Sideling Hill Mountain, with an elevation of 2,301 feet, gives a great scenic view from the top looking into some of the westward purple mountain ridges toward Cumberland, Maryland. For the mountain-loving traveler this is the road to travel for four more mountains rise up in the short distance to Cumberland, as the snaking I-68 wiggles and twists across Town Hill, Green Ridge, Polish and Martins Mountains. In rare times, while crossing these high mountains, a traveler can appear to be driving “in the clouds.” This region is not for the faint-hearted or height sensitive.
An eastward gaze shows Hancock, Maryland, miles away and the mountain top view looks even into West Virginia. Considering this view it seemed a great site to build the Sideling Hill Exhibit Center complete with travel information and restrooms for the motorist.
Beginning The Dig
Excavation and construction began in 1983 with a 380 foot deep notch cutting into the mountain ridge to make room for I-68. According to some, this cut gives some of the best rock exposures in the northeastern United States. In freezing winter the “cut” bleeds great hanging frozen icycles from the weeping exposure that with the right light angles causes prisms to dance like angels.
A pedestrian walk-way bridge crosses both east and westbound lanes to connect the rest areas. A stroller can get an even better view of the great trucks below dragging their heavy trailers, tires pounding away as the gears growl and brakes groan in their never-ending journeys. Beyond the fast moving interstate highway, the sunset burns a fire into the quiet peaceful sky the same as it has for thousands of years while the mountain was untouched and sleeping.
Completing The Task
Construction for the Sideling Hill Exhibit Center took 16 months to complete and cost millions. Pounds of explosives rocked and tore into Sideling Hill Mountain as tons of rocks shifted from their ancient home.
The Sideling Hill Exhibit Center center opened in 1985.
In 2009 this Sideling Hill Exhibit Center served 95,000 visitors and cost $110,000 to operate according to some research. This year there was talk of needed budget cuts that finally closed the exhibit center. Now only the restrooms are open along with a kiosk with some travel info.