Negro Mountain History

Source: Western Maryland Regional Library -

Western Maryland’s Historical Library: 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.

One evening while cleaning his weapon, Nemesis told Cresap that he would not be coming back. Cresap thought Nemesis was afraid, or going to runaway. He “jestingly” offered Nemesis the opportunity to remain behind with the women if he was afraid. Nemesis replied he was not scared, but simply stating a fact. Cresap’s party pursued the Indians over present-day Savage and Meadow Mountains, to the next mountain where a fierce battle ensured. Nemesis fought bravely, was killed, and buried on the site.

Cresap named the mountain in honor of Nemesis’ race and it has ever since been known as “Negro Mountain.” Nemesis was said to have been a large and powerfully built man. “Negro Mountain” remains a memorial and historic tribute to the presence of this black frontiersman.

Based upon research undertaken by historian Francis Zumbrun, a letter sent to the Maryland Gazette in 1756 by Thomas Cresap explains the naming of the mountain. It states that it was a free black man who had accompanied his volunteer rangers during the French and Indian War and who had died heroically in the battle while saving Cresap’s life. Zumbrun, a retired forester for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and local historian, also notes that the mountain is named in honor of one of the earliest “free” black frontiersman on record in American colonial history.

Continue reading “Negro Mountain” at Western Maryland’s Historical Library.

* * *

Photo by By J. J. Prats, August 11, 2006

Negro Mountain: The Highest Point on the National Road

“…The Naming of Negro Mountain. Nemesis, a black frontiersman, was killed here while fighting Indians with Maryland frontiersman Thomas Cresap in the 1750s. Legend tells us that he had a premonition of his death. In his honor, they named this mountain after him.”

Continue reading “Negro Mountain: The Highest Point on the National Road” at The Historical Marker Database.

* * *

View west from Negro Mountain highpoint. (Photo credit: Negro Mountain


In July 2007, Pennsylvania State Representative Rosita C. Youngblood (Democrat of Philadelphia’s 198th District) called for the renaming of Negro Mountain. In a news release, she said, “Through a school project, my son and granddaughter first informed me of the name of this range and I found it to be disparaging that we have one of our great works of nature named as such… I find it disheartening for tourists who visit this range to see the plaque with the name Negro Mountain displayed on the mountainside.” However, Professor Christopher Bracey, a law professor and associate professor of African and African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis has said, “I must confess I have a slightly different take on it than [Youngblood]… Here we have a mountain, whose name was intended to be a testament to Negro bravery. It seems rather crass and unsophisticated to name it Negro Mountain, but the intentions were strong.”[5][6] On 1 August 2007, Youngblood and other lawmakers introduced House Resolution No. 378 [7] resolving that the governor “form a commission …to study the naming of Negro Mountain and Mount Davis …[to] adopt names that accurately reflect the history of the region and the heroism displayed by the African American in the Negro Mountain conflict of 1756” and accordingly to alter “brochures, plaques and signs [to] accurately reflect the facts of this heroic historical event”.

Continue reading “Negro Mountain” at

This entry was posted in Black History, Roadside Attractions, Urban Legends. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Negro Mountain History

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Negro Mountain History | Baltimore Or Less --

  2. michael miller El says:

    It should be changed to Moorish Mountain because this isone of the Moorish empires in which the invaders have hid this Truth that will come out with dire consequences on the concealers as written in Isaiah 65:15-16 ,remember the battle of lake Erie . We Moors not slave labeled Negro , black , colored ,African.

  3. davidbrown says:

    Ithink it should keep its name tohonor, t,hme black men who gave lives,,, please find somethingelse that need more attention ,,than removeing the name of avery famous place ihave been there ,its beautiful please dont disturb. … my kids andgrand kids learn alot 2days we spent there more than what they taught them in school there’s a lot of black kids and adults that this exist

  4. deb woodley says:

    I doubt that the man being honored thought of himself as a Moor, lol, so that bit of revisionism is kinda silly. Negro was considered the proper, respectful way to refer to African Americans, or whatever they are being called since breakfast… I mean, what are you gonna do, change the name every time society decides to change the language? Get a grip. People CAN deal with things like this, lol!!! When did our society become such a nation of wussies?

    • Real Hebrew says:

      @Deb Woodley

      What you failed to grasp is the Negroes true history and heritage was taken away from during slavery

      Deuteronomy 28:68 And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.

      Deuteronomy 28:48 Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

      No other race of people fit these curses….

      These curses were to happen to the true children of Israel or Israelites who are also known as Moors during the Dark Ages. So in response to your statement our names where changed to negro by the slavemasters (whites) when we got off those slave ships; how convient wouldn’t you say?

    • Mike says:

      I’m black and I agree with you, I’m proud to be black and however it’s define

  5. Leroy says:

    Haha He said Negro

  6. little blue says:

    I guess if you complain enough, you can remove even history. The mountain was named in great honor, not just for the man, but, his whole race. This country is sinking lower and lower every day. Obama offends loads of people,but, he’s still here, unfortunately.

    • Memah says:

      The white american society has been offending races for years. Thats no secret. Ive never been anywhere in the world that describes a street or any other label as ” cracker valley, Caucasian mountain, or white trash street….not to be offensive but it sounds stupid. If they were representing him why didn’t they just name the mountain “Neimises Mountain” then tell us his story. Im tired of all the names whites give other races, maybe its time to give back the lands to the people they belong to.

  7. Jeff Carroll says:

    I feel the name pays tribute to the black pioneers who fought along side Nemesis. So I say leave the name and teach the history. Then read my book It Happened on Negro Mountain.

  8. Thanks for the heads up on your novel, I’ll check it out.

  9. Jack says:

    I came across the name of the mountain about 10 years ago. It was puzzling to me, at the very least put a medal history sign stating why, when and how about the name. History does not mean anything if it is not explain. Put the sign up or change the name to the man’s name. Use some common sense.

  10. Sam says:

    How about African-American Mountain?

  11. Maurice says:

    Come on, people! It wouldn’t be offensive if you explain WHY it was named so. How hard is it to actually give some history? Sheesh!

  12. HFM says:

    I live here, change the name and I’ll put the sign back up every night, it is a memorial, and history, get over it!

  13. Thrasher says:

    Saw it driving to KY and was curious about the name

  14. Bridgette M. Brinson says:

    It says it was named after Nemesis so do it. So it called negro mountain because he was considered a Negro????
    In 1700’s were we even called Negros???

  15. Lona says:

    Oh my do people not have nothing left to do but argue, back then is just the way of life, I think the black race has accomplished alot, who is president, Barack Obama, an I think myself is a great man, with what he had to work with, an think of what women went through didn’t we have to fight to vote? I could have swore men treated white women like dogs back then an still do, so there is no race no different, we are all either man or woman, that’s it, an The rest needs to be left alone. I don’t care what color you are we are all brothers an sisters, who need to wake up an stop all the crazyness for one day you will be judged

  16. Rick says:

    I live about 40 miles north of this mountain range. Up until now I never knew the story of the naming of the mountain. I have read the comments that people have posted and as expected there are pros and cons of the name. However, if everyone actually would read the story of the naming of this mountain they would see this was named in honor of the race of Nemesis and there was no such word as “African American” in 1756. Who knows, 100 years from now, African American may be considered derogatory. Anyway, this is the 21st century, when will everyone be considered people and not segregated separately by race?

  17. Bobby says:

    What people are not understanding is the fact that black people in this time couldn’t own property or have anything in their name. They had to have a white guardian to own anything. I’m sure it would have been named Nemesis Mountain if the law would have allowed it at the time. With that said, because we don’t live in the 18th century anymore, the name should reflect his name, not his race. He was a man fighting for his fellow man.

  18. EVMaitlandt says:

    While driving, I saw the sign for “Negro Mountain” and wondered how did that happen? Then I read the history behind the naming of the mountain. Inasmuch as it was named “Negro Mountain” with good intentions at the time it was named, I’m in agreement with the position that renaming the range “Nemesis Mountain” should be considered at this point in time. There have been similar renaming for historic places in other parts of the country, namely Alaska, where “Mt. McKinley” was changed back to “Denali” the name the people who live there wanted.

  19. Kelli says:

    History is history, good,bad, ugly and indifferent. We cannot change it but we sure as heck can learn from it. It would be a different story if the mountain was given that name today, but it was named ovet 200 years ago as tribute to a great man with nothing but honor and respect from the man who named it. That’s the history. Embrace it, learn from it and make today better because of it. Eventually someone will be reading about today as history…we can make it as ugly or as lovely and powerful as we chose.

  20. Tracy says:

    I think it should have been given the name of the person it was representing and not the race of any person. There would be no debates at all because it would be a persons name. I agree with the previous person that stated we are all a part of a human race,not by color.

  21. Polly Etymology says:

    The mountain range, in Europe, is actually labeled as Caucasus. Again the public school system fails and no one researches or takes issue with any information presented with no attribution.

  22. Gronk says:

    I remember overhearing a guy at work referring to Negro Mountain as “Nigger Mountain.” I’m sure that is a common reference among the crass and ignorant class. At the time, I did not know the history of this mountain or the events that led to its naming at the time.
    This points to where we stand as a nation today. You have a segment of the population that participates in this crass name calling that in all likelihood voted for Donald Trump. It was fairly evident that Trump recognized that there were enough of these people that are feeling impotent politically. He appealed to their inner racist and laughed all the way to the White House. What these working class people don’t realize is that Donald Trump used them and their prejudices to ride all the way to the top. He could care less about poor/middle class white people. He looks out for the rich and the corporations. They are finding out that Donald Trump is acting very niggardly when it comes to them. (Look up the word niggardly if you don’t know what it really means).

  23. Anonymous says:

    Negro mountain is fine, but it should have been named after Nemesis the real hero in this story as it’s told. To Name it Negro mountain might tell the story of how a group of Negro’s fought to save this settlement. Soles e the name and tell the real story.

  24. Jean says:

    I saw the sign yesterday for the first time as I was traveling home to Pittsburgh. I must say that after I read the history of that mountain, I am so proud and pleased. There is merit on both sides of the question of whether it should have been renamed to this gentleman. Perhaps so, but it wasn’t and if a person takes the time to read why there is a place called “Negro Mountain”, then they too will understand its purpose. As the person who is responsible every year at my church for giving information on Black History month, I am delighted to be able to add this to the list of topics to speak about. I really believe that there wouldn’t be a need for a separate account of Black history if it was included in our history books in school appropriately. I enjoyed reading all these comments because I learned things. I especially liked and agree completely with the person who wrote about the ignorant people that use crass names regarding the name of this mountain and who most likely look to the person in the White House and don’t even realize that they are being duped big time by him!

  25. BOBBY FLOYD says:

    Keep the name
    Keep the name
    Beautiful name. I am a Black American
    Keep the name

  26. JJules says:

    Yes, keep the name. It is American history good bad and ugly.

  27. Leonard Faulcon says:

    I understand now. I’m a OTR trucker and I’ve taken picture ma of the sign along I68 in Maryland.
    I like the name now that I know the history.

  28. C.J STEWART says:

    Traveling to Monrovia, Md. on Thanksgiving Eve.,GPS threw us back on the 43S/68 rte. Being very leery of my surroundings already, when I saw the sign “NEGRO MOUNTAIN” a chill went through my body! I was definitely determined to research this land mark. Glad I did! Now, come on if this had been named anything else, this conversation wouldn’t even be taking place! how about…BLACK MOUNTAIN..NEMESIS’ LAST STAND????…WHO WOULD BOTHER TO LOOK THIS UP??? We also saw signs referring to POLLOCKS and GERMANS along this route. I now am interested in the diversity of ancestral history in this area. HOW ABOUT YOU, A…MERI…CANS???!!!

  29. Calvin says:

    African Americans(Negroes at an earlier time in our past) have contributed to the development of this continent and our nation since its inception. When I drive past the sign on I-65 stating that you’re on Negro Mountain I smile and feel pride in the fact that ALL of my ancestors contributed in many ways to our past and present greatness. The Scotch-Irish, the African, the Swiss-German, etc. None lesser than the other.

  30. ken Appel says:


  31. Tom K says:

    Entitled white male here who had a home on Deep Creek and one in Arlington, VA. I drove over Negro Mtn. weekly. I thought its history was interesting and was again glad that I live now and not then. Since I am not a person of color it’s hard for me to understand any negativity about this mountain’s name, particularly knowing the story behind it. It seems a bit different to me than the statues of Rbt. E. Lee and others that are being removed that profess the south will rise again and other racist slogans. I understand why folks want them removed, though I cringe and expunging history of any kind. It “whitwashes” events if you will. Pretty soon we end up with, “the Nazis weren’t so bad now that we’ve erased the genocide. Yanno what I mean?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.