In 1632, Charles I of England granted a charter that lead to the creation of the Province of Maryland, a proprietary colony. In 1696 the western part of the Province of Maryland, including the present Garrett County, was incorporated into Prince George's County. This county included six current State of Maryland counties, and by repeated splitting, new ones were created:
When the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad came through the area in 1851 the people began to take a different look at the natural resources. The railroad's arrival meant access to East Coast markets and eventually to nationwide markets. Towns grew and citizens became more prosperous, and with the new prosperity came questions about taxation and representation, as well as appropriations.
Local grumbling about lack of representation resembled the cry of 1776, "No taxation without representation!". Many prominent citizens could see beyond Cumberland, the Allegany County seat of government, to Annapolis, the State Capital, and the fact that men from Cumberland dominated as the Western Maryland representatives in the Maryland Legislature.
Around 1870, a movement to form a new county became active under the leadership of Patrick Hamill and Colonel James M. Schley. They wanted a county, separate from Allegany County, to include all the land west of Big Savage Mountain. They formed a committee in 1871 and presented a petition to the Maryland General Assembly for the division of Allegany to form a new county; two possible names for the proposed county were, Glades and Garrett.
Once more, as in 1776, printed matter helped to solidify public opinion. In August, 1871, E.S. Zevely of Oakland began the publication of a weekly newspaper called, the Glades Star. He selected Work For The New County as a slogan for his paper. Among other things in his editorials, he pointed out the fact that residents of the Districts of Allegany County to be included in proposed new county paid $28,000.00 in taxes under the existing Allegany County tax levy, but received less than $19,000.00 per year in appropriations.
Of course, Zevely's weekly editorials stirred protest in the Cumberland area, and the Cumberland News once printed a terse statement saying, "It is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire, and we think the mountaineers had better stay in the pan."
In January 1872, a number of residents from the western portion of Allegany County sent a petition to the state legislature requesting the creation of the new county. Advocates of the new county cited as their main reason for this initiative:
On April 1, 1872 the Maryland State Legislature, acting in compliance with this petition, approved an act (Chapter 212, Acts of 1872) providing for a public vote. It was a constitutional requirement that the final ratification of the county’s creation be left up to the qualified voters of the territory. The date for the voting was set for November 4, 1872. During the summer and early fall of 1872 a vigorous campaign was conducted for the formation of a new county.
The question concerning the creation of a new county, as well as the people’s choice for county seat, were both voted on in the November 4, 1872, general election. Voters overwhelmingly approved creation of the new county by a vote of 1297 to 405. The popular choice of the electorate for the county seat was Oakland, which won out over rivals Grantsville and McHenry’s Glades, the former by only 63 votes. On December 4, 1872, Maryland governor William Pinkney Whyte proclaimed that the extreme western triangle of the state “has become and is now constituted as a new county, to be called ‘Garrett County.’” In 1880, the first Garrett County census showed a population of 12,175 people.
The county was named for John Work Garrett (1820–1884), railroad executive, industrialist, and financier. Garrett served as president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from 1858 until his death in 1884. Garrett County was formed from the western sections of Allegany County and has the distinction of being the last county created within the state of Maryland.
It is clearly evident Indigenous peoples of the Americas criss-crossed Garrett County when locations of their trails are drawn on a map. Presumably, the trails which the Native Americans followed may originally been the seasonal migration paths of American Bison and elk herds. The trails gave the Native Americans access to camping and trading sites during the warm months, and a route home to their permanent towns at the end of the summer season.
As near as can be determined, Native Americans came into the Garrett County area from two general locations: the Monongahela–Ohio River drainage area to the west, and the New Creek–Potomac River drainage area to the east. Evidence uncovered by floods in the Potomac River valley indicate some towns have been in existence for over 2,000 years.
Mound building, a phase of Native American culture that took place in other parts of eastern North America, seems to be absent in this area. However, archaeologists speculate about the natural trenches which George Washington used at Fort Necessity, and the embankments of Fort Redstone at Brownsville, Pennsylvania, as possibility being a phase of the mound culture.
During the Early Woodland period of Native American culture, several Shelter cave sites were occupied by the Native Americans. In 1950, a shelter cave north of Friendsville, Maryland was excavated by an archaeological team from Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Known as Indian Rocks the cave is located near the headwaters of Laurel Run. It yielded a variety of stone and ceramic artifacts, including one piece of pottery that was one of the oldest ones ever found in this area; possibly dating back to the Archaic Indian period making it up to 2,500 years old. Other Pre-Columbian era pottery in the cave indicated that it had been occupied continuously for almost 1600 years.
Native American cultural artifacts of the Cherokee, Delaware (Lenape), and Shawnee can be found through out Garrett County. Evidence shows that the indigenous Mingo tribe seems to be the one which returned to the mountain top each year to hunt, fish, trade, and plant crops where open land was available. Northeast of Deep Creek Lake State Park, not far from the present day intersection of Rock Lodge and Mosser roads, on land belonging to the Nature Conservancy, can be found isolated boulders containing flint. It was a source for flint arrowheads when the Native Americans came to spend the summers in what is now Garrett County.
One of the camping places along Native American paths during the Colonial period was Little Meadows, Maryland. It was frequented by George Washington as well as many notable Trappers, explorers, and travelers who were in and out of the County’s boundaries during this time. A common stopping point for British troops during the French and Indian War it is also a burial site for Colonial soldiers. General Edward Braddock made this site one of the many camps he established during his ill-fated campaign against Fort Duquesne. East of present day Grantsville, Maryland, it is an easily accessible place to visit and remains of the Braddock Road can still be found there.
There were several north-south trails in Garrett County which were later developed into roads. The Hoop Pole Ridge Road ran from Oakland, Maryland to Grantsville, Maryland and followed part of the Seneca Trail. Traces of this old road can still be found at various places between Oakland and Deep Creek Lake, Maryland.
An Indian trail called the Glades Path came over Backbone Mountain from the North Branch of the Potomac River near Bloomington, Maryland and ended at the Little Youghiogheny River west of Oakland. In 1789, much of it became the route for the Oakland - Deer Park – Swanton – Bloomington Road.
“What prompted the early European American settlers to move into the wilderness and endure the hardships of such an undertaking?” The answer can be summarized in one word, “land.” The desire for land of their own, coupled with religious freedom, was the force that motivated the early European American settlers to leave their homes in Europe and settle in Colonial North America. In the 1600s, land was settled around the sea ports of the East Coast. Then, the westward movement began and the frontier was gradually pushed back through the mountains.
One of the benefactors of the land grants of Virginia from the King of England was Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron. In 1736, he employed Benjamin Winslow to prepare a map of the Potomac River and to locate the springing point of the North Branch of the Potomac River. It was needed to mark the extreme western edge of the Northern Neck in the Virginia Colony that had been granted to Lord Fairfax by English King, Charles II. Winslow eventually came into the Garrett County area and located what he considered to be the westernmost springing point marking the beginning of the Potomac River. He marked the location with a pile of rock and blazed trees. This is the location of the present Fairfax Stone.
Ten years later, in 1746, a second group of surveyors found the location identified by Winslow. Included in the surveying party was Peter Jefferson, father of Thomas Jefferson. Included in the collection of photographs taken by W.E. Shirer in the early 1890s, is one which is an earlier photograph of the original Fairfax Stone monument. It is one of the vary few surviving photographs of the monument that was erected on October 17, 1746 by a survey party seeking the “springing point” of the Potomac River.
The Fairfax Stone location became a popular picnic spot after the West Virginia Central Railroad completed its rail line along the Potomac River and on to Elkins, West Virginia. Excursion trains would discharge passengers 2 ½ miles from the famous stone, and they would go from the railroad station to the stone by foot or in carriages available for hire. One day in the 1880s visitors found the stones, which formed the famous monument, scattered by vandals. Eventually they were collected and put in their original order as shown in W.E. Shirer’s photograph. Later, the stones were replaced by a single concrete monument of the 1910 boundary line survey.
During the early 1770s, Col. Francis Deakines was commissioned by the Governor of Maryland to survey various land holdings by the people in Garrett County and Alleghany County. Following the Revolutionary War, the State of Maryland paid the Colonial soldiers with lots of 50 acres of land known as “Military Lots”. Col. Deakins was hired to lay out the lots since he knew the territory. Deakins used the Fairfax Stone in 1787 as the starting point for what he intended to be the meridian line separating the State of Maryland from Virginia. Beginning in 1787, Deakins and ten surveying crews laid out over 4,000 Military Lots in the two counties. The men who headed the ten surveying crews were Henry Kemp, Daniel Cresap, Lawrence Bringle, Benjamine Price, John Tomlinson, Jonas Hogmire, Thomas Orm, John Hooker, John Lynn, and William W. Hoye. An interesting geographical feature came to light as the survey for the Military Lots progressed. The water from the spring at the Fairfax Stone actually flowed westward in a curving arc, before going eastward again. This led to a boundary line dispute which was not resolved until 1912 by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Colonial settlements along the East Coast on North America began a gradual infusion of European culture into the life of the Native Americans in the United States. Historians know from stories and diary entries of trappers and explorers that as some of the East Coast tribes began moving westward, they carried with them parts of this new cultural influence. Two men who provided historians with a wealth of information from their writings were Thomas Cresap and Christopher Gist. Both men knew Native American trails and many of the local Chiefs and seem to have traveled freely in the frontier wilderness of the Appalachian Mountains without being molested. These men were among a number of famous people who were in and out of Garrett County’s boundaries during Colonial days. In the mid-1700s, much of the land was surveyed by George Washington for Lord Fairfax. In 1755, during the French and Indian War, Washington guided General Braddock using Native American trails from Fort Cumberland over the rugged mountains to Fort Duquesne(Pittsburgh) where he was defeated by the French.
Born near Baltimore, Maryland in 1706, Christopher Gist was a well educated man for his times. Today he would be classed as a scholar, a brave explorer, an extensive diary keeper, but a very poor businessman. It was in the decade 1749–1759 that he crossed back and forth through Garrett County.
Since he was well acquainted with the frontier wilderness, Gist was the person selected to guide George Washington to Fort LeBoeuf on the upper reaches of the Allegheny River. In 1753, Washington carried a letter from Virginia’s Governor Dinwiddie, demanding that the French leave the area since it was land claimed by the Colony of Virginia. They refused, and in 1754, he returned with a military force. Gist and Washington met at the Wills Creek trading post (Cumberland, Maryland) and started westward. They camped one night at Little Meadows on November 16, 1753, and again camped there on their return trip on January 5, 1754.
At this time Gist owned land near the present city of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, which he called Gist’s Plantation and began to build a model town on his plantation. After Washington’s defeat at Fort Necessity on July 3, 1754 all the buildings were burned by the French and Indians.
Gist, who also owned land in North Carolina, returned to the area with part of that colony’s militia and join General Braddock’s forces in 1755. Young Daniel Boone was in the group which accompanied Gist on this trip.
Born in Skipton, Yorkshire, England, Thomas Cresap came to Maryland when 15 years of age. Thomas Cresap was a large landholder and European American settler in the state of Maryland. He was known in Western Maryland as a border ruffian and in Pennsylvania as the "Maryland Monster". He settled in the eastern disputed territory between Maryland and Pennsylvania. He connived in the 1730s to expand the borders of Maryland at the expense of Pennsylvania and Virginia by settling German immigrants into disputed areas and surveying the source of the Potomac River as far south as possible. Only in 1746, with the arrival of Mason and Dixon from England, was this dispute finally resolved.
Cresap got into a quarrel with a Pennsylvania county sheriff, a deputy was mortally wounded in an exchange of gunfire, and Cresap spent eight months in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania jail, finally being released in the summer of 1737. In 1741 he arrived in Western Maryland (in what is now Allegany County) and established a trading post along an old Native American trail. A few miles east of present day Cumberland, Maryland, the settlement was called Shawanese Old Town because it was the site of a Shawnee village abandoned about a decade earlier. Today this area is known as Oldtown, Maryland.
Like many trappers and explorers of his time, Thomas Cresap made trips westward through the Allegheny Mountains and developed a number of friendships with the local Native Americans. As a result the Virginia Company authorized him to lay out a pack horse trail westward from the Wills Creek trading post (Cumberland, Maryland) to Fort Redstone on the Monongahela River in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. He employed a local tribe of Native Americans to do the work under the direction of Nemacolin, a Delaware, (Lenape) chief. It is one example of the gradual change of Native American Culture, because they were working for wages. The pack horse path which they blazed and cleared in 1749 or 1750 became the famous Nemacolin's Path, and roughly follows the present U.S. Route 40 in Maryland. The path was of military importance as the route of George Washington's first Western expedition and the Braddock expedition.
General Edward Braddock had to depend on Thomas Cresap for many of his supplies during the 1755 Braddock expedition. This was because the General did not receive the supplies he was supposed to have for his soldiers, due to poor communications with the various Colonies involved in the champain. Within seven miles of Fort Duquesne Braddock was ambushed by a combination of French soldiers and Indian warriors and completely defeated. After the disastrous ambush by the French and Indians and retreat of the Colonial forces, the Native Americans let loose a reign of terror on the European American settlers in the mountains.
Thomas Cresap organized a group of Rangers in the Spring of 1756. On June 30, 1756, the Rangers got into a skirmish with the Native Americans on the Braddock Road, several miles west of Little Meadows. Legend says that Negro Mountain was named for a slave (a butler or valet; or possibly a scout or ranger) of Cresap’s, named Nemesis, who was killed in the skirmish. He is said to be buried on Negro Mountain were he died.
Thomas Cresap was also a driving force in the Ohio Company, an enterprise that sought to open an important trade route to the west. Cresap engaged in a lengthy dispute with George Washington over property in the Ohio Valley. Cresap became totally blind a few years before his death in 1787. His name lives on in Cresaptown, Maryland several miles southwest of Cumberland, Maryland.
An early frontiersman, hunter and explorer of the Allegheny Mountains wilderness, especially in Garrett County, Maryland and the surrounding regions of what is now West Virginia. His woodland exploits were, by modern standards, phenomenal. His pursuit of the abundant white-tailed deer, black bear, panthers, wolves and wild turkeys through the western wilderness became legendary and there were many witnesses to his exploits in the forests. He was described by those who lived near him as "entirely free from vice"; honest and direct as any man could be and greatly respected. He had a reputation as the best hunter in the northwestern section of Maryland and celebrated as Maryland's most famous frontier hunter.
First published in 1859, Browning's memoir, Forty-Four Years Of The Life Of A Hunter: Being Reminiscences Of Meshach Browning, A Maryland Hunter, is a half backwoods history, half heroic adventure story. It recounts his hunting expeditions and life-threatening encounters while stalking game and records details of life in early frontier America, western Maryland folkways and early settlement life.
Commerce to the west in the late 1700s was aimed for Wheeling on the Ohio River, gateway to the expanding mid-west. In 1769 Samuel McCullough cut out a trail from the South Branch of the Potomac River near Petersburg to Wheeling. McCulloch's Path was the path followed by some early European American settlers who came into Garrett County from the Virginia area.
When Gen. Braddock made his ill-fated military march against the French at Fort Duquesnie, his engineering battalion cut out a road for supply wagons and canons on wheels. It became the “road westward” until construction of the National Road was completed to Wheeling in 1819.
Intended to be known as the Cumberland Road, the new highway was soon termed the National Road because it was built with federal money. For half a century, passage westward from Cumberland by travelers and settlers was over the old Braddock Road, built by General Braddock’s troops during 1755.
In 1806, Thomas Jefferson signed a bill from Congress setting aside money building the new road from Cumberland, Maryland to Wheeling, West Virginia. Work started in 1811 at Cumberland and by 1816, the Maryland section had been completed; two years later, it was completed all the way to Wheeling, West Virginia and the banks of the Ohio River.
The old National Pike was built over this same trail in the northern part of Garrett County between 1811 and 1819. Some of the old stage coach inns can still be found in the Grantsville area from this by-gone era. Today's US 40 also follows much of the same path of the old National Pike.
Perhaps its first suggestion was recorded by George Washington, who in 1758 had been the champion of the Braddock road (not then supposed to lie in Pennsylvania) and who in 1784 sought a route located wholly in Virginia. Returning from a visit to his western lands, after following McCulloch's Path (then the most important route across the rugged ridges between the valleys), he crossed the North Branch Potomac River on the future route of the greater Virginia highway which was partially realized in the 'state road' authorized from Winchester via Romney to Morgantown before 1786, and extended westward in 1786 by a branch road from near Cheat to Clarksburg, from which the first road was marked to the mouth of the Little Kanawha River between 1788 and 1790."
Unlike the National Road, the Northwestern Turnpike was financed by the sale of bonds; most of them to residents of Virginia. For many years a proposed route westward through Virginia had been considered. After Ohio was admitted to the Union in 1803, the consideration intensified; then, as the years passed and Virginia merchants noted the increase in business and traffic over the National road, the Virginia Legislature decided to make the route westward a reality. A bill was passed authorizing the Northwestern Turnpike in 1827, surveys were begun, and Colonel Claudius Crozet was appointed Chief Engineer to lay out the route of the road.
Beginning in Winchester, Virginia, the new road reached Romney, West Virginia in 1830, and by 1838, it had been completed all the way to Parkersburg, Virginia and the Ohio River. Northwestern Turnpike crossed the North Branch Potomac River southwest of the present town of Gormania, West Virginia and entered the southwest corner of Maryland through which it passed for eight and three-fourths miles, crossing the Alleghenies and emerging into Preston County, West Virginia east of the German settlement of Aurora, West Virginia. Today, a portion of U.S. Route 50 follows the historic Northwestern Turnpike and is knows as the George Washing Highway.
During the night of November 12 – 13, 1833, one of the greatest 'meteor showers of modern history took place over North America. Although it was a nationwide event, the effects of the phenomena took different forms in Garrett County. The sky was luminous all night long and many people thought it was the end of the world. Groups huddled in prayer on village streets and church bell rang continuously, while calmer people tried to reason and assure everyone that it was simply the time of year when the earth entered the Leonides meteor belt out in space.
One recorded episode of the Night Of The Stars is that of a sub-contractor on the Northwestern Turnpike. Customarily, he woke his men about 4 a.m. for breakfast preparation. When the 60 workmen saw the sky lit up with falling meteors, they concluded that it was the end of the world and immediately deserted their work to return home to be with their families.
Washington used another Indian Trail in the south of the County when he surveyed the area for Lord Fairfax of Virginia. This road later became the present-day US 50.
John Friend, Sr. is considered to be the first permanent European American settler of Garrett County. According to The Friend Family Association of America family tradition, John Friend, his son Gabriel, and his brother Andrew came into Garrett County from Virginia in 1764 by way of McCulloch's Path. Eventually, they got to the Indian village on the Youghiogheny River which now bears the family name, “Friendsville.”
During the following years, other families moved into the Youghiogheny River watershed. Records indicate that these families followed a settlement pattern typical of the time. They would take up a parcel of land, be there for one generation, and then move onward to land in the mid-west.
James McHenry served in the Revolutionary War as a surgeon and later as a secretary to George Washington. An early American statesman, he became active in Maryland politics; member of the Continental Congress (1783–1785)); Maryland signer of the United States Constitution; Secretary of War in the Cabinet of Presidents Washington and Adams (1796–1800); and the namesake of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland.
The community of McHenry, Maryland is on part of the land purchased by James McHenry in 1808. The site of his house is submerged under the waters of Deep Creek Lake. It was located almost directly down hill from the historical marker located along U.S. Route 219 south of the town of McHenry.
The names Fort McHenry and Baltimore include another association with Garrett County; Francis Scott Key and the Star Spangled Banner. Francis Scott Key never got to Garrett County, but Mrs. Key, her daughter, and grandchildren began spending their summers in the county beginning in the 1850s. The last grandchild, Miss Frances Howard, died in 1959 and their summer home on Alder Street was razed in 1962.
Oldest Continuously Occupied House in Garrett County. Although it was not the first log cabin in the County, by the mid-1900s it had been occupied by successive families for over 150 years. Built by William LaMar prior to 1800 (a guess puts it at 1797) it became the home of LaMar’s brother-in-law, James Drane and family in 1803. LaMar owned Flowery Vale, a 900 acre tract of land on which the log cabin was built. Half a century later, most of the town of Accident was built on the land. The Accident tract was incorporated into the Flowery Vale tract.
James Drane added an addition to the cabin shortly after he arrived, giving the building a total of six rooms; three upstairs and three down. He moved to western Maryland from Prince George’s County, which was part of the Maryland tobacco belt. Seemingly, James Drane intended to turn Flowery Vale into a tobacco plantation. However, the climate of Garrett County proved unsuitable for growing tobacco, and he turned to normal farm crops.
The last owners of the house were members of the Heinrick Richter family who purchased it in 1856. They leased it to a number of people; the last family left in 1952. The Accident Cultural and Historical Society was formed in 1987, and one of its main projects was the restoration of the Drane house.
On Oct. 25, 1991, the A. J. Wiley Co. of Springs, Pennsylvania, began the restoration work and on September 24, 1994, dedication of the restored building took place during the Drane Family reunion. At that time, all the restoration work had been complete with the exception of rebuilding the chimney on the west end of the building; it was completed by June 30, 1995.
Challenging the claim of the Drane House as oldest inhabited one in the County is the two story log cabin of the Wilson family. Located on the South Fork of Crabtree Creek , the cabin dates back to 1796; however, according to family tradition, the Wilson family did not occupy the cabin continuously until about 1805. The family originally came from the New Creek area and built the cabin the first year they owned the property. At the same time they began clearing the land for farming but only spent the summer months in the cabin, returning to their farm at New Creek for the winter months. Finally, about 1805, they could grow enough food on the Crabtree Creek farm to sustain themselves during the winter months, and they began living in the cabin continuously winter and summer.
Located on Three Forks Run, a tributary of the North Branch of the Potomac River, Vindex was typical of small communities in Garrett County which started as a town for a lumber mill, became a coal mining town, and then disappeared.
Shortly after World War I, timber cutting began in the Three Forks Run area. In 1924, the Chaffee Railroad Company was organized to build a standard gage railroad from Vindex to the Western Maryland Railroad downstream from Kitzmiller. Unfortunately, the lumber company business in Vindex only existed for a year or so after the standard gage railroad was built; however, Johnstown Coal and Coke Co. opened up an excellent seam of coal and Vindex flourished as a coal town. Finally, in 1950, the coal company went out of business, the mine closed, and Vindex became a ghost town. Today, only a few concrete steps and house foundations attest to the fact that a town once existed there.
Existence and disappearance of the town called Kendall, up-river from Friendsville, is a testimony to the growth and disappearance of the lumbering industry in Garrett County. During its existence the town had three different names; Yough Manor, Krug, and Kendall.
In 1889, the Confluence and Oakland Railroad was extended up the Youghiogheny River two miles beyond Friendsville to a new milling operation. Houses, a church, and a school followed in quick succession as work of the saw mill operation brought people into the area.
First, the Yough Manor Lumber Company built their saw mill there since it was cutting trees in the area; so the town was called Yough Manor. Next, came the A. Knabb Company which set up a stave mill in 1891. The company did this through negotiations with the Yough Manor people, and the town was renamed Krug after Mr. Henry Krug, one of the Knabb officials. Finally, during the early 1900s, the Kendall Lumber Company took over the saw mill operation and the town received its third name, Kendall.
As the timber cutting began to diminish in the 1920s, mill buildings and houses were torn down. The McCullough Coal Mine Company was the final one to operate at the town’s location. When the tracks of the Confluence and Oakland Railroad were removed in the 1940s, the remaining houses and other buildings completely disappeared, and nothing is there today but old foundations and sawdust piles.
The town of Shallmar received its name by reversing parts of the name Marshall to become Shallmar. Mr. W.A. Marshall was the first superintendent of the Wolf Den Coal Company which built the town. In 1927, the name of the operating company was changed to the Shallmar Mining Corportation. Unlike nearby Kitzmiller, Shallmar was a planned company town with all of the houses built on the same pattern. They were constructed beside a long street which follow the top of the bank of the Potomac River.
The mines in the Kitzmiller and Shallmar area slowed production to almost zero when the coal market slumped in the mid-1920s; eventually most of them went out of business during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Today, most of the company houses in Shallmar are privately owned and the old company store building is still there along with the Marshall house.
Located on the North Branch of the Potomac River, the town was named for Ebenezar Kitzmiller. He was the son-in-law of Thomas Wilson, who built a grist mill there in 1802. Years later, Ebinezar opened a woolen mill and the town was eventually given the name Kitzmillersville; later, it was shortened to Kitzmiller.
The town had a steady growth after the West Virginia Central and Pittsburgh Railroad was pushed up the Potomac River. First it was enlarged by timber cutting and later became a center for local coal mining. By 1908, there were four major coal mines in the Kitzmiller area, providing employment for hundreds of miners.
An interesting part of the mining operations was the aerial transport of coal across the river. As the railroad progressed up the river, sometimes it was easier to build the tracks on the West Virginia side; other times on the Maryland side. As a result, the railroad crossed and re-crossed the river several times. To get their coal to the railroad’s loading tipples, the management of the coal companies would use a cable car system, or construct a trestle high above the river.
One example of the cable car was the Hamill Coal and Coke mine downstream from Kitzmiller which transported its coal via a cable car system across the river to a tipple on the West Virginia side. Upstream above Kitzmiller, the Garrett County Coal Mining Company transported its coal across the river on a trestle.
Hostilities during the conflict with England were far beyond the boundaries of Garrett County. Never-the-less, Garrett County men were conscripted to serve in the Maryland Militia. The process of filling the conscription call is described in Meshach Browning’s Forty Four Years The Life Of A Hunter beginning on page 180.
According to Browning, all men who had resided in the area for more than 10 days were subject to be conscripted for service. The particular description of conscription process which he wrote about took place at Selbys Port, where 20 men were chosen. Eighteen were to be privates and they elected one of the two remaining men to be their Sergeant. From there, the men went to Cumberland to be incorporated into a larger group of soldiers. As near as can be determined, 49 men of Garrett County were veterans of the War of 1812.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad reached Cumberland, Maryland in November, 1842. Surprisingly, it produced and unexpected economic boom for both the National Road and the Northwestern Turnpike that it lasted for the next eleven years until the railroad got to Wheeling, West Virginia. The arrival of the railroad in Cumberland meant that the long haul over the roads to East Coast markets was cut in half. Livestock and merchandise flowed eastward to the railroad at Cumberland, and the same wagons were re-loaded with westbound merchandise.
This situation may have continued very pleasantly for many years, but the purpose for building the railroad in the first place was to reach the potential market of the Ohio River territory. Several years were spent tying to decided the best route to take over the mountains; finally, in 1848, the route which followed 'Crabtree Run of Garrett County was chosen and construction of the railroad was resumed.
In October, 1851, the railroad passed through Oakland, Maryland and on Christmas Eve 1853, it finally reached the banks of the Ohio River near Wheeling, West Virginia. During the years 1848–1853, over 5,000 men worked in the mountains to build the railroad. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station, Oakland
In 1884 the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station, Oakland was built to support the development of Oakland and Garrett County as a resort area. It is one of the finest remaining examples in Maryland of a Queen Anne style railroad station. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Late in the 1800s, Henry G. Davis and his brothers began timber cutting in the Potomac River Valley. At first, they floated the logs down the river to a saw mill near Piedmont, West Virginia. In 1881, Davis began pushing the West Virginia Central Railroad and Pittsburgh Railroad up the river valley, with small branch lines running up the hollows of the tributaries of the river. As the railroad progressed up the river, Davis built additional saw mills at strategic locations along the railroad. The railroad crossed and re-crossed the river many times in its route to the headwaters of the river; thus, some saw mills were in West Virginia others in Maryland. Eventually, the railroad passed the springing point of the river and went all the way to the present city of Elkins, West Virginia.
The Underground Railroad was the result of the abolitionist movement in the United States prior to the American Civil War. The movement took formal shape in 1833 when the American Anti-Slavery Society was organized in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From that date onward, the abolitionists defied existing laws by assisting in the escape of run-away slaves headed northward. The Underground Railroad consisted of as many varied routes as there were people sympathetic to the plight of the slaves.
It is thought that two underground lines entered southwestern Pennsylvania. One crossed the Mason-Dixon Line in southern Greene County, Pennsylvania coming from Morgantown, West Virginia where it branched with one fork going to Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The other route that entered Pennsylvania came from Cumberland, Maryland, via the National Road (today U.S. Route 40) where slaves would be passed to Somerfield, Pennsylvania and on to Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
Undoubtedly, there were safe houses or stations along the old National Road in Garrett County, Maryland where runaway slaves could receive aid in their progress to freedom; unfortunately, no record of them exists. However, it is interesting to note that stations were clearly marked as a house that had a candle burning in one window, day and night, or a quilt hanging on a line in the back yard, so they may have existed along the National Road.
Maintaining a station was risky business in those days. In addition to supplying food and a hiding place for a runaway slave, operators of a station were subject to heavy fines and possible imprisonment under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
Although Maryland remained in the Union, it was also a border state, and men from Maryland served in both the Union Army and the Confederate Army; Garrett County followed the same pattern as the rest of Maryland, having men who served on both sides of the conflict. However, although there was some rancor exhibited by a few Garrett County veterans, a number of men from both armies forgot their differences and joined the ranks of the local Maryland National Guard company.
Armed conflicts in the County were primarily in the form of raids by Confederate soldiers, know as McNeill's Rangers, from the South Branch of the Potomac River area.
The largest raid on Garrett County took place on Sunday, April 26, 1863. The Rangers were divided into three different groups: one contingent burned the bridge over the North Branch Potomac River at Gorman, Maryland and continued westward on the Northwestern Turnpike; a second one headed for Altamont and destroyed railroad property there; and the third contingent came into Oakland about 11 o’clock in the morning.
In Oakland, the Rangers captured the local garrison of Union soldiers, burned the railroad bridge over the Youghiogheny River, as well as the highway bridge nearby; then departed for Terra Alta, West Virginia.
Another raid took place in the eastern part of the county on May 5, 1864, when McNeills Rangers attempted to blow up the railroad bridge over the Potomac River at Bloomington, Maryland. One group of Rangers went to work setting the explosives while a second group rode on to Piedmont and destroyed shop buildings and rolling stock of the railroad.
On learning that a large force of Union soldiers was on their way from Keyser, West Virginia, to Piedmont, West Virginia, the Rangers decided to blow up the bridge and leave. The explosives were set off, but after the dust and smoke disappeared, the bridge was still standing.
The farmer-distiller was a familiar figure in 19th Century Maryland. Getting a ton of corn to market was expensive and the return could be low. The same ton turned into whiskey might bring ten times the return. With abundant fields of rye, wheat and corn recognition spread that a good way to add value to a ton of grain was to turn it into gallons of whiskey. With good roads and ready markets in Washington and Baltimore, North Central Garrett County area farmers and immigrants from Europe founded distilleries and whiskey brands that often bore their names. One such was Melky Miller Maryland Rye Whiskey.
Melchior J. (Melkey) Miller was the native-born son of a German immigrant and farmer who arrived in the United States in the early 1830s, part of a great wave of German immigrants looking for good land and opportunity. In 1875, Melkey Miller purchased a farm along a tributary of South Branch Bear Creek, just southeast of Accident, Maryland. He also bought out the rather crude equipment of a small distillery from Joel Miller, in the Cove area of Garrett County, and moved it to his farm. Like many other distillery owners, Melky was not a distiller himself; he hired professionals to operate the business. His three sons, William, John, and Charles, learned the trade from these experts, eventually replacing them.
In 1902 Melchior sold the distillery to his sons. William continued as distiller, while John and Charles established a wholesale and retail whiskey business in nearby Westernport, Maryland. The town was so named because it was the western most navigable port on the Potomac River. Whiskey could be sent downstream by boat to Cumberland where it could either continue down the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal to Washington or be carted by wagon over the National Road to Baltimore or later go by railroad. Reflecting the new owners, the company changed its name to M.J. Millers Sons Distillery. The boys had an evident genius for business and soon built Melky Miller’s Maryland Rye Whiskey into a highly respected local and regional brand. Although production was relatively small – only 29 bushels of grain processed daily according to Federal records – the quality of the company’s whiskey was high. The firm also was noted for the artistic design of both the jugs and the bottles in which it marketed its products.
The passage of the Volstead Act in 1919 brought the family business to a close. In 1920 all of the bonded stock in the Accident warehouses was transferred to government concentration warehouse in Cumberland. The distillery itself was closed and left to decay. In Accident, Maryland the foundations for the Bonded Warehouses of the distillery can still be seen 200 feet south of the Miller Road, ¼ mile east of the Brethren Church Road intersection.
Since the first European American settlers built their cabins in Garrett County, travelers have always found a place to stay over night. However, as the westward movement of population began, taverns began to appear along the trails that eventually became roads. People would build a large two storied log house and go into the tavern business. Many of them were located along the old Braddock Road and, later, taverns of better design and accommodations appeared on the National Road as well as the Northwestern Turnpike.
The Vacation development trend began in 1872, as resort hotels arose in the county’s southwest, where the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad traversed the plateau after climbing out of the Potomac River Valley. The area was conveniently located a day’s train ride from Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC to the east and Cincinnati, Ohio to the west, encouraging overnight stays. Hotels were built next to the station and either privately owned or owned by the railroad. Hotels prospered as travelers who did not want to ride a train all night would stop and then resume their journey the next day.
Depots at Mountain Lake, Maryland, Deer Park, Maryland and Oakland, Maryland gave travelers easy access to hotels and brought the rich and famous of the day to the area for recreation and relaxation. Hotels began catering to a wealthy urban clientele who enjoy the mountain climate, and would spend a week or so relaxing in the cool air of the station towns away from the cities.
By 1789, a road had been completed over Backbone Mountain from the Potomac River to the Youghiogheny River which followed the old Glades Indian Trail. It was hailed as an outlet for merchandise to be transferred in and out of the southern part of Garrett County and across the state border into West Virginia.
Soon after the road was opened, a man named John Hays built a large house along it in the Green Glades area, and began to operated it as a tavern. Ownership of the building changed hands several time during the years that it existed. Around 1809, Henry Ingman, a son-in-law of one of the owners, took over the tavern operation. Although Ingman never owned the property, it was known as Ingman’s Tavern for a number of years.
The tavern was the center of activity in 1824 when a Potomac River Canal crew spent most of the summer in the area. They were trying to map a route to bring a canal over the mountains to connect with the waters of an Ohio River tributary. Visiting the crew while they stayed at Ingman’s Tavern was the famous John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War at the time.
Ingman’s Tavern was torn down in the 1890s, but some small trees in a field mark its general location along the Steiding Church Road.
One of the earliest hotels in the County is Casselman Inn (Hotel) located on U.S. Route 40 at Grantsville. It is a two and a half story, Greek Revival brick structure, built about 1842. It was built for Solomon Sterner to serve travelers on the National Road.
The Glades Hotel in Oakland was an excellent example of a hotel where there was cool air. Built in 1859, the hotel quickly filled with visitors in its first season. The hotel was so close to the railroad that travelers could get meals there during a twenty-minute layover. John and Ann Rebecca Dailey owned and operated the Glades Hotel from 1859 to 1881. Historian Thomas Scharf noted that “Mr. Dailey was one of the best known hotel proprietors in the country and had a reputation for urbanity and a thorough knowledge of his business.” Mary Mary Tapscott Dailey, the Dailey’s daughter, was the wife of General George Crook, a distinguished Union officer during the American Civil War. A large monument in the old Oakland Cemetery marks the burial site of John and Ann Rebecca Dailey.
Included among the guests at the Glades Hotel was Senator Jefferson Davis. He was not well and spent three weeks at the hotel under the medical care of Dr. J. Lee McComas of Oakland. In successive years, the Glades Hotel was expanded until it was three times it’s original size and stretched almost 200 feet beside the railroad tracks across from the Oakland station. Unfortunately, it caught fire and burned down in 1874 and set the station on fire as well. The hotel was rebuilt, slightly to the east of the station, and existed there until it was torn down in 1905; the site of the hotel is now part of the town’s parking lot.
In 1858, John W. Garrett became President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He was not a stranger to western Maryland and had many acquaintances in the Oakland – Deer Park area. Among the people he knew and worked with was Henry G. Davis; undoubtedly, it was Davis who promoted the idea of a hotel in the cool air of the mountain top.
Of course, the “resort hotel” idea did not develop in a vacuum because many of the East Coast railroads were finding that a lucrative passenger business could be built up by transporting people from a city to railroad-owned hotels in the mountains. Thus, the B.&O. Railroad ventured into the “resort hotel” business in 1869, when they purchased several hundred acres of Perry family’s “Anchorage Farm.” In 1872, the railroad built the center section of the Deer Park Hotel; and it opened for first time on July 4, 1873. The east and west wings of the hotel were added 1881-82 to provide the railroad with a hotel having 300 rooms.
According to tradition, The Anchorage house stood beside the present Pysell Crosscut Road; the location is marked by two sailing ship anchors on the lawn of a house that is there now.
During the early 1870s, H.G. Davis contracted to build a series of cottages on the hotel property, with the first one becoming John W. Garrett’s cottage. Later, this became the caretaker’s cottage, and Garrett had a more sumptuous summer home built to the west side of the hotel; he died there in the summer of 1884.
The railroads were responsible for building large summer resorts in the beautiful mountain areas in Garrett County. The rich and the famous were often found in Garrett County during this time period recreating. President Cleveland and his wife spent their honeymoon in 1886 at the Dear Park Resort.
Known as the “cap stone” of the mountains, the hard Clarion sandstone forms much of the ridge of Backbone Mountain. In many places it is cracked and broken, producing large blocks which stand by themselves. One of the many such blocks along the mountain ridge is Eagle Rock. This massive block was accessible by horse and buggy for visitors from the Deer Park Hotel. It was a popular place to visit because of the tremendous views it afforded.
A number of factors dictated that the Oakland Hotel of 1875 would be larger than the original Deer Park Hotel center section. In the first years of it’s existence, the Deer Park Hotel quickly became the exclusive domain of a number of very wealthy people. While it made a very pleasant situation for the people who patronized the Deer Park Hotel, it contradicted the original plan of the railroad to build up a large passenger service by transporting people from the summer heat of the cities to the cool air of the mountains. Thus, the Oakland Hotel was constructed as a 300 room hotel.
An interesting “first” is associated with both the Oakland Hotel and the Deer Park Hotel. The “first” has to do with the first telephone service put into use in Garrett County. Using the telegraph wires of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, telephone messages were transmitted between the lobby of the Oakland Hotel and the lobby of Deer Park Hotel. The service was inaugurated by none other than Alexander Graham Bell, himself.
Within 15 years after the construction of the big Oakland Hotel, there were almost a dozen smaller hotels built in Oakland to accommodate visitors who came to the mountain top on the railroad. Three of these small hotel buildings are still in existence in town: the vacant Miller House across from the
Ruth Enlow Library; the old Geisman Hotel beside the wooden bridge over the railroad tracks on Third Street which is now an apartment house; and a hotel last know as “The Rest” on the corner of Seventh and Alder Streets which has also been turned into an apartment house.
One example of a summer home of well known people was the purchase of the Edwin Stabler house in Oakland in 1859 by Mrs. Francis Scott Key. (Stabler was the man who edited and published Meshach Browning’s book, “Forty Four Years The Life Of A Hunter.”) Mrs. Key enlarged the house and it was the summer home of her daughter and grandchildren, the Howard family of Baltimore. It was torn down in the 1960s after the last survivor of the family, Julia McHenry Howard, died in 1959.
Other houses built as summer homes are still in existence in Oakland and now occupied all year ‘round. One excellent example is Crook’s Crest; built as a summer home for General Crook on the top of a hill that overlooks the entire town, it is now the summer and winter home of Dr. Thomas Johnson.
Oakland and Mountain Lake Park have existed side-by-side for over a century, and it is hard to imagine a time when the “Park” did not exist. However, until the summer of 1881, it was 800 acres of trees and fields, belonging to the farm of William Waller Hoye. In that year, a group of prominent men from Wheeling purchased 800 acres from Mr. Hoye to become a town devoted to activities of a Methodist church group. Their plan was to develop a small summer village centered around religious and Chautauqua type programs.
In 1882, the Mountain Lake Park Association built a large administration building later known as the Assembly Hall. Ten small summer cottages were quickly constructed, and the town of Mountain Lake Park came into existence. Within the next five or six year a large number of summer homes had been constructed, increasing in size each year. By 1895. the Mountain Chautauqua at Mountain Lake Park was a huge success, with hundreds of people attending the many programs offered.
To accommodate visitors who only wanted to be in Mountain Lake Park for a week or two, many small hotels sprang up through out the town. Today, some of these large Victorian type buildings are still standing and have become private homes.
Largest of all the hotels built in Mt. Lake Park was the Mt. Lake Park Hotel. It was built in two stages; a large three story section in 1898, and a long two story addition built in 1902. It gradually became a center for many social activities in Mt. Lake Park until the beginning of World War II. Then, declining business forced its closure in the 1950s, and it was finally razed in 1963.
The Bashford Amphitheater was begun in 1899 and completed in 1900. This auditorium with its huge umbrella shaped roof had a seating capacity of 5,000 and was often filled to capacity by speakers of National reputation. In 1911, when William H. Taft spoke there, a crowd, estimated at 7,000 people, gathered under its roof to see and hear the President of the United States. In 1946 it was torn down for the lumber, because it was too expensive to maintain.
Today, only the ticket booth for the amphitheater remains to testify of this unusual building’s existence.
Although it was included in the name of the Mt. Lake Park Association, a lake did not exist there for a number of years. As a matter of fact, it was almost 15 years after the founding of Mt. Lake Park that an artificial lake was finally constructed in meadow land on the eastern side of town. Although it became a popular spot for summer recreation with swimming and boating one of its design features was to provide hydro-electric power to light the Association’s Assembly Hall and Bashford Amphitheater.
During the winter months, ice was cut from the surface of the lake and stored in a large shed with a capacity to hold a reported 2,500 tons of ice. A railroad siding to the B. & O. Railroad served for transporting large shipments of ice from the lake. At one time the lake covered 22 acres and stretched all the way to Crystal Spring, 500 yards from the breast; now, it is the size of a farm pond.
In the summer of 1895, the famous Loch Lynn Hotel opened for summer guests. The decorum of the hotel and the area around it was completely different that that of Mountain Lake Park, just across the railroad tracks. Basically, it seemed to flaunt all the semi-religious restrictions associated with the Park.
It boasted a gambling casino, bars, dancing, and a host of other recreation attractions. So completely different was it from the hotels and summer homes in Mountain Lake Park, that the saying soon developed, “If you want to sin … … go to Loch Lynn!”
The large Loch Lynn Hotel burned down one September evening in 1915. The swimming pool building existed until 1986, when it was torn down for the lumber.
In Maryland’s Garrett County by the year 1900, 150 years of settlement and intensive resource exploitation had created significantly degraded forest conditions typical of most of Appalachia. Though the situation in Garrett County forests typified central and northern Appalachia in 1900, singular individuals and events brought about significant change over the next century.
In 1906 Robert and John Garrett, principal officers in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, gave the State of Maryland 2,000 acres of forest land, including parcels of virgin hemlock forests, on condition that a Maryland Forestry Department be established. The state legislature, spurred by Senators William McCulloh Brown and General Joseph B. Seth, with the aid of State Geologist W. Bullock Clark, responded with Maryland’s first forestry law, which Governor Edwin Warfield signed into law on April 5, 1906. Thus establishing a statewide forestry program and forest conservation initiative, from which emerged almost immediately Maryland’s system of state parks.
The law established a Board of Forestry, made up of influential Marylanders, to oversee the management of the Garrett bequest, to institute a statewide program of forest conservation, to accept additional land donations, and to hire a state forester. Acting upon the board’s recommendation, Governor Warfield appointed an able young forester working for the U.S. Forest Service, Fred W. Besley, who would serve as Maryland’s first State Forester from 1906 until 1942. A Yale School of Forestry trained protégé of Gifford Pinchot, first U.S. Forester, Besley proved to be an able and energetic choice.
Besley realized almost immediately that one good way to promote the forestry agenda was to encourage the public to use forest reserves for recreational purposes. Besley set priorities in four areas: fire control, forest inventory, public land management, and private landowner assistance.
The Great Depression of the 1930s, as devastating as it was to the nation as a whole, proved a boon to forest and park development. One of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which, in Maryland, put 30,000 young unemployed men to work reclaiming forest and other natural resources, building recreational facilities and restoring historic structures on public lands. Most of the recreational facilities that the CCC built in Maryland forests and parks are in use today.
A legacy of tourism and recreational land use begun in the late 19th century continues to evolve. Today, Maryland's system of state forests and parks controls over 70,000 acres of forest land in Garrett County. Both Marylanders and visitors enjoy a precious outdoor resource thanks to the farsightedness of Fred Besley and the many other dedicated forest and park professionals over the past century.
One of the most surprising industries to develop in Garrett County is the Recreation Industry. Starting with the days of the “Great Hotels,” the fresh air of Garrett County has been a “drawing card” for people to come to the mountain top. The creation of Deep Creek Lake overcame the slump in recreation produced by the development of travel by automobile rather than passenger train; it was this slump caused the demise of the “great hotels.” During the 1930s, more and more out-of-state license plates appeared on automobiles traveling the highways around the Lake.
Then in 1937-38, the Rural Electrification Commission extended electric lines all around the Lake and the building of cottages leaped forward. Gradually, after World War II, summer cottages were “winterized” or rebuilt for winter recreation.
Today, Deep Creek Lake area is both a winter and summer resort, and with the development of “year-round” State Park facilities, recreation in Garrett County is at an “all-time” high.
The word industrial brings to mind large factory buildings, smoke stacks, and hundreds of employees going in and out of buildings with shift changes. Thus, when a person looks at the farms, hills and trees of Garrett County, he might wonder about the title, “Industrial Garrett County.” However, people of the County are engaged in the agriculture, mining, lumbering, recreation and electric power generation industries of the area ... just to mention a few industries.
Owning their own land was the factor which brought many of the early European American settlers into western Maryland. At first, they could only grow sufficient crops to feed themselves, but gradually they reached the point where they had extra crops which could be offered for sale. Various kinds of grain came into the “extra crop” category and grist mills began to appear along the streams of Garrett County
As near as can be determined, the first grist mill in the County was built in 1771 on Bear Camp Run, one of the tributaries to the Youghiogheny River. It was built by a Dutch immigrant named Jacob Foreman and operated by him for many years except for a short period when he served in the Maryland Militia during the Revolutionary War. The second grist mill was built by Jesse Thomlinson at Little Meadows 1795 or 1797. After 1800, grist mills began to appear in the communities of Swanton, Kitzmiller, Selbysport, Bloomington, Gortner, and Sang Run.
Bear Creek grist mills One of the first grist mills built on Bear Creek was the Engle Mill, built by Samuel Engle in 1835. Although the mill disappeared long ago, the millrace can still be seen along the bank above the mill’s location.
Samuel Engle had an energetic young man working for him named Henry Kaese. As the community grew larger, and there was more milling business to be done, Henry Kaese built a grist mill one half mile downstream from the Engle mill in 1868. According to Kaese family tradition, Mrs. Kaese supervised the digging of the millrace while her husband, Henry Kaese, worked with the men to build the grist mill. Over the years, Henry Kaese and later his son, Henry Kaese Jr., upgraded the mill from using mill stones to the “roller mill” system. The roller mill system operated like the old washing machine ringer.
Kaese’s mill still has all of its machinery inside, and the iron water wheel is one of the few remaining ones in western Maryland.
After a lot of the acreage of Garrett County was denuded of trees through the lumbering industry, more land was available for farming. Along with the increased in farming, came a demand for lime to enrich the soil.
At first, the farmers would “burn” their own lime in the field where it was to be used. They would stack fire wood in a symmetrical pattern, cover it with lime rock, and pile dirt over top of the wood and stone. Then, the whole thing would be set on fire and the heat of the burning fire wood caused the lime stones to disintegrate into slake lime; the “burning” took about three weeks to accomplish.
Enterprising men realized that using a furnace called a lime kiln was a quicker and easier way to produce slaked lime all year ‘round. As a result, lime kilns appeared at various parts of the County where there were limestone outcroppings. Although it is no longer used, one kiln still exists on the Hoyes Run Road.
Timber extraction began around 1790 when Philip Hare built Garrett County’s first sawmill on Meadow Run. At Little Crossings, on the Casselman River, Jesse Tomlinson built a sawmill around 1815. Water-powered, these mills were located near stands of white pine and within a mile or two of the National Pike . At first, white pine was the only species harvested.
Both timber production and land clearing rates ratcheted upward with the advent of steam technology and improving transportation. The first steam saw mill in Garrett County was built in 1837 ... on the Red Run, two miles above the National Road. In three years it depleted 250 acres of white pine. The National Road itself, funded by Congress in 1806 and completed to Wheeling, Virginia, in 1818, provided improved means to transport sawn lumber and agricultural products. It also served as a vector for increased settlement pressure as immigrants swarmed through the region into the Ohio Valley during the early to mid-1800s.
At mid-century the B&O Railroad penetrated the county, augmented by a network of narrow gauge rail lines that quickly accessed once remote timber. Cumberland, 15 miles to the east, was Maryland’s second largest city in 1840. Mount Savage, just down the mountain from Garrett County, emerged as a thriving iron center. When mining interests began extracting anthracite coal from seams in the Georges Creek and Wills Creek Valleys, also to the east, demand for wood and agricultural commodities exploded. The regional growth of tanneries  depleted hemlocks, literally stripping the forest bare and typically leaving the wood to rot. Altogether, through the 19th century land clearing in Garrett County averaged about 2.5 square miles per year.
John W. Garrett turned out to be a civilian hero during the American Civil War because he kept the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad running in spite of the Confederate soldier’s destruction of bridges and tracks. However, Garrett was supported by an able supplier of bridge timbers and cross ties, Henry Gassaway Davis, one of the first large-scale timber operators in Garrett County.
Henry G. Davis built a tramroad from Deer Park to the present Deep Creek Lake area. He had a large saw mill in the Thayerville area. The Davis tramroad followed the general route of the Deer Park – Sand Flat Road; faint traces of its existence can still be found in some places.
Davis was soon followed by a number of timber cutting operators and the Garrett County forests with their giant oak, chestnut, and evergreen trees began to disappear. Meadow Mountain Lumber Company was one of the largest timber operations in the north central part of the County; Kendall Lumber company cut trees in the southern part; and Savage River valley had several large companies which cut trees in that area.
During “off season” the mechanical power of the grist mills was turned to sawing logs into lumber for houses. However, the output of these mills was minimal ... usually for local use only. Following the American Civil War, there was a great demand for all types of lumber. The sawmills were no longer powered by water wheels, but stationary steam engines and the out-put of these new sawmills was measured by the thousands of board-feet of lumber per day. Logging railroads followed the timber cutting work to carry the output of the mills to the “main line” railroads connected to East Coast markets and the lumber industry in Garrett County was in “full swing.”
The Garrett County lumbering industry was in its maximum phase in 1890s, and one of the best ways to get to the timber on Meadow Mountain was by rail. Started as the Bear Creek Railroad in 1899 it was generally referred to as “the Meadow Mountain Lumber Company railroad” since it was utilized and extended for almost 39 miles by the Meadow Mountain Lumber Company. Traces of the old roadbed can still be seen along the banks of Bear Creek and throughout the glades area on top of Meadow Mountain.
The name “Jennings” is derived from the family name of Cortez and Worth Jennings. Know as the Jennings Brothers company they purchased land near the junction of Big Laurel Run and the Casselman River for the erection of a large saw mill in 1901. The settlement associated with the saw mill became the town of Jennings.
The saw mill continued in operation until it closed in 1918. At the same time the saw mill was built, Jennings Brothers began construction of a railroad to follow the Casselman River to the community of Jennings. It began as an extension of the B. & O. Railroad’s Salisbury branch line. Although the mill closed in 1918, the railroad continued to operate under different names until 1959, when it was abandoned and the rails removed.
One side-industry that developed from the timber cutting in the mountains, was the tanning of hides into leather. Following the American Civil War, the nation’s railroads westward expansion meant the flow of merchandise back to the East Coast. Among the items moving in this direction were hides from the great stock yards of St. Louis and Chicago. Large and small tanneries were constructed in the general area of the saw mills, where a large supply of oak tree bark was available. A large tannery was built at Gormaia, W. Va., and the buildings were there until the 1930s. The tannery operation, itself, slowed to a halt as timber cutting gradually decreased in the Potomac River watershed. (Note: There was also a large tannery at Hutton, Md.; it ceased operation about 1925.)
According to “Brown’s Miscellaneous Writings” the first coal mine in Garrett County was opened in an area near the Mason Dixon Line, not far from Little Meadows; this was in the early 1800s. At that time the primary use for coal was in black smithing work. However, after the railroads pushed into Garrett County, mining coal for export from the County became a profitable business.
Today, the Mettiki Coal Mine on Backbone Mountain is the major producer of coal in Garrett County. When operating at peak production, the company is capable of digging 20, 000 tons of coal per day; exceeding the total out-put of coal for the County’s mines in 1900.
In some parts of Garrett County, pieces of sandstone can be found which have iron ore incorporated in them. Also, some of the clay material in the County has small nodules of iron ore. Both have been found in the Friendsville area, and in 1828 an iron furnace was built along Bear Creek, upstream from Friendsville. First incorporated as Allegany Iron Company, Inc., the name was later changed to the Youghiogheny Iron Company. The pig iron produced was transported to a foundry at Brownsville, Pa., and the furnace operated into the 1840s, giving employment to about 100 men.
Although nothing remains of the iron furnace today, the nearby quarry which supplied some of the iron ore is still there.
Garrett County has some excellent seams of limestone to provide limestone for building and highway construction.
Drilling for gas in the Accident area began in the 1930s, with the first producing well “coming in” around 1937. Since that time, numerous gas wells have been drilled in the area. The production of gas in this gas field was minimal, and during the 1962 it be came a storage area for the Texas Eastern Transmission Corp. At maximum storage capacity the field can hold 63 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
A law of physics states that stored gas released from higher pressure, takes up heat. Thus, the gas lines from the wells must have some anti-freeze injected into the pipes to prevent them from freezing-up at the “well head” during cold weather.
Prior to World War I, there was a dream of using the Youghiogheny River as a source of hydro-electric power. The overall plan was to build four dams and three generation plants on the river. One plant and dam would be near Crellin; two dams, one above Swallow Falls and one on Deep Creek, would furnish water for a second generating plant; down river, collecting exit water from all three dams, would be a fourth dam and generating plant, up-stream from Friendsville. Of all the planned installations only the Deep Creek Lake generating plant was built.
The reason for abandoning the hydro-electric dream was the increase efficiency of steam driven electric plants and long distance high-voltage electric transmission. (The steam powered electric plant near Mt. Storm, W.Va., is an excellent example of an efficient generating plant and long distance high-voltage electric transmission.)
Inevitably, when a person begins to make a list of names, some are omitted which should have been included. However, a number of famous people have been in Garrett County at one time or the other.
It may be useful to consider integrating some of the materials from these sites into this article. Additional investigation into the material and the creators is required.