years later



Negro Mountain Trail System

8.0 miles
Savage River State Forest 301-895-5759
Located N.E. of Accident, Maryland
Steep slopes along powerlines, some wet areas & stream crossingsmap keytrail map





There is also a tunnel that passes through Negro Mountain.

Built by the New York Central Railroad as part of the stillborn South Pennsylvania Railroad, in time it became known as “Vanderbilt’s Folly”. The tunnel is located near milepost 116.7 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike where it is ten miles east of the Quemahoning Tunnel (also built for South Penn but never used by the Turnpike), 16 miles east of the Laurel Hill Tunnel (used by the Turnpike but bypassed in 1964), and seven miles west of Allegheny Mountain Tunnel currently used by the Turnpike.

There is also a marker that registers Negro Mountain with the Historic National Road marker series, with Negro Mountain as the highest point on the National Road:


Negro Mountain Marker


I can understand State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood’s  fight to have the name of Negro Mountain changed.

In this day of the need for self identity and less disparaging terms that have been used to described Black Americans, sure, the name can certainly rub some people the wrong way. Also, Polish Mountain is located in Allegheny County, Maryland, and I am sure there are some people who have a problem with a mountain named after the Poles.

But, if the there is to be a name change, it would have to be after the actual name of the man whom the mountain is named for.


Not known, is that in the most ironic and disrespectful displays shown towards Nemesis is that the mountain itself is actually named Mount Davis.

That in itself should be enough to boil the blood that this mountain that was named after a brave Black man should bear the name of a man who did not fight to save anyone who was in danger of losing their life. To give this mountain area the name of the man who owned land on it, instead of the enslaved Black man who fought bravely, is more egregious to me than the name given during a time when “Negro/negro” is what Black Americans were called.

The real insult is that Negro Mountain is not shown on a map to recognize the Black man, Nemesis, who was courageous in his fight to save his party, and his memory should no longer be slighted, but remembered, for it is because of him that Negro Mountain is so named.

But, efforts have been underway to right that wrong.

The Baltimore African American Heritage & Attractions Guide lists Negro Mountain.

Albert Feldstein is also working to enlighten people on not just the knowledge of Negro Mountain, but, also on the history of Black Americans who live in Allegany County, Maryland.

Negro Mountain.

Named after a Black man who even though enslaved, put his life on the line.

That he gave his life should no longer be relegated to historical amnesia.

That he fought even while in bondage should never be forgotten.


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14 responses to “NEGRO MOUNTAIN

  1. gregory

    we so much of changing history, it’s never done with forward thinking and we never – ever really know what it is we are changing. I am a black male from the south. If you want to change something that may be insulting. change something that you own – the NAACP(“colored people”)

    • Monique Epps

      I totally agree with you on the NAACP… I am biracial (Mulatto, term doesn’t bother me) woman and I don’t get offended by the word Negro its origin is in the word Negroid which is one of three of the true genetic racial groups. Scientifically its used. It doesn’t bother me. Now, go to Australia where they have Nig!!!r River, Street etc. and they MEAN it to be derogatory. My2cents.


  3. Hank Bayer

    To the two girls in this video….when you say, “We are Negroes”, you should say, we are two very attractive Negroes. Negro women are very attractive to me and are very eye appealing in general. I only wish that they would stop the “black talk”, ie, I be, he be, and speak mainline English just like all of the new Asian immigrants. The nonsensical grammar is a turnoff, a total turnoff.

  4. Albert L. Feldstein

    Someone pointed out that my name and project was referenced in this article. Thank you. You might want to check out the website we developed in partnership with the non-profit Western Maryland Regional Library (WHILBR). It is entitled “Allegany County, Maryland African-American History” but also includes information from nearby counties and West Virginia. Thanks. Here is the link:

    MODERATOR: Mr. Feldstein,I am honored to include your efforts to bring the history of Negro Mountain and the Black citizens of Allegany County, Maryland to the rest of the world’s attention. Thank you for your comments, and thank you for stopping by.

  5. LauraC68

    Please don’t change the name of Negro Mountain. There is nothing offensive about that name, I think it’s honorable and a fine tribute. We’re politically correcting ourselves out of existence! It’s a tall, proud and magnificent monument, much the man it was named after. I’m not “African American, but if I was, I’d rather be referred to as a Negro woman than a black woman, quite frankly. To me, black is about a color and no more, whereas, Negro implies something richer, a heritage. I don’t know how anyone could take offense to that!

  6. LauraC68

    Also, as a woman of Polish descent, I’m quite proud of Polish Mountain!! That area in up toward Uniontown PA where my family is from, was settled by many Poles and other ethnicities. Western PA was “culturally diverse”, long before it was cool or trendy. Leave that one alone too, please. Don’t we have other, more pressing issues to worry about at this time? Geez!!

  7. James

    My wife and i was on vacation going to Deep Creek Lake, approximately 15 years ago when we came upon the sign that said Negro Mountain. We felt then that there must be some African Amercian history behind this name. It was such a beautiful Autumn and the mountain was just breath taking. So why change the name, its the Human Race History.

  8. James

    Also with the state of Maryland having debit of over $1, 000,000,000 dollars, can’t our politician find better way’s to spend our hard earned dollar. This is sad that 10’s of thousand of dollars will be spent to try and eliminate value history


  10. Gary

    Why is the video marked as “Private” and not playable?

    MODERATOR: At the time the video was put up along with the post, it was not private, and was playable. The creator of the video may have since put a block on its viewing outside of YouTube.

  11. joann witten

    My family and i were traveling toward Wva, and saw the sign Nergo Mountain I plan to to ther soon.What a great surprise, I know alot about Black History, but never came across Nergro Mountain. I will reply again after the visit. Joann Witten

  12. Ann Marie Henderson

    I found an article on this while reading another article, wrote it down on a little piece of paper and a year later I here reading additional information on Negro Mountain. This is interesting to me and since today is my 68th birthday, I plan to put this on my things to do list for the future. Thanks to all for sharing this history.

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