Cumberland’s Lover’s Leap is a compact notched valley, or water gap, that Will’s Creek has carved into Will’s and Haystack mountains. A water gap is an opening or notch which flowing water has carved through a mountain range. Water gaps often offer a practical route for roads and railroads to cross a mountain ridge.
A water gap is usually an indication of a river that is older than the current topography. The river likely established its course when the landform was at a low elevation, with a very low stream gradient and a thick layer of unconsolidated sediment. The river therefore established its channel without regard for the deeper layers of rock.
A later period of uplift caused increased erosion along the river-bed, exposing the underlying rock layers. As the uplift continued, the river continued to erode the rising land, cutting through ridges as they form.
The Lovers' Leap legend in Cumberland involved a daughter of an Indian chief and a white mother, and Jack Chadwick, a white hunter. The chief, for financial reasons, really wanted his daughter to marry, instead of the hunter, a white officer from the nearby fort instead of the hunter. After Jack became lucky and discovered silver on his property, he thought that his problems were behind him because he had now become wealthy. Jack confidently went to the chief, and again asked for his daughter's hand in marriage. The chief not only refused, but attacked Jack with a club, and, in the struggle, the chief was killed by a stone thrown by the young suitor. The girl, being distraught over the death of her father whom she loved very dearly, now knew that she could never be happy in marriage to a man who had killed her father. The legend concluded that Jack and the princess leaped, hand in hand, to their deaths.
The Cumberland Narrows has played an important part in Western Maryland history, as it provided a natural break in the Appalachian Mountains that stretched north/south through the region. Formed thousands of years ago, the Narrows is a one mile water gap dominated at the lowest elevation by Wills creek and transportation arteries, while its highest elevations feature the spectacular beauty of Tuscarora and Juniata sandstone formations. A stream began eroding the water gap across Wills Mountain and surrounding weaker rocks were eroded into the valley, thereby causing a 1000 foot gorge. While visitors and local residents today appreciate the Narrows for its natural beauty, significant events that occurred there have dimmed with the passing of time. Cumberland's narrows is unique because it combines natural history with political, economic, and military events that have determined the course of our nation since 1755. Read more in "The Cumberland Narrows: Portal To The National Road" by Dan Whetzel.
To log this cache:
- Post a picture of you and your GPS standing next to the water gap with Will’s Mountain in the background.
- Estimate the width of the water gap.
- If Jack and the princess jumped from the cliff directly overhead, approximately how far did they fall?
- Are the rocks that formed Lover's Leap igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary? How do you know?
- Please describe the color and the texture of the rocks at this location.
Harold Scott, Sr. (Compiler), Legends of Allegany County, Cumberland, Maryland, 1994, p.vi.
“Water gap." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 5 Oct 2009, 05:12 UTC. 18 Nov 2009 .