Kalsi Engineering employee discovers lost history of Fort Cumberland


Many customers know that Kalsi Engineering employee Lannie Dietle has discovered numerous improvements to our rotary seals and our seal implementation practices. Few know that he is also a historian who has made several important discoveries concerning early events in western Maryland and Pennsylvania.

His second history book, released in December, 2016 by the Cumberland Heritage Foundation, is titled “Fort Cumberland: The Missing Years”. All proceeds from sales of this 556-page book are donated to the foundation, an organization dedicated to the discovery and interpretation of historic resources in the mountains of western Maryland.

Cumberland, Maryland was long known as Fort Cumberland, as a result of being located at the site of that 1754 colonial fort. The town is located along the Potomac River in western Maryland, near several important mountain passes. Long before the town began in the mid-1780s, these simple geographical influences made the area an important gateway to the west for packhorse traffic related to early trade, warfare, and settlement. As a trading post, a military post, a transportation hub, and as a nascent commercial center, the Fort Cumberland region played a significant role in North America’s early history.

The research that led to the new book began with an internet-based group discussion of William H. Lowdermilk’s 1878 book “History of Cumberland…” That discussion led to the realization that as good as it is, Lowdermilk’s book has a significant gap in the coverage of regional history between the Seven Years War and the founding of the town. From ongoing conversations, it became clear that this gap left some of the history-minded public with the mistaken impression that not much really happened in the environs of Fort Cumberland during the 1758 to 1785 time period. Mr. Dietle knew from his previous research that Fort Cumberland had been a busy supply center during the Revolutionary War, and felt there had to be more to the history of the region than people realized. He began to explore the period in more depth by developing a white paper on the subject. The kind reception that paper received encouraged him to continue his research, and develop it into book form.

In addition to covering the 1758 to 1785 time period, Mr. Dietle’s book documents settlement in the region at the onset of the Seven Years War, and a sudden depopulation that occurred as a result of the war. The book also expands well-beyond Lowdermilk’s Cumberland-centric coverage of the war, presenting a long-forgotten chain of events that began deep in the Ohio River drainage basin in the 1740s, and ultimately led to open warfare in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Dietle graduated from California University of Pennsylvania at age 20, and has worked 43 years in the petroleum industry. For the past 34 years he has been employed with Kalsi Engineering, Inc., where he has been awarded 35 U.S. patents related to oilfield technology. His thorough approach to research and development guides his evidence-based approach to historical writing.

Fort Cumberland: The Missing Years
Mr. Dietle’s new book fills several gaps in the history of Cumberland, by showing that the region had settlers at the onset of the Seven Years War, by presenting truly ground-breaking coverage of the root causes of that war, and by taking a giant first step at documenting the history of the region between the fall of Fort Duquesne and the founding of the town. He hopes that it will be a catalyst to future discovery and understanding.

 

Photo of Lannie Dietle
Mr. Dietle in his office, holding a four pound cannon ball he keeps on his desk as a conversation piece. This is the size of cannon that was present at Fort Cumberland in 1755.