Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Maryland, My Maryland Part 3

Photo: Pixabay/David Mark
Thank you for joining me on another virtual visit to the beautiful and historic state of Maryland. For those who missed the first post in the series can read about the Southern Region here: https://www.hhhistory.com/2022/08/maryland-my-maryland-part-2-and-huge.html.

Western Maryland, also called the Maryland Panhandle, is comprised of Washington, Allegany, and Garret counties, and is the most rural region of the state. Known for its mountainous terrain (it is part of the central Appalachians), the area’s weather is more similar to that of West Virginia rather than the temperate climate of the rest of Maryland with cooler summers and harsher winters. Despite being heavily agrarian, the region has several major highways that crisscross the region: Interstate Highways I-70, I-81, and I-68, as well as U.S. Highways US-11, US-40, US-40 Alt, US 219, and US 50. There are also quite a few state roads that traverse the area.

Produce and dairy farms are plentiful, with the best-known crop being the apples grown in the Cumberland Valley, but corn, potatoes, beans, and various green-leaf vegetables are also grown. The town of Hancock, located in Washington County, is the narrowest stretch in the state with its northern and southern borders separated by a mere 1.8 miles.

Garrett County, the westernmost county in the state, was the last part of Maryland to be settled, and it
Photo: Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures
wasn’t until 1764 that English, German, and Irish emigrants traveled from nearby Pennsylvania to homestead there. Approximately eighty years later, the county was founded and named for Baltimore & Ohio Railroad president John Work Garrett, a testament to the importance of the railroad in county history. Other well-known industrialists, such as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone would later find their way to this county. William Jennings Bryant was also a resident at one time.

In September 1776, Washington County was founded having been “peeled off” of Frederick County. It was the first US county to be named for the Revolutionary War general (and later President) George Washington. This particular region was mostly made up of English, French, Swiss, and Scottish settlers. Home to Fort Frederick, the only British colonial fort still standing, the county has the dubious honor of being the location of Antietam National Battlefield, the site of the bloodiest single-day battle of the Civil War. As mentioned previously, the railroad had a large presence here, as well as the C&O Canal, and there are three museums that highlight this important history.
Allegany County was created by splitting a portion of Washington County. The area became the home to many pioneers who would travel through the Cumberland Narrows, a 1,000-foot-high gap in the Allegany Mountains. English settlers arrived to mine and created many towns and farms (when mining didn’t provide the riches they sought). The name Allegany is said to come from the Native American word oolikhanna meaning “beautiful streams.” An important center of transportation, the area saw travel by canal, train, and horse and buggy. The National Road, the first federally funded highway, began in Cumberland, and the Lavale Toll Gate House still stands as the state’s only remaining toll house on the National Road.
Photo: Courtesy of
Boonsboro Historical Society
The Western region is dear to my heart because of many fond memories associated with the area. Growing up, we often visited man-made Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, the largest inland body of water in Maryland that covers nearly 4,000 acres and has sixty-nine miles of shoreline. During one of my summers, I worked at Bechtel and was befriended by a young woman who lived in Boonsboro (Washington County). Local legend has it that the town was originally called Boonesboro and named after Daniel Boone’s cousin George. I often went home with her on the weekends, and one weekend while feeling especially bold, I accompanied her to the hair salon and got myself a perm. I thought I was all that and more. Looking back at the pictures – not so much!
Come back next month for a virtual visit to the Eastern Shore Region of Maryland.

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Aubry DeLuca storms the beaches at Normandy, then wakes up in the hospital, his eyes bandaged. Will he regain his sight? Will the only woman he’s ever loved welcome him home or is he destined to go through life blind and alone?
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Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is a former trustee for her local public library. She is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry (of Star Spangled Banner fame). Linda has lived in historic places all her life, and is now located in central New Hampshire where her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors. Learn more about Linda and her books at http://www.LindaShentonMatchett.com


  1. Thank you for continuing your posts about Maryland. And also thank you for continuing your contributions to the blog. I've only been through Maryland, never visited. Deep Creek Lake sounds pretty big!

  2. I live in Western Maryland on of those produce farms you mentioned! :D