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Richard D. L. Fulton

For decades, covered bridges, seemingly having been located in the most idyllic locations, have mesmerized writers, artists, photographers, tourists, and the countless casual observers.

But covered bridges were never erected with a pleasant setting or with architectural aesthetics in mind, and much in the way of misconception as to their origin and reason for even existing, has, at times, supplanted the facts.

Where did they decide to build these bridges and why? Why did they even attach roofs on the bridges? 

“In the beginning,” before the proliferation of bridges during the Age of the Horse and Buggy, the primary means to get from one side of a stream to another was generally accomplished at a ford, where the water level was generally low enough to permit crossing.

However, fords could prove to be especially hazardous during stormy weather, which caused the water levels to rise along with the velocity of the water. Many bridges were initially constructed based on the number of drownings or near-drownings that had taken place at any given ford.

Subsequently, wooden bridges were also erected to provide a shortcut if the distance between the fords was overly excessive.

The first bridges were simple, uncovered structures. The floorboards, support, and side beams (called trusses) were subject to deterioration caused by rain and snow, as well as alternating freezes and thaws, thus resulting in continuous work on the bridges in order to maintain their integrity.

The first American “covered bridges” appeared in the 1700s when bridge engineers realized that the lifespan of a wooden bridges’ construct could be substantially increased if the side beams (truss work) could be sheathed in wood. In other words, the siding would take the brunt of the impact of adverse weather, in place of the actual support structure of the bridge.

However, before jumping to the conclusion that this is when the traditional roofed covered bridge concept was born, well, it was at least a beginning, because the first covered bridges had only their sides sheathed in planking, but they did not have a roof. Instead, each side had a peaked cap. 

These were called “boxed bridges,” of which few have survived to be seen today (one of the longest surviving boxed bridges exists in the Ralph Stover State Park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

However, as bridge engineering evolved, so did the development of the truss work that held them up. Yet, these new truss designs required the sides to be higher, and if only the sides were sheathed, this would have made them especially susceptible to collapsing in high winds.

The only obvious solution was to provide crossbeams to keep the sides upright. It was also determined that if a roof was added, it would further stabilize the entire structure. This “revelation” is generally credited to Swiss and German bridge engineers.

Thus, the true covered bridge was born, and the fact that the sheathing would prolong the life of the bridge far exceeded even their initial projections. Some of these bridges are still around and continue to be utilized by modern traffic 150 years after their original construction (some had steel beams added to their undersides to help with the added weight of modern-day vehicles).

The first true covered bridge was the Market Street Covered Bridge erected in 1805 in Philadelphia. After that, hundreds were constructed over rivers and streams in numerous states (some erected in the South were constructed without the side-sheathing… apparently, they “didn’t get the memo.”).

Why do they all resemble barns?  While the covered bridges were often designed by bridge engineers, most of them were erected by local barn-builders and woodworkers, so the mutual appearance is by no means merely coincidental!

Why are they always painted red or white? The bridges, like so many local farm buildings themselves, were painted according to the cheapest pigments available. Red paint was used where iron oxides (such as limonite) were readily available (white was sometimes added on the portals so that the locations of the sides could be readily recognized in the dark or during severe weather).  White paint was used where lime was more abundant (cheaper).

It should be noted here that “covered bridges” actually appeared during “Biblical times,” throughout Asia and Europe, but they were generally constructed of stone, with a roof added to enable the bridges to further double as indoor marketplaces.

Contrary to popular folklore, the bridges were not sheathed and covered to keep horses from panicking during a crossing. Not only was this never even a consideration, but those in the south where the sides weren’t sheathed, further dismissed that.

Another popular belief was that the bridges were sheathed and roofed to keep snow out. But, in fact, during winter weather, locals would form bucket brigades to “snow the bridge.” If there was no snow inside the bridge, the blades of the horse-drawn sleds would have torn the floorboards up.

So, how did they come to be called “kissing bridges?” Given the frequency of the carved initials of apparently young couples left in the wooden beams of many of the more secluded covered bridges, the reason is better left to the imagination.

By the end of the 1800s, iron and steel had replaced the wood in the construction of bridges, and America’s covered bridges began to gradually vanish, due to their having become the victims of obsoletion, floods, fire and arson, or abandonment.

The Roddy Road Covered Bridge is 40 feet long, 16 feet wide, with a 12-foot-8-inch clearance, built in 1856.

Sachs Covered Bridge, erected in 1854, is located off Pumping Station Road in Adams County, PA

List of Publicly Accessible Covered Bridges in Frederick and Adams Counties

Frederick County Covered Bridges

During the 1800s, there were more than 50 covered bridges that had been erected within Frederick County.

Loy’s Station Covered Bridge was erected in 1880. The 90-foot-long bridge is located where Old Frederick Road spans Owen’s Creek, near Thurmont. The bridge was damaged in an act of arson in 1991, but was subsequently restored.

Roddy Road Covered Bridge was constructed in 1856, and, as the name suggests, carries Roddy Road over Owens Creek, also near Thurmont. The 40-foot-long bridge was repaired in 1993 after an oversized truck damaged it. 

Utica Mills Covered Bridge, also constructed in 1850, and today carries Utica Mills Road over Fishing Creek. “Today” is used in reference to the 100-foot-long bridge, which was relocated to its present location from its original location on the Monocacy River after it was destroyed in a flood in 1889.

Adams County Covered Bridges

During the 1800s, there were more than 70 covered bridges that had been erected in Adams County.

Jack’s Mountain Covered Bridge was built in 1890 and conveys Jack’s Mountain Road over Toms Creek near Fairfield. The 75-foot-long bridge is the only covered bridge in Adams County permitting vehicular traffic. 

Sachs Covered Bridge, erected in 1854, spans Marsh Creek, and is located within a park located off Pumping Station Road. The 100-foot-long bridge survived the Battle of Gettysburg, but was completely destroyed in a severe flood in 1996. Much of the original wooden beams and other structures were recovered and subsequently incorporated into the rebuilt bridge. The bridge is open to the public. However, vehicles are forbidden to cross.

by James Rada, Jr.


Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners adopted the budget for Fiscal Year 2025 by adopting the constant yield real estate tax rate of 29.87 cents per $100 of assessed value of the property. The constant yield rate is the rate needed so that the town collects the same amount in taxes as the previous year, even if the assessments increase.

The new budget amounts to $5,311,658 in the general fund.

Also, although property taxes will remain flat, water and sewer rates will drastically increase in July, and electric rates will begin to fluctuate in January 2025 as the town moves to month-to-month rates that will hopefully net a lower overall rate for customers.

Commissioners’ Priorities for POS Money

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently reviewed their priorities for Fiscal Year 2025 Program Open Space funds. Mayor John Kinnaird noted that the fund pool is smaller this year. This could make it more difficult to get needed funding, depending on what the other municipalities in the county are seeking.

The Town of Thurmont is seeking:

$10,000 for a new pavilion, tables, and grills at Carroll Street Park.

$7,500 for a new scoreboard for the new East End Park softball field.

Solar lighting for the Eyler Road Park walkway—$13,000 for the front loop only or $26,000 for the entire loop.

If fully funded, these projects, under the current 90/10 match requirements, would need $4,350 in town funding.

Sewer and Water Rates Could Increase

After a review of the adequacy of water and sewer rates to generate the funds needed to operate, it has been recommended that the rates need to increase by at least 11 percent. The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners plan on holding a workshop about the rates and investigating the situation further.

Town Makes Annual Contributions

The Town of Thurmont recently presented checks to different organizations in town that provide needed services to town residents. The donations were:

•   Guardian Hose Co. – $30,000

•   Thurmont Community Ambulance – $30,000

•   Thurmont Food Bank – $6,000

•   Thurmont Ministerium – $1,000

Appointments Made

The Thurmont Police Department recently welcomed its newest police officer, Eduardo Alfonso Ballesteros, whom Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird swore into the department.

New members were also appointed to the Thurmont Parks and Recreation Commission with staggered terms to avoid having to appoint the entire commission at once. The new members of the commission are:

•   Amie McDaniels (term expires May 7, 2028).

•   Jim Robbins (term expires May 7, 2028).

•   Keith Myers (term expires May 7, 2028).

•   Carl Weber (term expires May 7, 2026).

•   Wes Hamrick (term expires May 7, 2026).


New Soccer League Proposed

A group of citizens approached the Emmitsburg Mayor and Board of Commissioners with a proposal for a new municipal soccer league. Andy Crum, who spoke to the board of commissioners, said that having a sports program in town is something the town has been missing. They submitted a proposal to the town for how the league could be established. It is still in the early stages with the organizers looking for town input and support for the league.

Town Approves Deputy Contract

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2025 contract for law enforcement services with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. The new contract is for $349,806, which is 18.22 percent higher than the previous contract. This includes a 6 percent increase to the deputy pay scale, along with the associated benefits. There is also an increase to the vehicle maintenance rates and fuel costs.

New Park Bathroom/Concession Stand Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners had to approve a new contract with South-Midland for a new pre-fabricated bathroom/concession stand in the E. Eugene Myers Park that will be located near the disc golf course and the ball field. The building is 23’4” x 19’-4” x 9’ high and is precast. The cost includes the delivery to the site.

The board previously approved a cost of $217,124 at the March 4, 2024, town meeting. However, it turned out that cost was no longer valid. The new estimate was for $239,531, which the board approved.

Budget Transfers Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved the transfer of excess general fund money from the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. The town had a surplus of $446,287 that was transferred to capital improvement projects.

Excess revenue of $243,104 in FY 2023 with interest generated $110,000 additional revenue, and real estate taxes/local income taxes generated at $88,000 additional revenue.

The expenses for FY 2023 were also $203,182 less than anticipated.

Commissioners Get a First Look at the Budget

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners got their initial look at the Fiscal Year 2025 budget. The real estate tax will remain the same at 34 cents per $100 assessed value. Highway User Funds are up, but State Aid to Police will be decreasing. The budget also includes a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for employees, which is below average. It also includes two potential new positions: a town operations specialist and a water and sewer operator.

The proposed general fund budget is $2,525,468, a 16 percent increase over the current year. The proposed general fund capital projects budget is $143,347 with $889,944 to remain in balance.

The proposed stormwater management fund is $26,889, a 459 percent increase over the current year.

The proposed water fund is $215,570, a 1,945 percent increase. It should be noted that this fund will lose money this fiscal year.

The proposed sewer fund is $215,146, a 395 percent increase. It should be noted that this fund will lose money this fiscal year.


Mayor John Kinnaird

On Saturday, May 11, Karen and I attended the remembrance ceremony for Commissioner Bill Buehrer. The gathering was held at Stauffer’s Funeral Home on Opposumtown Pike in Frederick and was well attended. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people there that I knew. Since Bill and I were not social friends, I had the chance to meet many of his and Colleen’s relatives, personal friends, and business associates. Bill and I spent a considerable amount of time together at town meetings and municipal events. He was a true fan and great supporter of Thurmont, and he is missed dearly.

There was no formal service, but Colleen invited anyone to get up and talk about their experiences with Bill and share a humorous story about him. Several got up to speak and told us how Bill had befriended them and how nice a guy he was. After some thought, I got up to the microphone to share my amusing Bill story. But, first, I gave a little background on how Bill and I met. We met sitting in the back row at the town office while attending town meetings. As those who have been here long enough will remember, they were a pretty raucous and discouraging affair. We sat through some pretty bad meetings, and after an especially difficult stretch of meetings, we both told each other that we were going to run for office. There were several things we disagreed with, one being the effort to silence public comment during town meetings, and another was how residents were treated during the meetings. One of the biggest issues we saw was that there was a three-to-two vote on almost everything that came to a vote. Sadly, the majority vote was not always for the good of the community but rather was a vote to railroad something or as a spiteful or vindictive measure. Bill and I ran and were both successful in our campaigns. I proudly served with Bill for 12 years, every one of which was immensely productive for our community.

Now, to my funny story about Bill. We never agreed on everything, but we could each easily have a laugh at the other’s expense. One time, he was upset with me about something, and he couldn’t think of anything to say other than, “At least some of us know how to shine our shoes.” I remember looking at him and asking what the heck that meant! Then, I pointed out that I was dressed in my typical work attire of a workshirt, work pants, and work boots. I also pointed out that he was dressed in his work clothes: a suit, tie, and shiny shoes. I asked him what the difference was, and he couldn’t tell me! We parted good friends that evening, as we did every day we saw each other.

Some people thought Bill was tough or that he could be hard-headed. I know Bill was a real softy on the inside. I remember the evening when he announced that Governor Hogan had been diagnosed with cancer. Bill got all choked up just talking about it. Bill suffered from cancer, and we spoke about it often. One day, I bumped into him at the radiation therapy lab at Johns Hopkins, and we both spoke at length about our battles with cancer. Any doubt regarding the size of his heart should have been squashed if you paid any attention to how much of himself he poured into the Gateway to the Cure Cancer Fundraiser every year. We would not have been as successful without Bill’s unwavering support and hard work.

I, for one, miss Bill immensely.


Mayor Frank Davis

The month of May seems like a blur, but it gave me the opportunity to experience a different side of the mayor’s position.

On Saturday, May 4, I was honored to deliver the welcoming address to the families of 226 firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. Having the time to talk with the families and hear their stories was an experience that will stay in my heart. It also brought back the memories of 25 years ago when our town honored one of our own. Terry L. Myers, a 33-year member of the Vigilant Hose Company, died while battling a brush fire. His name is permanently etched in stone at the Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the campus of the National Emergency Training Center.

On May 21, I attended the graduation ceremony for the Catoctin High School (CHS) Class of 2024. As I watched each student receive their diploma, I could picture how each one will have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world in the years to come. I am proud to be a CHS graduate and amazed by the teachers and staff who continue to mentor our students year after year. Success starts with great leadership, and Catoctin High has been blessed with Principal Jennifer Clements. I have personally witnessed her dedication to improving our school and her daily interaction with the students. GO COUGARS!!

A few months ago, I mentioned a new phone app that we would be launching to better communicate with you daily and, more importantly, in the event of an emergency. “My Emmitsburg” is up and running, and we will continue to add new features and information to keep you informed of the happenings of the town. This app can be downloaded from the Apple or Google store, or you can scan one of the many barcodes around town. If you need assistance, please contact the town office.

Some upcoming events for the month of June will include a youth baseball tournament held the first two weekends of the month. This will bring hundreds of players and spectators to town, so please graciously welcome them to our community. Flag Day is June 14, and the Francis X. Elder American Legion Post 121 will be holding a ceremony at 7:00 p.m. in Community Park off Chesapeake Avenue. To finish out the month is our Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day celebration on June 29. Please visit the website at for a list of events and activities.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns related to town business, please reach out to me and I will get back to you as soon as possible.


Burgess Heath Barnes

Greetings and welcome to summer. Summer is my favorite season. With summer, also comes children being out of school. I urge you to use caution as more children will be out and about enjoying their summer break and may not always be aware when they are crossing the street, etc.

At our May 2nd meeting—held earlier in the month so that we could meet the minimum of 30-day notice of giving out the budget before voting on it—we had a quiet meeting. I would like to thank the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department for accommodating us and allowing us to use the facilities at the last minute, as our regular meeting place was being used.

Our June 11th meeting will be busy; we will be voting on the upcoming budget. Although not a lot of changes were made, a few had to be made to accommodate the ever-changing rise in prices for our water and sewer. I am also happy to announce that we have received an adjusted building cost proposal for the town hall. I will be presenting that to the council, along with financing options from Woodsboro Bank to be voted on. The hope is that we can make this new proposal quote work, and we will finally be starting the much-anticipated town hall.

We had several exciting events in Woodsboro during May. The first was the celebration of Woodsboro Banks’ 125th anniversary. They are the oldest locally owned bank in the county, and the ceremony brought elected officials and members from government offices from across the county and state to Woodsboro for the celebration. In addition, long-time bank employee JR Delauter was able to secure a historic plaque for the building from the Frederick County Landmarks Association. It is very exciting. The building that houses the headquarters was built in 1901, and at one time, was the home of the opera house, the post office, and many other things, as well as the bank. The first artisan farmers market was held at Trout’s grocery store on May 19, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., moved due to rain. The annual Memorial Day parade, put on by the American Legion, will be held on Sunday, May 26. It is a wonderful event for our town. Thank you in advance to all who participate in the parade or come out to enjoy it.

We did sign a contract, as requested by multiple town residents, with a new street sweeper company. We are going to begin having them sweep four times a year, but we may increase to six times per year based on the need.

As always, I encourage everyone to support Glade Valley Community Services (GVCS) if you have clothes or food donations, as they are always in need of items for members of the community. For more information, please contact GVCS by email at or call 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164.

Woodsboro town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, planning and zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. John’s United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

Emmitsburg’s Gem Theater

Emmitsburg’s lone theater, which was located at 125 West Main Street, provided not only theatrical entertainment to the community but also hosted social events and fundraisers.

The earliest mention of Emmitsburg’s Gem Theater appeared in the November 1933 edition of The (Hanover) Evening Sun, when according to the Sun, “Fire broke out in the projection room of the Gem Theater about 10 o’clock Saturday during the last show,” adding, “The flames caused quite a commotion among those in the theater.”

However, the flames were extinguished by projectionist. Arthur Elder, using an “emergency fire exterminator.”  The newspaper noted that the fire did not cause “much damage.”  The causation of the fire was attributed to “a broken film (that was) ignited by an arc light.”

Beginning in  December 1934, the management of the Gem Theater had initiated an annual tradition by offering local children an opportunity to attend free movies during the Christmas season festivities being held in Emmitsburg.  Specifically, in December1935, the children were treated to a free western, according to The (Hanover) Evening Sun, a luxury for the children whose families were financially caught-up in the Great Depression.

In 1940, the owner/manager of the Gem Theater was identified as having been Harry T. Bollinger. Also in 1940, as the United States slid toward an inescapable collision of nations comprising the Second World War, the Gem Theater focused on local needs, and during July 1940 that a special two-night movie would be shown for the benefit of an Emmitsburg playground, The Sun reported. 

In 1952, The Sun identified a new owner of the Gem as being John G. Miller, who also owned the Taneytown Theater and a soon-to-open “open air” theater at Bridgeport. 

The Gem apparently continued to operate normally until the summer of 1954, which “had been closed most of the summer,” according to The Sun, but before it had reopened, the theater was leased by Miller to Clifford “Kayo” Keilholtz and William Rogers. 

Whatever transpired in the wake of that arrangement, it was not noted that the theater would re-open until November 2, 1955, under the new management of “Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Clem.” However, The Sun reported that the theater had been upgraded with a new wide-screen, and an enlarged concession stand.

But the end of the Gem was rapidly approaching. The (Frederick) News reported in October 1960 that the Gem Theater, “which has been closed for several years” will reopen on October 21, and is presently now under new management, and that the theater had undergone “extensive remodeling and improvements.” 

By December 1960, the theater reopened under a new name, the “MG Theater,” according to The News. No explanation was provided regarding the change of franchise, but the newly re-dubbed theater was going to continue with the Christmas holiday tradition of free movies for the area children, a tradition which was continued into 1963.

Bruce Hollinger, II, formerly of Emmitsburg, stated that his father was a partner in the theater operation going into the 1960s, during the effort to save the Gem/MG Theater, noting that the effort  was to have been “more of a benefit to the residents, rather than a profit-making endeavor.”

In spite of those efforts, in 1964, the Gem/MG Theater closed its doors forever, and the building was subsequently converted into apartments.

Emmitsburg area resident David Little recalled that, “The (theater seat) cushions were brown and thick, and you walked in aisles (to get to them) , and then to sit, you pushed the back-up, (whereas), nowadays you push the seat down to sit.”

Little and his family lived above the bowling alley at the time when the Gem was still in business and noted that whenever the doors of the theater were opened, “ We could smell the buttered popcorn from across the street.” He said admission for a matinee showing was ten cents. “My mother would give me a quarter for a Saturday afternoon matinee movie, candy, and a coke.”

 The former 125 West Main Street location of the Gem Theater.

Richard D. L. Fulton

Fatty Maschii Parole Femine (Strong Deeds, Gentle Words)

– The motto of the State of Maryland

On March 24, 1934, America celebrated the 300th anniversary of the founding of the colony of Maryland through the issuance by the United States Postal Service of a 3-cent stamp.

First Day of Issue cancellations of the stamps were conducted at the post office in Saint Mary’s City—the first capital of Maryland—and at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the United States Postal Service. The Saint Mary’s City cancellation is more desirable than the Washington, D.C. cancellation.

The carmine-red stamps depicted the two ships, the Ark and the Dove, that had arrived from England with the first European colonists, who disembarked at Point Comfort near a location that would eventually become Saint Mary’s City.

According to, the Ark, a three-master (meaning it had the main sails) was described as having a 400-ton cargo capacity, while the Dove, a two-master (meaning it had two main sails) was a small vessel capable of carrying some 40 tons of cargo.

The Ark carried approximately 140 to 150 colonists, comprised of a mix of Catholics and Protestants, and their servants, and the ship’s crew members. The ship was leased by Cecil Calvert for the trip.

It is believed that the Dove was mainly manned by only the crew, according to Chesapeake Magazine, and was, by design, a lighter vessel intended in this instance to be utilized by Calvert to engage in coastal trade.

Not among the passengers aboard the Ark was Cecil (Cecilius) Calvert, who inherited the land that would become Maryland when his father, Geroge Calvert, died in 1632.

King Charles I had granted Calvert’s father a request for a colony in the “New World,” to be called the Province of Maryland, dubbed Terra Mariae. But the charter enabling the act was not consummated until after Calvert’s father’s death, so the charter fell to the survivors, resulting in Cecil Calvert embarking enroute to the Mid-Atlantic Coast of America in order to bring the dream of his father into reality, thereby establishing the colony of Maryland.

According to “Founding of Maryland – Educational Project for Elementary and Middle School Students,” written by Maria A. Day, an archival intern with the Maryland State Archives, “He (Cecil) did not have his father’s years of experience at governing colonies. No one knew what kind of leader Cecil might turn out to be when the king named him Lord Proprietor of Maryland.”

Nevertheless, he elected to remain in England to protect the integrity of his charter, apparently feeling there were those who would seek to repeal this father’s charter. He sent his brother, Leonard, overseas in his place, along with a set of instructions on how to govern the colony, entitled, “Instructions to the Colonists by Lord Baltimore (Cecil held the title of the Second Lord Baltimore, although he had never been there).”

Among the instructions was the intent to ensure that whatever conflicts existed between religions in England stayed in England and assured that “freedom of religion” would become the policy of the colony of Maryland. The instructions would become the basis for Maryland law.

Leonard Calvert, along with Cecil Calvert’s instructions, and 140 to 150 Catholics and Protestants, set sail from the Isle of Wight, England, on November 22, 1633. They arrived in Barbados in January 1633, and then sailed to Point Comfort (Virginia), having arrived there on February 24, 1634.

A month later, the colonists sailed up the Chesapeake Bay and then to one of the Potomac River islands, arriving there on March 25, subsequently establishing Saint Mary’s City, thereby making that community as having been Maryland’s first European settlement and the state’s first capital.

Things remained peaceful in the new colony until 1645 when a force commanded by anti-Catholic Richard Ingle attacked Saint Mary’s City, taking a number of prisoners, while Leonard Calvert was forced to flee to Virginia for nearly a year, according to the Maryland State Archives.

 First Day Cover of Maryland Tercentenary stamp, cancelled March 23, 1934, at Saint Mary’s City.

People in Garrett County today can’t remember a time when the county didn’t have Deep Creek Lake, although there was one. As Deep Creek Lakes turns 100 years old (in 2025), most people consider it a magnificent tourist attraction in Garrett County and the largest freshwater lake in Maryland. Both are true, but Deep Creek Lake didn’t start out that way.

Catoctin Banner Contributer/Editor James Rada, Jr. has compiled the forgotten stories of places around (and under) the lake and people who have enjoyed Deep Creek Lake, dating back to well beyond the lake’s creation. Secrets of Deep Creek Lake: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History In and Around Maryland’s Largest Lake is the latest book in his Secrets series.

When you think of Deep Creek Lake, you probably imagine boating, swimming, and scenic vistas. But did you know…

•   The man who created the Big Mac sandwich helped create some of the lake’s tourist attractions?

•   Deep Creek Lake was created on top of two other lakes?

•   Garrett County’s version of Lizzie Borden lived on the south side of what is now the lake?

•   The CIA dosed unknowing citizens with LSD at Deep Creek Lake?

•   Garrett County’s lost silver mine may be beneath Deep Creek Lake?

These are just some of the stories included in the new book Secrets of Deep Creek Lake: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History In and Around Maryland’s Largest Lake by James Rada, Jr.

This book tells stories of murder, lost treasure, famous visitors, moonshine, interesting people, and unusual incidents. These are the types of stories that you won’t read about in history textbooks. They are stories that define the county’s character.

“These are stories that caught my attention in one way or another,” Rada said. “They aren’t the types of stories you find in history books about the area, but they are part of Garrett County’s past.”

Secrets of Deep Creek Lake contains more than 60 black and white photographs and illustrations that help bring the stories to life.

“I love writing about history,” Rada said. “I love finding interesting and unusual stories about people and places, and I haven’t come across an area that doesn’t have plenty of these stories.”

Secrets of Deep Creek Lake is the eighth book in Rada’s Secrets series. Other local titles include Secrets of Catoctin Mountain, Secrets of the C&O Canal, and Secrets of the Gettysburg Battlefield.

James Rada, Jr. is an author and award-winning writer who Midwest Book Review called “a writer of considerable and deftly expressed storytelling talent.” He has been writing about history for nearly 25 years and still finds it fascinating and new.

“History is not boring. It’s full of love, adventure, comedy, and mysteries that still aren’t solved to this day. It’s those types of stories I like to write, and I believe I’ve pulled together a great collection of them for this book,” Rada said.

Rada is the author of 36 books, most history and historical fiction. His articles have been published in magazines like The History Channel Magazine, Boy’s Life, and Frederick Magazine.

For more information about James Rada’s books, visit his website at

Chocolate Park by Wib Davis   Submitted by Joan Bittner Fry

This article appeared in the July 30, 1977 edition of The Record Herald, Waynesboro, PA.

Remember Blue Mountain Chocolates?

The Cascade area-based candy factory was operated by the B. R. Summers family. The chocolate factory came into existence in 1920 after Summers’ two sons, Harris and Walter, came home from the Army at the end of World War I.

A German candy maker by the name of Jensen operated a boarding house near the lower gate of Camp Ritchie. He also made candy in the kitchen of his place. Jensen’s confections were sold in Waynesboro at the Clarence Croft Drug Store in Center Square.

The Summers brothers got interested in the candy business and persuaded their father to sell his coal feed and grain business and finance their venture. The elder Summers sold his business to W. B. Thompson. Summers also sold his fruit farm near Quincy.

The Summers trio purchased Jensen’s candy recipes and in 1920 constructed a large brick building opposite the Jensen place to house their operation. The building was built at a cost of $50,000.

The candy was called Blue Mountain Chocolates and found a ready market in Waynesboro, Hagerstown, and as far away as Baltimore and Washington. Vacationers in the mountain area purchased much of the candy to take home to their friends. This spread the popularity of the candy. In Waynesboro the Croft Drug Store had the lone franchise.

Jensen stayed with the Summers family until they were entirely familiar with the business and then returned to Germany.

The factory’s busiest times were Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and Easter. The candy was kept in cold rooms until delivered to the dealers. The factory employed 20 to 25 people.

In the late 20s, a swimming pool and picnic area were added and named Chocolate Park.

The trolley tracks, connecting Pen Mar and Blue Ridge Summit ran close to the fence along one side of the pool. Walter Summers, a physical fitness buff, was the lifeguard. Holidays and weekends through the summer there were wall-to-wall people. During the summer season the candy factory had a roadside booth for the sale of confections.

The factory closed down in the fall of 1940 and John B. Eader took over the property for a shirt mill. The mill burned in 1941. The roadside booth was purchased by Joe Greenawalt and blossomed into a tavern and dance pavilion, retaining the name “Chocolate Park.” The tavern is still in operation.

by becky dietrich     Submitted by Joan Bittner Fry

This article appeared in the December 5, 1975 edition of The Record Herald.

Why do people drink beer in a place called “Chocolate Park?” Because there was once a man named Jansen, from Germany, who made delicious chocolates in his home to sell. An investor from out of town was impressed with the quality of the candy and built the factory for quantity production. Blue Mountain Candy was well known to the many people who summered in this resort area.

Next to the candy company a small concession and park, complete with swimming pool, opened up sometime in the late 20s or early 30s. There, the soldiers at Camp Albert C. Ritchie would have sandwiches and milk shakes during summer encampment breaks. Now for those of you too young to recall, don’t snicker at the thought of soldiers drinking milk shakes. The only other thing to drink came from the moonshiner, Old Man Poole (remember Prohibition?) up on the reservoir road who, no doubt did a booming business.

It wasn’t until 1933 that 3.2 beer was sold legally and then the former Chocolate Park concession stand became a popular “R & R” spot. Sometime in the late 30s the chocolate company, which by this time had gone out of business and converted to a textile company, burned to the ground. Very shortly thereafter the present Chocolate Park was built on the concession spot. Various owners tried to change the name and call it the “Three J’s” or the “Knotty Pine Inn,” but the original name stuck. Its much-frequented bar gave hearty competition to “The Red Hen” up in Pen Mar and “The Blue Goose” on McAfee Hill (which was then the Germantown Road).

During the war a captain at Post Headquarters was finally alerted to a mass deception that had worked for weeks. Every time he sought a certain sergeant or corporal he was told “Sorry, sir, he’s just gone to the CP (Command Post).” One day during duty hours when Chocolate Park’s bar was well lined with beer and men, the captain’s jeep pulled quickly behind the building – and there was a mad dash for the exit. Too late! To the amazement of all conspirators the captain walked in, ordered a beer and said. “So this is the new CP.”

A hush prevailed until he’d finished his beer, gone to the door, and turned to say, “Gentlemen, finish your drinks and report to my office!” A disquieted group soon reported in to hear the ultimatum “In the future there had better be only ONE CP! Dismissed!”

My mother, Helen Miller, was working at Blue Mountain Chocolate Company in 1931, the year she and my father, Harold Bittner, were married. J. Fry.

Alisha Yocum

Despite the weather not being particularly conducive to baseball, Thurmont Little League (TLL) families and local community members gathered for a great day of baseball at Opening Day on Saturday, April 6, to mark the beginning of the 2024 season.

The spirit of America’s beloved pastime prevailed as a large American flag flew proudly above the field, courtesy of Big Hook Crane & Rigging, setting the perfect ambiance for Opening Day.

TLL President Alex Kline led the ceremony, which included the announcement of all the baseball players, from T-ball through the Majors Divisions—a total of 252 players!

The ceremony continued with traditions like the Little League pledge; the volunteer pledge, led by Chief Armstrong from the Thurmont Police Department; the presentation of colors by the Cub Scout Pack 270; and, of course, the ceremonial first pitch.

This year, TLL selected Craig Mayne, owner of Ace Hardware, to do the honor of throwing out the first pitch. Mayne has been a huge supporter of the league; he donated first aid kits to every team this year.

As the players and families battled the blistering winds, the celebrations concluded with the singing of the National Anthem by Allie Bryant, a freshman at Catoctin High School.

Festivities continued throughout the day, with the Baltimore Orioles Bird and Keyote from the Frederick Keys stopping by to take pictures with fans. Food trucks were also on-site, as well as local community businesses and organizations.

TLL would like to thank all of the 2024 season sponsors: 10 Tavern, Acacia Lodge No.155, Ace Hardware/Cousins Hardware Inc., Amber Hill Therapy Centers, American Legion Edwin C Creeger Jr. Post 168, Catoctin Dental, Catoctin Wildlife and Preserve, Center of Life Chiropractic, CF Kerns Trucking LLC, DJ’s Glass & Mirror Inc., David W. Coblentz Trucking, Davisystems LLC, Emmitsburg Glass Company, G&S Electric, Gateway Automotive, Hessong Bridge Contractors LLC, J&B Real Estate –Elle Smith, Keilholtz Trucking Services Inc., Kelco Plumbing & Backhoe Service LLC, Kline’s Plumbing LLC, Land Care, Mick’s Plumbing & Heating, Mission Property Services LLC, Mother Seton School, PJ’s Roofing Inc., Roy Rogers, Senior Benefit Services Inc., South Mountain, Collision & Auto Center, Staub’s Custom Woodworks, Inked, T-Mobile, The Dirty Dawg, Thurmont AMVETS Post 7, Thurmont Childcare, Thurmont Kountry Kitchen, Tim’s Garage, Tommy West Memorial Fund, Tyrian Lodge 205, Vinores Financial Services, and Woodsboro Bank.

Festivities continued throughout the day, with the Baltimore Orioles Bird and Keyote from the Frederick Keys stopping by to take pictures with

Cub Scout Pack 270 presents the colors during the Thurmont Little League Opening Day.

Allie Bryant sings the National Anthem during the Thurmont Little League Opening Day Ceremony.

by James Rada, Jr.


Town Considering Adjusting Water and Sewer Rates

Chris Simms with Smart Utilities Management talked with the commissioners about the need to raise water and sewer rates in town.

The town’s water rates haven’t been adjusted since 2012, and the water system is starting to run at a deficit as the capital reserves in the enterprise fund have been used. In 2023, the fund just covered costs, and this year, it will have a $200,000 deficit.

Increasing costs due to inflation are the reason that the need to adjust the rate is happening.

Simms suggested increasing the rate by 15 percent for the fiscal year 2025, with possible increases of 15 percent in the next two years, if needed, to bring the budget back into line with where it needs to be.

A 15 percent increase to rates would increase the average home’s water bill by $10 a quarter and a $15 per quarter increase in the average sewer bill. This means that the average homeowner’s bill will increase by a total of $100 a year.

New Police And Commission Members Sworn In

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently swore in new Thurmont Police Officer Kevin Eyler. They also swore in new planning and zoning commission members, Grant Johnson, as a regular member, and Vincent Cover as the alternate member. Their term will end on March 5, 2029.

Town Approves New Bonds

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted recently to allow the town to issue bonds not to exceed $2.4 million to pay for needed infrastructure improvements.


. Water Treatment Plant Clarifier and Dam Engineering Bids Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a bid for the construction of a water clarifier at the water treatment plant on Crystal Fountain Road. Conewago submitted the low bid of $2,329,561. It was 7 percent lower than the town engineer’s estimate and 6.07 percent lower than the second-lowest bid.

In a somewhat related action, the commissioners also approved a bid for engineering services on the Emmitsburg dam, which is required by the Maryland Department of the Environment. After two inspections of the dam, MDE required six things that the town needed to do to bring the dam into compliance. CPJ of Silver Spring won the contract with a bid of $72,426 and will perform all the compliance items MDE requires. Town staff was impressed by the depth of the inspection that CPJ’s performed.

Two-hour Time Limit on Parking Removed and Meter Fees Increased

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted to remove the two-hour parking limit on Main Street, which will now allow vehicles to park for 48 hours on the street without needing to be moved.

The commissioners also voiced to increase the parking meter fee to 25 cents for a half hour and 50 cents for an hour.

Citation Box Removed

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted to remove the red citation box at the old town office on East Main Street. According to town staff, the box is not being used, and there are alternate ways for citations to be paid, such as using the black citation box at the town office or mailing the payment to the office.

Rainbow Lake Pump House Bridge Replacement Approved

The bridge at the Rainbow Lake pump house has been found to be structurally flawed and hazardous. According to a safety report, it is no longer straight and shakes when walked upon. This will hinder work at the pump house because it can’t be used, especially to carry heavy items across.

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted to hire PlasTech in Baltimore to replace the bridge with a new one made of a Fiberglass material and has a life expectancy of more than 50 years. It will also be fitted to the valve house and concrete structure of the dam. The cost of the contract is $160,959.

New Bid Approved for Depaul St. Water Line

Although the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a bid to replace 2,340 feet of an 8-inch iron water line, that contractor withdrew its bid. This required the commissioners to award the bid a second time. Besides the water line, fire hydrants will be replaced, the pavement and side will be replaced, and traffic will need to be managed.

Huntsberry Brothers was awarded the contract for $1,217,250. It will be paid for with funds from three different grants.


Mayor John Kinnaird

May is here, and nature is treating us to a spectacularly colorful show! I love seeing the mountain as the green leaves appear at the bottom and rise to the top over a few weeks. The amazing weather will also bring out bike riders, hikers, skateboarders, and runners. Be sure to give plenty of right-of-way for our neighbors and guests as they enjoy the great outdoors.

This month, I want to thank our community volunteers. Thurmont has several citizen commissions, including Planning & Zoning, Board of Appeals, Police Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Thurmont Addiction Commission, Ethics Commission, and Thurmont Green Team. Positions on these commissions are filled by community volunteers. Each and every one of these volunteers serves our community by sacrificing their free time to attend meetings and events, and they are deserving of our thanks and gratitude. Openings on all the commissions are advertised, and members are selected to serve for a term that averages four years. I encourage everyone to please consider applying for these positions as they are available. Being a volunteer not only helps our town, but the act of serving the community can be personally satisfying.

Recently, the Thurmont Police Commission, Woodsboro Bank, and Thurmont Police Department sponsored the Community Shred Event. The shred event is held twice a year at the Thurmont Police Department. Residents can bring as many as five boxes of personal, medical, business, financial, service, and other paper records to have securely shredded at no cost. Members of the Police Commission, Woodsboro Bank employees, and Police officers help by unloading boxes and placing the documents in the large bin before it is dumped into the shredder. Residents don’t even have to get out of their cars, but they are welcome to park and observe their papers being shredded if they desire to do so. As part of this biannual event, residents are encouraged to bring along a cash or nonperishable food donation for the Thurmont Food Bank. All the individuals helping with this event are also volunteers!

The Thurmont Green Team sponsored its annual Greenfest with the help of the Thurmont Regional Library. Last week’s Greenfest featured 28 tabletop displays, with crafts and educational material for various ecological and conservation topics. The Greenfest had over 600 attendees and was a great success. The Town of Thurmont received our eighth straight Tree City USA award during the Greenfest. A large part of this award comes from the hard work of volunteers who help plant trees and flowers in Thurmont. Several hundred trees have been planted by volunteers, including school children, Scouts, adults, and Green Team members. You may have noticed the beautiful daffodils that sprung up around town this spring, which were also planted by Green Team volunteers! The Green Team also helps with invasive plant control and flower gardens on our Trolley Trail. Thurmont has always enjoyed a beautiful green canopy; the efforts of these volunteers will help ensure our community has trees to enjoy well into the future.

Thurmont is fortunate to have several wonderful organizations that work hard to make our community the best possible place to live in Frederick County. The Thurmont Lions Club sponsored the Annual Easter Egg Hunt in Community Park. The Lions have held this spring event for more than 80 years! The Lions Club holds many events throughout the year to raise funds for its many community projects. I attended the Thurmont Grange #409 Annual Awards ceremony, where they recognized several residents for their continued support of agriculture in the community. The Grange named the Thurmont Kountry Kitchen as business of the year for their support of local children during the pandemic and their fundraising efforts for our neighbors in need. I also attend events sponsored by Thurmont Scouting. We have an amazing Scout organization that educates children in outdoor activities, sporting events, and valuable guidance so that the Scouts grow into productive, considerate, and well-rounded community members. The Scouts also hold a yearly drive to collect toys for Toys For Tots. This joint venture with the United States Marine Corps helps provide Christmas gifts for many less fortunate children in our region.

There are many other groups and associations that work selflessly to improve the lives of our residents and make our community the best it can be.

These volunteers have many reasons for doing what they do. Every one of them helps because of a deep-seated desire to improve the lives of others. They don’t expect much in return, but we, as a community, owe all of them a great deal of gratitude for their sacrifices. Again, I would like to thank the members of the town commissions and all the members of our many community organizations for all they do for our community. You may not always be thanked for your service—and, unfortunately, there are those who are critical—but each of you should be assured that the majority of our community appreciates your hard work and commitment.

I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful month of May. As always, I can be reached by phone at 301-606-9458 or by email at


Mayor Frank Davis

As we are halfway through the spring season, it is the time of year to work on your list of chores that have built up over the winter. You also need to take time and enjoy other activities, and May is full of things to do.

On May 3-5, we will, once again, host the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service. This will bring families from across the country to Emmitsburg as part of the healing process from losing a loved one in the line of duty. Please help me welcome our guests and make them feel at home during their visit.

The Emmitsburg Eagles PTO will be hosting a Spring Festival on May 4 at the E. Eugene Myers Community Park. There will be vendors and activities for the whole family.

The Emmitsburg Lions Club will hold a Chicken BBQ at the VHC Activities Building on Creamery Road on May 4.

The Vigilant Hose Company will hold its much-anticipated Annual Spring Fling at the Activities Building on Creamery Road on May 11.

Mount Saint Mary’s University will hold its 2024 graduation ceremony, which will bring family members of the graduates to celebrate this exciting event, on May 11.

Please check the organization’s social media sites for more details.

I am excited that we are kicking off our new Citizen Alert and Notification Application. Please visit the town website at for more information.

Finally, I know many of you have experienced water issues during the last 30 days, and we appreciate your understanding. We have had several incidents that contributed to low pressure and brown water. The fire hydrant system was used for a fire incident, along with annual hydrant flushing and flow testing. We experienced two water main breaks and a malfunction with a pressure-reducing valve. We are taking steps to minimize these disruptions and will continue to upgrade our water system to reduce the effects to your homes and businesses.

I will be out and about walking the neighborhoods daily, and I hope to meet and chat with you to talk about your thoughts on our great little town.


Burgess Heath Barnes

Greetings and happy May. This is one of my favorite months as we transition into the summer. I always personally associate the Memorial Day Holiday with the beginning of the fun summer months.

At our April 9 meeting, we were joined by the builders who are going to build nine townhouses on Second Street. He informed us that construction will begin before the end of the year, and once started, will go up rather quickly. As far as the town hall update, we are awaiting the updated rate proposal from the builder to take a vote on it with the council. We are hoping that we will have these numbers to present at the next meeting.

Our May meeting will be held on Thursday, May 2, at 7:00 p.m., instead of the usual second Tuesday of the month. Due to scheduling conflicts with council members and the importance of the May meeting, we moved it to accommodate. We are hopeful that at the May meeting, we will have a town hall updated bid proposal to bid on. We will present our fiscal 2025 year budget proposal to the council, which will then be voted on for approval at the June 11 meeting. Per code, the budget has to be given to the council at least 30 days before taking a vote on it, so that is why the meeting was moved to earlier in May.

Some upcoming exciting happenings are going on in Woodsboro. The first will be the artisan farmers market to be held at Trout’s Grocery Store on May 18, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The second will be the annual Memorial Day parade that is put on by the American Legion and will take place on Sunday, May 26, at 1:00 p.m.

Mary, our town clerk, is in negotiations with another street sweeper company since the one that we were using disappeared without notice. We have heard the concerns from residents regarding the buildup along the streets and gutters.

As always, I encourage everyone to support Glade Valley Community Services (GVCS) if you have clothes or food donations, as they are always in need of items for members of the community. For more information, please contact GVCS by email at or by calling 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164.

Woodsboro town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, planning and zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. John’s United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

James Rada, Jr.

The Town of Emmitsburg is debuting its app, My Emmitsburg, this month. You can download it from the town website or wherever you get your apps.

“This is a big thing for us,” said Emmitsburg Mayor Frank Davis. “We want everyone to have a way to receive alerts for emergencies or when roads are closing or just a way to get important information.”

Thurmont has also developed its own app to aid both residents and visitors. Economic Development Director Vickie Grinder introduced the app to the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners during a recent meeting.

Besides timely information, the apps include business information, the ability to pay town bills online, school information, and links to the town’s social media sites.

Davis said one of the most frequent comments they get in the town office is that residents feel like they don’t know what’s going on. The town has its website and Facebook page, but town staff have found that a lot of residents still don’t use social media.

“Our goal is to reach 80 percent of the town with the app,” Davis said.

To accomplish this, the town will be making a big push in the coming months to get the word out, so residents will be seeing the QR code to download the app on signs throughout the town.

Davis credits the Town of Taneytown for the idea of creating an app. They have been using an app for town services for months with great success. It took about a month and a half to develop Emmitsburg’s version.

Thurmont’s app was worked on for over a year, and Grinder said it is nothing like Taneytown’s app. “This was a lot of information to pull together,” she said.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird said that he was “quite surprised” at the amount of information that can be found on the app and that it is “an amazing tool.”

Davis felt so strongly that the town would benefit from having a similar app that he used money from the mayor’s discretionary fund and the contracts fund to pay for the app development.

“If that’s what it takes to reach our residents, then it’s well worth it,” Davis said.

Picture shows the home screen of the new Town of Thurmont app that will help both residents and visitors keep on top of what is happening in Thurmont.

The Eisenhower Farm Story

Richard D. L. Fulton

Dwight ”Ike”  D. Eisenhower was born on October 14, in Denison, Texas, the son of David D. and Elizabeth Eisenhower (the spelling of Eisenhower was changed from its original spelling of Eisenhauer, which had been the last name of his great-grandfather).

Eisenhower married Mary “Mamie” in 1914 and would remain with her until his death at the  Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC, in 1968.  The couple had two sons: Doud “Ikky” Dwight Eisenhower (1917-1921) and John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower (1922-2013).

Eisenhower is probably best known as the World War II commander of the Allied forces in Europe, and as the two-term president of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

He may be somewhat lesser known for his command of Camp Colt, a training ground for the United States Army’s first armored tank crews, which sprawled in and around the Gettysburg battlefield in 1918—40 years before he and his wife would see and find a permanent home in Cumberland Township, just outside of the Gettysburg Borough (see “Gettysburg’s Camp Colt Birthplace of American Armor,” by Richard D. L. Fulton, January 2024 Catoctin Banner).

Regardless of the farm’s actual geographic location, it was generally always referred to as Eisenhower’s Gettysburg farm, and/or Eisenhower’s Gettysburg home.

Buying the farm was actually the idea of Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie.  In a story written, entitled “Mamie Eisenhower Says Gettysburg is Her Home,” by the Associated Press staff, and published in the September 5, 1952, edition of The Gettysburg Times, she (Mamie Eisenhower) stated in an interview that “buying the house (farm) was her idea.” 

The writer of the article stated that she said, “when she told her husband she liked that place, he had replied, ‘OK, go ahead and buy it’.”

Apparently, it did not require a lot of persistence for his wife to convince him to purchase the property. The Gettysburg Times stated in their November 20, 1950, edition, “The General was a frequent visitor… and has expressed a sentimental as well as a patriotic attachment to the Gettysburg region,” and later noted in a 1952 story that the general had (recently) stated, “I hope to rock out my last days on a comfortable porch here (in Gettysburg).”

The farm in question had been, prior to its sale to the Eisenhowers, known as the Redding Farm, owned by Allen Redding and his wife. The farm consisted of some 189 acres (also reported as 179 acres, and then again, as 188 acres), and the Eisenhowers had paid $40,000 for the farm, according to The Gettysburg Times.

The Reddings had purchased the farm from Mary Alice Hemler, wife of the deceased George Hemler, in 1934, during the Great Depression, for $15,000.

The Times reported on November 20, 1950, “Attorney Richard A. Brown said that he and John C. Bream, real estate dealer, had closed the deal (with the Eisenhowers) on November 1. And he had described the farm as a dairy farm “located on the road (Pumping Station Road) leading to the Gettysburg water works, adjoining West Confederate Avenue.” The old driveway still exists but is posted for National Park staff use only. Tourists now access the farm from Old Emmitsburg Road.

The farmhouse itself was described as a nine-room brick house. Mamie Eisenhower told the Associated Press, “Some of my friends are trying to persuade me to build a new place on one of the (farm’s) hills, but I fell in love with the old house first,” adding, “The house is mine and I love it. and all the trees around it.”

As to its proposed furnishing, she stated, “I can hardly wait to get my hands on that house and fix it up.” In response to someone suggesting that she should furnish it in Early American style, she had responded, “No, Early Eisenhower. We have picked things up wherever we have lived, and we (already) have furniture from all over the world.”

An article published in the January 1, 1951, issue of The Gettysburg Times, entitled “General ‘Ike’ goes to Europe,” noted that, according to a condition of sale, the Reddings would be permitted to remain on the farm until April 2, 1951,” adding, “It seems likely the General and Mrs. Eisenhower will eventually take up residence on the Redding farm.”

Additionally, The Times article noted that business in Europe had required the general’s attendance, to which his wife was not necessarily pleased, as it had postponed the move-in date to the farmhouse. She told the press she was disappointed at not going to the farm, that she thought she and the general were “old enough now to settle down.”

By November 1952, the Eisenhowers had still not relocated their primary residence to the farm.  The Eisenhowers’ property manager (retired Brigadier General Arthur S. Nevins, one of Eisenhower’s war-time staff officers) had described the condition of the farmhouse to The Gettysburg Times as “being in need of ‘considerable work’… before it could qualify as a presidential residence.”

In fact, after having been elected as president, and while living in the White House, the old farmhouse they would be calling “home” proved as having been a larger challenge than they had envisioned. 

According to the National Park Service, “Once Dwight and Mamie were in the White House, it was discovered that most of their Gettysburg home was in dire straits due to its advanced age and the deteriorating condition of the wooden interior,” further noting that the Eisenhowers were advised “to raze the home to the ground and start fresh.  However, Mrs. Eisenhower wished to save as much of the original home as possible, so she implemented a new plan that saved a portion of the 1800s structure.”

Presently, the effort to save that which could be saved is reflected in what tourists may see today. “That part of the home today contains the kitchen and butler’s pantry downstairs and the maid’s room upstairs. The older brick section has a rougher exterior appearance from the newer brick and is easily visible from outside the house. Because the older and newer bricks did not match, the house was painted white.” Construction began in the spring of 1953 and was finished in the spring of 1955. 

During Eisenhower’s two terms, the home was primarily used as a presidential retreat, and for meeting with and entertaining various world leaders. After leaving the White House at the end of the president’s second term, the Eisenhowers were finally able to move into their farmhouse in January 1961. The Gettysburg Times reported on January 12, 1961, “When the Eisenhowers come here on Friday (they actually didn’t arrive until January 20), they will go to their farm to rest after an arduous last day in the White House.”

On January 21, a reception and dinner were held at the Hotel Gettysburg. A “welcome home” rostrum was erected at the Town Square for general public reception, accompanied by music and a “brief welcome address,” The Times reported.

On that same morning, Eisenhower met with Oren H. Wilson, president of the board of trustees of the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church, to discuss matters relating to the local church. At the conclusion of their meeting, Eisenhower stepped outside, along with Wilson, and found himself confronted by reporters and photographers.

The Times reported that Eisenhower had asked the group why the people were still so interested in him. One reporter replied, because “We still like you.”

Following Eisenhower’s demise in 1969, the former president was laid to rest on the grounds of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas.

Former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower died in 1979, and was buried next to her husband.

As an aside, the Eisenhower property continued to function as an operating farm, primarily as a dairy farm, during the duration of their ownership. But, that alone, is yet another story…

For additional information, visit the National Park Service’s Eisenhower National Historic Site website at

Dwight D. Eisenhower and wife Mamie at their Gettysburg farm home.

British General Bernard Montgomery and Dwight D. Eisenhower touring the Gettysburg Battlefield in 1957.

Alisha Yocum

As you enter the Learning for Life (L4L) classroom at Catoctin High School (CHS), the smiles and laughter are contagious, and you can’t help but feel the love being spread by students and staff alike.

On the day I visited, students were in the middle of a lesson about vegetables. The students were planting seeds, which they hope will yield a harvest in the future with the help of the Science Department down the hall. Students were sharing their likes and dislikes of the vegetables pictured on the box of seeds—many of whom were not fond of beets. 

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) offers the L4L Program for students with a variety of developmental and cognitive disabilities. Through small class settings, students learn functional academic and life skills as they work to earn a High School Certificate of Completion. All ten high schools in the county have a L4L program, as well as Crestwood, Middletown, Oakdale, Walkersville, and West Frederick Middle Schools, and Glade, Monocacy, Orchard Grove, and Twin Ridge Elementary Schools.

This is the first year that the L4L program is being offered at CHS, with six students currently enrolled. Jessica Coblentz, a former L4L teacher at Monocacy Middle and a Special Education teacher at Thurmont Middle School, jumped at the opportunity to teach the L4L program when it became available. She currently leads the classroom along with Special Education Assistants, Brenda Triantis, Lacey Littleton, and Lizzie Dougherty. 

A typical day for L4L students at CHS includes a mixture of academics and life skills. Students have jobs that teach them skills to become more independent after high school. Two students help in CHS’s pre-school program, while the others go

off campus to the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve. There, students help with jobs like wiping down tables, setting up and preparing for upcoming events, and general cleaning.

Ashlyn Riggles, Relationship Visibility Champion, at Catoctin Wildlife Preserve said they love when the L4L students come to the preserve. “As the kids began coming, they got more excited and more comfortable with our staff. They began asking questions about animals and opening up about themselves.”

It is clear that the L4L students enjoy coming to school every day. When asked what they like about school, the word “Everything” was blurted out without hesitation from student Riley Elias. Although, when taking a minute to think about it, the parade seemed to be a crowd favorite. The L4L Program decorated and rode a float through the Homecoming Parade in the fall. The group came up with a theme and made the decorations themselves. Animals were another crowd favorite, from the animals they see at the zoo to the class pets and a new project, incubating eggs, which they are eagerly awaiting to hatch.

Another student, Josh Ramos, explained the black folders that are also part of their daily routines. Prior to coming to L4L, students relied on teachers to communicate with parents. As part of this program, students write in their folders every day and share what they did for the day and what activities they have coming up to learn responsibility.

Coblentz says she loves the flexibility the program offers to get the students what they need. If academics aren’t working in the morning, then they have the flexibility to adjust their schedule, and if things aren’t working, they can pause and have grace. Through this flexibility, Coblentz says she can see the growth in all the students from the beginning of the year.

Triantis, who they call Mrs. T, said that she is rewarded every day she comes to work. “It is especially rewarding seeing them go out on jobs and learning skills that will make a difference in their life.”

The L4L also has an open-door policy and encourages non-L4L students to visit the classroom frequently. Jacob Hemler, a CHS student who helps out in the L4L classroom in the afternoons, clearly has developed a great relationship with the L4L students. As he entered the classroom on the day of my visit, students were quick to acknowledge him, and a little bantering began in good fun. Coblentz says CHS is a great place for the L4L program. Students and the community are so open and welcoming, and this atmosphere allows the L4L students to thrive as they interact in the hallways and help with jobs around school.

As I left the L4L classroom that day I certainly couldn’t help but feel uplifted by the students who had put a smile on my face from the moment I walked into their classroom. I can’t wait to check back and hear about all the success this program will bring to current and future L4L students in the Catoctin community.     

Catoctin High School Learning for Life teacher, Jessica Coblentz, with her students.

Students from the Learning for Life Program help at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve with general cleaning duties and upcoming events.

Learning for Life students plant seedlings in the greenhouse.

by James Rada, Jr.


Parking Option Explored

Parking in downtown Thurmont has become a problem, with the municipal parking lot regularly filled to capacity. Thurmont Economic Development Director Vickie Grinder and Commissioner Bill Blakeslee investigated possible solutions to the problem and came up with a promising solution.

They reached an agreement in principle with the American Legion to turn the empty field beside the Legion hall into a parking lot. The town would develop and maintain the parking lot, which would create an additional 40 to 50 parking spaces. The Legion would still own the land and carry the liability insurance for the parking lot. The lots would then be available for both as a municipal lot and for Legion activities.

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners believe the solution is worth pursuing. They directed Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick to get estimates on what it would cost to build the parking lot.

Commissioners Take Action On Sidewalk Obstructions

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to revise the municipal code to stop homeowners from allowing the sidewalks on their property to be obstructed without a special permit from the town. Failure to do so will now result in a civil fine. The issue arose because a home in town kept scaffolding up for an extended period of time, forcing people, including school students, to walk in the street to get around the property.

The changes also make the property responsible for keeping the sidewalk in reasonable repair. Failure to do so will also be a civil infraction and fined.

YMCA Bringing Programs to Thurmont

Interest in bringing the Frederick County YMCA to Thurmont began in 2019, and it looked like it would happen in 2020, but then COVID hit and shut down just about everything. Since then, the YMCA has had to rethink how it delivers programming to underserved areas of the county. They developed a program called “Y on the Fly,” which is a mobile program that can bring equipment into an area and essentially create a pop-up YMCA.

In the coming months, the YMCA has a set of programs coming to Thurmont. A painting and drawing class will be held at the Thurmont Regional Library. A running club for children 7-12 years old will be held in the Community Park. A health class that talks about not only exercise, but also sleep and cardiovascular health, will be held in the library. In addition, the YMCA will also sponsor a one-day basketball skills clinic for children, ages 8-14.

The feedback from these classes will help the YMCA staff evaluate the need for and types of programming in Thurmont.

Sludge Pumps for the Wastewater Treatment Plant

Thurmont’s wastewater treatment plant has aging sludge pumps, one of which failed recently. At the request of Superintendent Randy Eyler, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to authorize $30,000 for the purchase of two new pumps for the plant.

Contract Awarded

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners awarded a $147,500 contract to Clean Cuts Lawn Care of Cavetown to cut the grass on town property for 2024 and 2025.

They also awarded Superior Facilities Management Services in Gaithersburg a $141,898.25 contract to replace the Community Park tennis courts.


Town Receives Clean Audit

Michelle Mills and Addie Blickenstaff, CPAs with Deleon and Stang, presented the results of the annual independent audit of Emmitsburg’s financial statements for Fiscal Year 2023. They gave the town an unmodified or clean opinion, which is the highest rating that can be given.

However, the auditors did note some adjustments that needed to be done with the reports.

The material adjustments needed were in the capital projects, sewer, and water funds. This was because money paid with grant funds is not requested for reimbursement until the project is complete. Because of the time delay, it causes a mismatch sometimes between grant revenues and expenditures. The auditors recommended that the town review its policies to see if a more timely billing for grants can be done.

Two other adjustments were needed with the sewer fund that the auditors identified as an oversight during the financial close process.

Depaul Street Waterline Replacement Contract Awarded

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners awarded a contract to replace 2,340 feet of 8-inch waterline, replace the fire hydrants and copper water services, restore the asphalt pavement and concrete sidewalks, and traffic control along DePaul Street to W.F. Delauter & Son. Theirs was the low bid of $849,220.63. The project will be paid for with funds from three different grants.

Trash Contract Awarded

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners awarded a three-year trash service contract to Republic Services of Frederick. Republic will collect trash from approximately 1,142 units in town, weekly, and dispose of it in the landfill. In addition to curbside pick-up, Republic will also provide bulk-item curbside pickup twice a year and a roll-off dumpster for yard waste and discarded Christmas trees. The cost of the contract was $117,252, annually.

Change In Plan for New Park Restroom/Concession Stand

Upon recommendation from town staff, the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners rejected the bids received for building a pre-fab restroom/concession stand building at E. Eugene Myers Park. It was found that if the town purchased the building directly from Smith Midland, it could save the town around $70,000. Although the town still needs to bid for the site work, the submitted bids included a mark-up from the bidders. This is roughly the amount the town will save by working directly with the manufacturer.

The commissioners voted to spend $217,124 to purchase the building from Smith Midland. They also voted to request bids for the site work, which is expected to cost around $50,000.


Mayor Frank Davis

 Every month brings new challenges, but each month also brings new opportunities to improve the day-to-day operations of the town. This past month was no exception. I had the opportunity to spend three days in Annapolis, meeting with fellow mayors at the Maryland Municipal League Mayors Conference. The time spent sharing information, comparing issues, and working together to find solutions was a rewarding experience. I learned that most municipalities struggle in the same areas of operations and are searching for that golden answer. So, we in Emmitsburg are not alone.

You may begin to see activity around Irishtown Road behind Northgate. The land has been purchased by a developer in hopes of completing Emmit Ridge II.

The town is close to releasing a new Citizens Notification and Alert Application. This will make it easy to communicate information on events, notices, and most importantly, emergency notifications. The app will be free to downland onto your phone and will add another means of communication with you, our citizens. Be on the lookout for the unveiling of the new system.

The flooding on Annandale Road has become a weekly occurrence and needs to be addressed. While the hazardous area is outside the town limits, it still affects our citizens, the Mount St. Mary’s community, and most importantly, our fire and police response. We are currently working with Frederick County and the Maryland Department of the Environment to correct the problem.

As the weather gets warmer, we encourage you to take a walk in our parks, take in a ballgame, try your hand at disc golf, or just get out and talk with your neighbors. Spring is a great time of year, and I look forward to seeing you out and about around town.


Burgess Heath Barnes

Happy spring! Warmer weather has arrived and, hopefully, all winter weather is now gone until next winter.

Our annual Easter egg hunt in town was quite successful. The Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department, along with the town of Woodsboro, outdid themselves again. The weather is always challenging, especially with Easter being so early this year, but we made it work.

The March 12th town meeting was quiet. Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen situation, I was not able to attend, but the meeting was in good hands and was run by Council President Bud Eckenrode. Thank you, Councilman Eckenrode, for stepping up last minute.

The main discussion was about the new building development that is coming to town. The nine townhouses that were approved several years ago are to be built on Second Street, and the project is starting to take place. The builders will begin the construction before too much longer. This will bring at least nine more families and homes to town.

It was also brought up that the town has stopped electronic payments for water bills. Electronic payments have been stopped at this time due to the revision of the fees that the processor is charging the town, along with the low utilization of this program. With those added fees, the council decided to stop them for now. We will research other options that the town can afford without taking a large loss each quarter.

As always, I encourage everyone to support Glade Valley Community Services (GVCS) if you have clothes or food donations, as they are always in need of items for members of the community. For more information, please contact GVCS by email at or by calling 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164.

Woodsboro town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, planning and zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. John’s United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

Pennsylvania’s State Fossil

Richard D. L. Fulton

Some 350 million years ago, “Frog Eyes” plowed through the mud and silt on the floor of an ancient sea that had then covered much of the area that would someday become the State of Pennsylvania.

Based upon the discovery of the fossilized gut contents of a related creature that once foraged the sea bottom in the Czech Republic, “Frog Eyes” likely sought out such morsels of food such as that provided by the presence of small, nearly microscopic, crustaceans. It’s likely that small soft-bodied sea creatures were on “Frog Eyes”’ menu as well.

While “Frog Eyes” became extinct some 300 million years ago, the creature’s “legacy” lives on as Pennsylvania’s state fossil… sort of.

Specifically, “Frog Eyes” was a sea creature presently known as a trilobite (derived from the fact that the shell, or carapace, of these animals was divided into three sections or lobes). Scientifically, “Frog Eyes” was given the name Phacops rana in 1832 by paleontologist Jacob Green.

Phacops rana literally translates into “frog eyes,” rana being Latin for frog, while phacops is Greek for lenses (referring to the eyes, which were comprised of many lenses, like that of a bee’s).

The fossils of Phacops rana are plentiful in Pennsylvania, where they lived during a period of time known as the Middle Devonian, the rocks of which in Pennsylvania are comprised of layers of dark shale and siltstones. Adults can range in size from about 3.5 inches to 5 inches.

Phacops rana was designated as being the state fossil of Pennsylvania by an act of the state General Assembly of the Commonwealth on December 5, 1988, a decree which stated, “Fossils of Phacops rana are found in many parts of Pennsylvania, and, therefore, the Phacops rana is selected, designated and adopted as the official State fossil of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania…”

 Seems straight forward enough, right? Maryland thought so back in 1984, when the Maryland General Assembly designated a prehistoric snail, Ecphora quadricostata, as the state fossil. Three years later, it was discovered they had designated the incorrect species of Ecphora as their state fossil, resulting in the state General Assembly having to redesignate the proper species, Ecphora gardnerae, as being the state fossil.

Presently, Pennsylvania’s state fossil is faced with the same enigma. Since Phacops rana was designated as Pennsylvania’s state fossil, it was subsequently discovered that the species is not even a member of the genus Phacops, but instead is a member of the genus Eldredgeops, which was named for paleontologist, Niles Eldredge.

Apparently, Phacops only occurred in Africa during the Devonian Period, and Eldredgeops is the proper generic name for the species that lived in the oceans that covered the Americas. As a result, Pennsylvania’s state fossil, Phacops rana then became known as Eldredgeops rana, which also resulted in the old name of “Frog Eyes” then becoming “Eldredge’s Frog.”

The name change reportedly occurred in the 1990s, when paleontologists evaluated the genus Phacops and Eldredgeops.

Apparently, Pennsylvania’s General Assembly didn’t get the memo. Unlike Maryland, the name change has yet to be reflected by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and the erroneous name, Phacops rana, is still indicated as being the current state fossil on Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation & Natural Resources website.

If the reader might be interested in trying to find a specimen or so of Pennsylvania’s state fossil, a couple of references might prove to be of assistance in the quest (neither are in print, but both can be found online): Fossil collecting in Pennsylvania by Donald M. Hoskins, Jon D. Inners, and John A. Harper (the writer of ‘Frog Eyes’ – Pennsylvania’s State Fossil served as a consultant for this book, as indicated in the acknowledgments), and Stratigraphy and Paleontology of the Mahantango Formation in South-Central Pennsylvania by R. L. Ellison.

Grandson of an American Saint

Richard D. L. Fulton

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first native-born American to be canonized) declared a saint by the Catholic Church), which was achieved on September 14, 1975, under the auspices of Pope Paul VI.

Seton, who resided in Emmitsburg from 1809 up until the time of her death from tuberculosis on January 4, 1821, at age 46. Her remains are presently interred within the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg.

The story of her life is legend—documented in many written accounts and books as such that it not be elaborated further upon herein—but perhaps a great deal less has been written about her descendants. This story is about one of her descendants, grandson Robert Seton.

Elizabeth Seton was born Elizabeth Bayley on August 28, 1774, in New York City, to parents Dr. Richard Bayley and his wife, Catherine Charlton Bayley.

She married William Magee Seton, a wealthy New York shipping entrepreneur on January 25, 1794, and the couple had five children: Anna Maria, William, Richard, Catherine, and Rebecca. William Seton subsequently died from tuberculosis on December 27, 1803, in Italy.

Prior to William Seton’s death, his health had declined due to the pressures resulting from the stress of his having suffered financial ruin in New York, and the family had moved to Italy, according to the Maryland State Archives.

Elizabeth Seton’s son, William, and his wife, Emily Seton, had nine children, one of whom was Robert Seton, who was born in Livorno, Provincia di Livorno, Toscana, Italy, on August 28, 1839. Robert Seton was one of seven of William and Emily Seton’s nine children who survived into adulthood.

Seton spent his childhood at his parent’s 51-acre estate, “Cragdon,” in Westchester County, New York. The estate was acquired by Emily Seton in 1840 upon the death of her father, Nathaniel Prime. The couple soon converted the estate into a working farm, according to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Today, much of the estate is preserved within Seton Falls Park. The “falls” was actually constructed by William and Emily Seton.

In 1850, Robert Seton enrolled at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmitsburg. According to, he studied at the Mount for two years before departing with his parents to Pau in southern France “where he continued his schooling.”

After his mother, Emily Seton, died in France in 1854, he continued his studies in Europe, and in 1857, studied theology and Canon law in Rome, graduating in 1867 with honors from the Accademia Ecclesiastical (also known as the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy). In 1865. Seton was ordained under the title of patrimony (ordained clerk).

In 1866 Seton was advanced to the rank of private chamberlain to Pope Pius IX, and in 1867 he was honored with the title of prothonotary apostolic. As a result, Seton became the first individual from the United States named to these two titles.

After securing his Doctor of Divinity degree from the Roman University of Sapienza, Seton returned to the United States, where he served, beginning in 1876, as the rector of Saint Joseph’s Church in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Seton returned to Rome in 1901 and was subsequently appointed Archbishop of the titular See of Heliopolis in Phoenicia by Pope Leo XIII in 1903.

In 1914, Seton returned to Emmitsburg to the former home and burial place of his grandmother (in Emmitsburg) and other family members (in the nearby cemetery at Mountain Saint Mary’s). The (Baltimore) Sun reported in their October 14, 1914, edition, “Archbishop Seton… came to (Emmitsburg) Maryland, as he said, to die and be gathered with his people.” The newspaper further noted that, upon his arrival in Emmitsburg, “(Seton) has established a headquarters at Mount Saint Mary’s College.”

However, he was not to die in Emmitsburg. Instead, less than a year later, he told The Sun (published in their August 18, 1915, issue) that he had decided to move to France “to spend the remainder of his life,” and to be buried where his parents had been buried in France. He stated that one of the main reasons for returning to France was to “try to alleviate the sufferings of the soldiers brought back from the fighting…”

Seton still did not achieve his final objective of passing away in Emmitsburg. Upon retiring in 1921 overseas, he returned to the United States and died in 1927 at the College of Saint Elizabeth, Morris Township, New Jersey, and was buried in the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Newark.

Sketch of Archbishop Robert Seton (1839-1927); Source: National Cyclopaedia of American Biography,1893.

The Catoctin Mountain Story

Some things are taken for granted:   for example, Catoctin Mountain. The mountain has not always been there, and it will not remain there forever.  This is the mountain’s story.

The Catoctin Mountain shares its origins with that of the actual mountain chain of which they are a member: the Appalachian Mountain Chain. 

The Time Before Catoctin

In the beginning, there were no mountains where they presently exist. Their birth can be traced back to a period over one billion years ago, when there was only one supercontinent. Today, there are a few areas of the Appalachian Mountains where the billion-year-old remnants of this supercontinent can still be observed, one being near to an area where southwestern Maryland borders Virginia.

Around 750 million years ago, this supercontinent began to pull apart, resulting in the creation of subcontinents (which, incidentally, bore no resemblance to the continents as they exist today). As a result of this continental breakup, the land upon which the Catoctin Mountain is presently located was inundated by the ocean around 500 million years ago, as was most of what would ultimately become the Americas several hundreds of millions of years later.

From some 500 million years ago to about 358 million years ago, oceans covered much of what would later

become land. These oceans spanned several periods of time, including the Cambrian Period (541 million to 485.4 million years ago), the Ordovician Period (485.4 to 443.8 million years ago), the Silurian Period (443.8 to  419.2 million years ago), and the Devonian Period (419.2 to 358 million years ago).

During the course of time in which the oceans predominated, from 541 to 358 million years ago, the seas would witness the rise of the first major life forms during the Cambrian Period. Many of these life forms were so alien that paleontologists of today have not yet been able to determine where they should actually fit within the animal kingdom, due to the fact that they did not survive the Cambrian to be capable of providing any living examples with which to compare them.

On the upside, however, the ancient ancestors of virtually every modern form of life arose and survived, appeared in the Cambrian Period, and the explosion of life on Earth thus commenced with a vengeance.

But the sea floor from which the Catoctin Mountain was to arise was about to come to a cataclysmic event, setting the state for the formation of the Catoctin Mountain.

The continents of the earth, whether they be supercontinents or subcontinents, sit upon portions of solidified crust, which had formed into plates. These plates “drift” about on the surface of the Earth in almost imperceptible slow motion.

 As these plates drift about, they might break up into smaller plates or collide with other plates, thereby, becoming adhered to them. This geologic phenomenon is known as continental drift (also known as plate tectonics).

The Continents Collide

Around 335 million years ago, two continental plates—one referred to as the African Plate and the other called the North American Plate—began to move toward each other, like an irresistible force colliding with an immovable object, on a grand scale. 

The collision of the two continental plates was so violent that not only did their convergence form a new continent, which geologists have dubbed “Pangaea,” but as the North American Plate buckled from being rammed by the African Plate, the Appalachian Mountains (Catoctin Mountain included) were created.

Geologists have been able to identify three supercontinents that have existed over time on the Earth, according to Live Science, Future USA Inc.

The oldest was Columbia (also called Nuna), which existed from around 1.7 billion years ago to 1.45 billion years ago, during a period of time referred to as the Precambrian Period. A second supercontinent, called Rodinia, existed from a billion years ago to about 700 million years ago, also during the Precambrian. 

Pangaea became the third supercontinent and, to date, the last. But the Earth’s plates are still in motion, and someday in the future, there could be a fourth.

The Appalachian Mountains, along with the Catoctin Mountain, are mere remnants of the Appalachian Mountains of 300 million years ago. As the collision subsided, the Appalachian Mountains were as high as the modern-day Himalayas, and the entire mountain chain ranged from Newfoundland to Alabama. 

In Alabama, the Appalachians (on a section of the North American plate that had apparently slumped) were subsequently submerged beneath, and buried by the sediments that were deposited by oceans that covered much of the state, some 145 to 40 million years ago.

In addition to mountain building, the collision also transformed rocks that had lain beneath the surface before the continents collided, which were altered into new forms of rock.

The rock layers that had formed from the sediments that had been deposited by the overlying oceans before the great collision were comprised mostly of shale (which had formed from mud) and sandstone (which had formed from sand).  Among them were layers of lava (deposited by active volcanoes).

The force of the collision was such that even the crystalline nature of these basic rocks was altered, resulting in shale being converted into phyllite and meta-schist, sandstone being converted into quartzite, and lava being converted into metabasalt. Other basic rocks had also undergone extreme alteration, according to the National Park Service.

Catoctin Mountain Today

Catoctin Mountain as it exists today represents a mere remnant of the mountain it once was. So much of the former Catoctin Mountain has been eroded over the millions of years since its formation, that much of the soil of the fields to the sand at the beaches in Maryland originated as rocks in the primordial mountain. 

Even the dinosaurs of Maryland foraged and hunted on land that was generated by the once-commanding heights on the Appalachian Mountains; while, today, farmers can plow and beachgoers can build sandcastles out of the material generated by a dying mountain.

For those interested in collecting remnants of ancient Pangaea still preserved in Catoctin Mountain, restrict your quest to private land (with permission), public roadway roadcuts (where there are safe pull-offs to accommodate a vehicle), and quarries (with permission). However, stay away from federal and/or state lands.

Recommended equipment should include goggles (if one doesn’t already wear glasses), heavy-lined work gloves, a crack hammer (also called a hand sledge), and/or a rock pick, and a variety of cold steel chisels, as well as newspapers and a knapsack for containing specimens. It’s also advisable to label finds as to where they were specifically collected.

For additional reading, the following is suggested: The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website article, Maryland Rocks: Amateur mineral hunters find treasure, and the website.

Someday, there will be no Appalachian Mountains…unless or until the continents collide once again.

In the 1930’s, after years of making charcoal to fuel the iron furnace, mountain farming, and harvesting of trees for timber, land was purchased to be transformed into a productive recreation area; helping to put people back to work during the great depression. Beginning in 1935, the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area was under construction by both the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Fisherman tries his luck in a Catoctin Mountain stream.

Rock specimen: Catoctin Mountain metabasalt, which had been transformed from basalt (hardened lava) as the result of the impact of the continent.

James Rada, Jr.

Kountry Kitchen has come a long way in 40 years, and the food continues to please customers.

Sherry Myers was just a freshman in high school when her parents opened Kountry Kitchen in 1984 on Water Street in Thurmont. It was not a large restaurant, but it served delicious food.

“The original restaurant fit into our dining area out front now,” Sherry said. The only heat came from a wood stove in the center of the room.

Kountry Kitchen was a family operation from the start, with Pat Ridenour, Sherry’s mom, doing the cooking. Sherry’s grandmother worked as the dishwasher. Sherry and her father, Roger Ridenour, worked part-time.

The original recipes for the meals were family recipes from Sherry’s mom and grandmother.

The business was so successful that Roger had to leave his full-time job to work in the restaurant, and the couple bought their building in 1986. As its reputation grew, so did the business, adding space and upgrading its equipment.

Through it all, Sherry worked in the family business. Even before Kountry Kitchen had opened, Sherry had been learning the restaurant business from her mom. Pat had worked as a line cook at Gentleman Jim’s in Emmitsburg. Sherry would go there after school, and when she was done with her homework, she would help her mom and learn what she did. Sherry was a trained line cook while she was still in her teens, without even realizing it.

“She [Mom] was so good at what she did, I just wanted to be like her,” Sherry said.

She saw first-hand how hard running a business was, but she appreciates the work her parents did to build a strong foundation for Kountry Kitchen. The customers do, too.

“The customers become like family,” Sherry said. “We have regulars who will eat two or three meals a day here.”

The Myers purchased a chicken broaster in the early 2000s and developed a recipe that leaves the chicken crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The Broaster Company awarded Kountry Kitchen the Broasted Chicken Award in 2005. MSN has also named the restaurant as the “Best Hole in the Wall Chicken in Maryland.” MSN praised the chicken, writing “It’s got a thin, smoother coating than most fried chicken, letting the meat be the star.”

Sherry said that a few months back, a family on vacation from Wyoming made a special stop in Thurmont just to try out the chicken.

Pat and Roger retired in 2019, and Sherry and Rob bought the business in late 2019. Of course, they didn’t realize that it would soon be the worst time in modern history to operate a business that depended on customers walking into the business.

The pandemic hit the following year, closing businesses for months, and only allowing them to gradually reopen. Many businesses couldn’t deal with the losses and closed up.

Sherry and Rob rolled with it, though, and even tried to help out. With schools also closed because of the pandemic, they began offering students in the area breakfasts and lunches. They were serving around 125 meals a day.

“We felt like we needed to do something to keep the children fed who depended on those school meals,” Sherry said.

They made it through those trials, though, and have continued growing and being part of the Thurmont community. They also have continued to garner awards and rave reviews for their food, customer service, and community spirit.

In 2022, they purchased a van that would allow them to cater special events with Kountry Kitchen’s crowd-pleasing food.

On February 15, 2024, Kountry Kitchen held an open house all day with hors d’oeuvres, mug and shirt giveaways, and a drawing for a monthly breakfast for two. It was all in celebration of 40 years in business with many more expected.

by James Rada, Jr.


Commissioners to Address Blocked Sidewalks

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners are looking to amend the town code to address obstructions to the sidewalk because of construction and renovation. Currently, there is nothing in the ordinance that addresses this problem. The proposed changes are based on the Walkersville town code and would require workers to get a permit when they expect to block the sidewalk. The permit would allow the sidewalk to be blocked for up to 10 business days, or it would have to be taken down. The problem is seen as a safety issue because pedestrians are having to walk in the street to get around scaffolding.

New Streetlight Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved the purchase of 85 LED streetlights to complete the Gateway subdivision. The town received three bids and approved a low bid of $59,415 from Catoctin Lighting.

The town also released a statement about concerns raised from the earlier installation of streetlights in the subdivision. Upon investigation, it was discovered that although the town and contractor believed they had purchased lights that had the same wattage and lumens as the ones they were replacing, the manufacturer had made changes that altered the lights. The town and contractor were not aware of this change.

Most of the funding comes from a Maryland Smart Energy Communities Grant for $53,010. The remaining amount will come from the streetlights line item in the electric budget.


Extended Office Hours

Beginning in March, the Emmitsburg Town Office will be open 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. This is a six-month trial to see if residents who are working during normal business hours and can’t get into the office to take care of business will make use of the extended hours.

Budget Gets Minor Restructuring

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted to move the home departments for three positions, which will move the benefits and taxes associated with those positions out of the water and sewer funds. This will make those budgets smaller, but it will increase general fund expenses by a similar amount. This means there will be no net difference.

The changes are:

    Move the office coordinator from the water fund to the finance department.

    Move the town clerk from the water fund to the finance department.

    Move the town manager from the sewer fund to the legislative department.

The changes will shift $96,702 from one department to another.

Town Accepts Rutter’s Pump Station

The town voted to take over the new Rutter’s pump station, which Rutter’s built to handle the needs of the new store on East Main Street. The advantage for the town is that the new station was built with enough capacity to also handle any new development across the street from the Rutter’s store.

Mayor Takes Issue with the County

Mayor Frank Davis was critical of Frederick County government during a recent town meeting. As the town prepares to implement its back-flow preventer cross-connection program, “All of a sudden, Frederick County wants to be involved in this project, so they can charge for a permit,” Davis said.

Davis said that conversations with plumbers and town staff have shown him that this is not something that should require a county permit, and the valve can’t be tested, so an inspection would be useless.

“I just see it as a money grab for the county,” Davis said.

Commission and Committee Appointments

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners recently appointed Dale Sharrer as a full member of the planning commission, effective February 20, 2024. They also appointed Leslie Frei to the sustainable communities workgroup, with a term running from February 12, 2024 to February 12, 2029.


Mayor Frank Davis

As the winter months are flying by, we are starting to plan for warmer weather. We are in the planning stage for an improved farmers’ market. We are still looking for new vendors and are excited about the return of last year’s participants.

Softball and baseball will again fill our parks with regular league play, as well as several large weekend tournaments. This is not only good for our youths who participate, but it is a bonus for our local businesses. On any given weekend, hundreds of fans can be found walking our streets and patronizing local shops and eateries. Thank you to the Thurmont Little League for bringing baseball back to Emmitsburg.

Plans are shaping up for our community garden, which is located beside the Emmitsburg Community Center on Cedar Avenue. Local resident Jack Deathridge will again take the lead with his crew, willing to expand the footprint of last year’s garden to accommodate new gardeners of all ages.

Spring sports are in full swing at Mount St. Mary’s University, and it is worth the trip to check them out. Both men’s and women’s teams are going to be extremely competitive, so check out the Mount’s website for schedules.

Town staff is working hard on updating our comprehensive plan. Workshops have been held over the winter months, with the final gathering on March 25 at the town office. The workshop will begin at 7:00 p.m.

We have openings on several committees, and we need you to become part of our team. Please visit the town website at for more information or contact the office at 301-600-6300.

Beginning March 11, the town office will extend its office hours. The office will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, for your convenience.

Finally, as I approach the end of my first six months in my new position, I want to thank you for your support. While we may have had different opinions and ideas on how to govern our town, everyone has been polite and respectful. Many of you have stepped forward to serve on committees and continue to be an important part of the success of the town. Please give me a call or visit me in the office to share your ideas or just for a chat.                              


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Here we are in March already! Winter will soon be behind us, and things will start getting green. My favorite flowers are daffodils, and this spring, I think we will see daffodils popping up all around Thurmont, thanks to the Thurmont Green Team. I hope everyone enjoys the amazing range of colors that bloom in early spring.

The North Church Street project is coming along on schedule. As with every large public works project, there are traffic delays and some inconveniences for residents. We appreciate everyone’s patience! The work from Woodside Avenue to Rt. 15 is expected to be completed by late April, while the work from Rt. 15 to Catoctin High School (CHS) will be completed during summer vacation at CHS. This project is one of the largest single infrastructure projects we have done in several years and will address several issues. Most residents are unaware of the infrastructure buried beneath our streets and sidewalks. These systems, as with all others, have a working lifespan, and the water and wastewater lines are reaching their useful ends. Over the past several years, we have been addressing I&I (inflow and infiltration) issues in our wastewater system. Much of the pipes on North Church Street are terra-cotta, and over the years, the joints have separated. These pipes can let a lot of wild water into the system, and every gallon of that has to be treated. The new wastewater lines will help eliminate much of that water. The water lines also need to be replaced with new pipes with fewer changes in pipe size and the elimination of a few bottlenecks. This project is being funded with American Rescue Act Funds. Once this work is completed, the SHA will be repaving the entire roadway.

Work has been ongoing on the new softball field at East End Park. This project is funded through Program Open Space grants. The field features lights for night games and should be ready for regular play early this fall.

The tennis court at the Community Park is being removed and replaced with a new court, lights, and fencing. The court will feature tennis and pickleball markings. Work has commenced on the renovation of the playground at the entrance to Eyler Road Park. The new equipment will feature a Cougar theme! Both of these projects will be completed before Memorial Day. I want to thank our Parks Department for the amazing work they do maintaining our parks and getting them ready for spring!

Good weather will bring out lots of kids and adults walking, running, and riding bikes or skateboards on our sidewalks and trails. Please drive responsibly, and be aware of everyone sharing the road and using our trails and walkways.

On a personal note, I recently spent some time at Frederick Health Hospital. I want to thank all the doctors, nurses, and support staff whom I had the privilege of meeting while there. We are very fortunate to have such an outstanding medical facility at our doorstep.

As always, I can be reached at or by phone at 301-606-9458.

I hope everyone has a wonderful March!


Burgess Heath Barnes

Happy March! The first month of spring has arrived and, hopefully, this brings more sunshine and warmth. As they say, March winds and April showers will bring May flowers, and I am ready for them and warmer weather.

I attended the annual Maryland Mayors Conference last month in Annapolis. I always enjoy this conference, as we often hear details of how pending legislation in Annapolis will affect our municipalities, in either a positive or sometimes not-so-positive way. Last month, we had to change our monthly town meeting to February 20, instead of the typical second Tuesday of the month, due to some unforeseen circumstances.

The February meeting was quiet, as we are still awaiting the new bid proposal from the town hall builder to see if we can get the bid down to the amount the town can easily afford. We are very confident, with some cuts that we have made, that we will get it down to the dollar amount we are looking for. We also discussed the next event in town, which is the annual Easter Egg Hunt that is hosted by the Town of Woodsboro and the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department. The Easter Egg Hunt will be held this year on March 30 at 2:00 p.m. in the town park. All children are invited to attend this free community event.

There were some issues with the lights at the basketball and tennis courts, as the line was accidentally cut off when the lights for the skating park were installed. They have been repaired, and all is working well now. Thank you to the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department for adding water to the pond while it was frozen to smooth it out. It was so nice seeing the frozen pond and the sledding hill being used so much this winter with all the snowfalls we have had and the cold temperatures that froze the pond.

As always, I encourage everyone to support Glade Valley Community Services (GVCS) if you have clothes or food donations, as they are always in need of items for members of the community. For more information, please contact GVCS by email at or call 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164.

Woodsboro town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, planning and zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. John’s United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

Richard D. L. Fulton

A great many people in North Frederick County are likely unaware as they go about their daily business or endeavors, that beneath their feet rests the vestiges of an ancient continent that, like the legendary Atlantis, was ultimately destroyed and lost to time.

This particular Atlantis existed during a period of time presently classified as being Late Triassic in age, which occurred some 220 million years ago when one sole continent existed… a continent, dubbed Pangea by geologists.

During this period of time, Pangea was in its “death throws” and was in the process of breaking up, due to the movement of the continental plates beneath it. That breakup led to the formation of a number of subcontinents, resulting in the end of Pangea around 200 million years ago.

But, in Rocky Ridge, one can still walk the ancient shoreline of one of Pangea’s great lakes that existed before its demise and even explore the lake bottom of this huge lake, dubbed Lake Lockatong. 

At the height of this lake’s existence, Lake Lockatong sprawled from Rocky Ridge through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and into New York State. Some geologists believe that this great lake covered an area equivalent to the presently existing Lake Tanganyika in Africa, at some 20,000 total miles in size. 

Over millions of years, the sediments that had been deposited at the bottom of this lake in Rocky Ridge, as well as those of the associated mud flats, solidified into shale, and today provide a “window” into what times were like in Rocky Ridge when it was part of Pangea.

The most dominant vertebrate that abounded on the ancient mudflats of Rocky Ride was, without a doubt, a foot-long lizard called Rhynchosauroides, an animal that is believed to have been an ancient ancestor of the tuatara, which only exists today in New Zealand. 

Hundreds of tracks of this lizard have been found in the Rocky Ridge mudflats, along with rare body impressions made when the lizards rested on the mud in shallow water. 

Another rarer cat-sized reptile that wandered upon the mud flats is classified as dicynodonts, a group thought to have been extinct long before the Rocky Ridge mudflats were formed. It is generally believed that mammals evolved from this group of reptiles.

The Rocky Ridge Rhynchosauroides shared their environment with millepedes (also known today as thousand leggers) and prehistoric crickets and beetles, whose trackways lie scattered among the layers containing Rhynchosauroides tracks. One specimen was found revealing the body impression of a Rhynchosauroides surrounded by fossil cricket tracks!

The shale from the lake bottom found in Rocky Ridge revealed complete fossil fish, fish scales, coprolites (fossil excretion), fragmented bones, and the track of an as-yet unidentified aquatic reptile.  There was plenty of food for these creatures in the lake, as their remains have been found with a multitude of freshwater clam shrimp, snails, and clams.

One particular Rocky Ridge site revealed that an immense conifer forest had existed at the time in proximity to the lake shore, and its branches, complete with leaves, were found in an eddy that had apparently formed off the lake and which was also loaded with freshwater clam shrimp.

Dinosaur tracks have yet to be found in the Late Triassic Rocky Ridge deposits, but dinosaur tracks were collected in the 1800s in a flagstone (rock intended to be used in walkways) that had been quarried only a few minutes away, outside of Emmitsburg. 

A geologist—now retired—identified a layer of green shale in Rocky Ridge that would be the layer most likely to produce dinosaur tracks, but that layer has yet to be excavated.

Because every fossil recovered from the Late Triassic Rocky Ridge sites is new to Maryland and/or new to science, access to one of the richest sites is now presently restricted and is located on private property.

The Camp Letterman Story

Richard D. L. Fulton

On July 1, 1863, a massive and deadly storm descended upon Gettysburg, with the thunder being provided by more than 600 cannons and the fierce lightning being the result of the firing of more than 140,000 rifles.

The storm was caused by the violent convergence of the Union Army of the Potomac, under the command of General George G. Meade, and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of General Robert E. Lee.

By the end of July 3, the fields of Gettysburg had become littered with more than 50,000 dead and wounded—the highest number of human casualties that have been sustained by American forces in a single battle before, during, or since the engagement at Gettysburg. 

Many of the wounded and dying were housed in local homes and churches, impromptu field medical tents, and at a special military medical compound known as Camp Letterman. However, in the case of the Confederate Army, its casualties who had not been abandoned or captured on the field were loaded aboard wagons to commence with their painful trek back to Virginia.

Camp Letterman was ordered to be established on July 4, the day after the battle had subsided, by Assistant Adjutant General Seth Williams. The facility was to be named Camp Letterman, in honor of Doctor Jonathan Letterman, Medical Director for the Army of the Potomac, according to

The site selected was situated along York Road, just east of Gettysburg, near the east of the site of the present Giant grocery store shopping center, and had consisted of some 80 acres in extent.

The property involved was then known as the George Wolf farm, which had been selected, according to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, because the farm was located on high ground, with “abundant spring water, and (located in) close proximity to the York Road and Gettysburg Railroad.”

The portion of the farm utilized was not yet cultivated at that time and contained a significant stand of trees, which provided an abundance of shade for the encampment. Surgeon Henry Janes served as the doctor in charge of Camp Letterman.

Further, nurse Sophronia E. Bucklin, author of In Hospital and Camp: A Woman’s Record of Thrilling Incidents Among the Wounded in the Late War, noted that there were 500 “large hospital” tents erected in the camp (of which, she wrote, had even increased in number over time)” in rows with well-trodden, dirt walkways, established to minimize the mud. Each tent could house 12 patients, as noted by (American Battlefield Trust).

Torrential rain fell in the wake of the battle, adding to the misery contained within the sprawling field hospital. As an aside, Bucklin noted that during heavy rain, “muddy rivulets (flowed) through our tents, (and we were) obliged in the morning to use our parasol handles to fish our shoes from the water before we could dress.”

The National Museum of Civil War Medicine (NMCWM) further stated on its website ( that the hospital included “a dead house, embalming tent, cemetery, cookhouse and warehouse tents.”

Some 400 individuals, consisting of military staff and volunteers (including the U.S. Sanitation Commission and the U.S. Christian Commission), served at the encampment. noted, “Doctors, nurses, hospital stewards, ward surgeons, wound dressers, and night watchmen worked dawn to dusk every day.”

The NMCWM further noted that soldiers who had improved, but were in need of additional care, were transported by rail to hospitals in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

The Gettysburg Times noted in a story they published on September 2, 1949, that Camp Letterman had treated more than 20,000 Union and Confederate casualties.

Bucklin wrote that more than half were Confederate casualties, which she had described as having been “grim, daunt, ragged men—long-haired, hollow-eyed and sallow-cheeked.”

Feeding the casualties and staff was at first a very unpleasant experience. 

Bucklin wrote that, initially, “Hunger only made edible the wretched food which was spoiled in its long-heated journey over the dusty road from Washington.” 

However, the camp was soon supplied with a new kitchen, along with ”monster” stoves and huge cauldrons.

Bucklin noted that one of the primary rules of conduct required of staff and volunteers was that the Confederate casualties were to be treated equally as those of the Union, further noting that many Union soldiers had remarked on how well they had been treated by the medical staffs in prisoner-of-war camps, in which they had found themselves in the South.

Bucklin further wrote that one individual employed for helping the wounded in the camp had been discharged because she “refused to give food or aid or drink” to any of the Confederate wounded, “regarding them as wanton murderers of her beloved husband.” 

Intolerance was not tolerated in the hospital camp.

More than 1,200 of the casualties perished at the camp, according to Michael Mahr, an education specialist at the NMCWM.

Bucklin noted that “many more of the rebels died than of our own men.” Further noting that, in one instance, “of the twenty-two rebels who were brought into my ward at one time, thirteen died, after receiving the same care that was given to our men.”

Amputations of severely damaged arms and legs were not uncommon in the camp. noted on its website, “Removed limbs would either be discarded and buried on site, or sent to the Army Medical Museum in Washington, D.C., as a specimen for study.”  

Matthew Atkinson, Gettysburg National Military Park (, further wrote that a letter written by Union soldier Frank Stoke to his brother had stated, “Those who die in the hospital are buried in the field south of the hospital…The dead are laid in rows with a rough board placed at the head of each man… The amputated limbs are put into barrels and buried and left in the ground until they decomposed, then lifted and sent to the Medical College at Washington.”

Camp Letterman was dismantled in November 1863. wrote on its website: “In November 1863, Camp Letterman all but vanished from the visible landscape. Union dead were exhumed and either sent to family or buried in the Gettysburg National Cemetery (except for the bodies of black Union soldiers who had died in the camp, since black soldiers were not permitted at that time to be buried in the National Cemetery).”

Today, a roadside marker denotes the general location of the medical encampment. The marker was a “wide, upstanding piece of granite with a metal tablet” and was the first “Great Rebellion”-related marker installed east of Gettysburg. The monument was placed within the woods in which the camp had been located. 

Highly recommended to the reader is Sophronia E. Bucklin’s fascinating account, published in her book, In Hospital and Camp: A Woman’s Record of Thrilling Incidents Among the Wounded in the Late War, which is accessible in its entirety online at Library of Congress website.

For a more definitive account of Camp Letterman, refer to “War is a hellish way of settling a dispute” by Matthew Atkinson, Gettysburg NMP, at

Submitted by Joan Bittner Fry

This article came from The Telephone News, VOL. VII, No.18, and was published by Bell Telephone Co. of Pennsylvania, The Delaware & Atlantic Telegraph & Telephone Co, The Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co, The Diamond State Telephone Co, and The Central District and Printing Telegraph Co.

At that time, telephones were in their infancy. This publication gave information to employees of how to work together and how to share knowledge of their job with fellow employees, stating that “with our company there is no occasion for the ‘keep it under your hat’ habit.” This publication was for all employees, whether in the Plant Department or the Collection Department.

There were 16 pages with 30 photos throughout of the Blue Ridge Summit and Waynesboro areas, giving updates on underground cables and conduit installations in specific areas.

The Blue Ridge Mountains Resorts

Suppose—just suppose, remember—it is a hot Friday afternoon in late August. You, a humble telephone man, are sweltering in your office. You are almost all in. As you are about to give up the day’s work in despair, a friend drops in. He notes your wilted look. It is the psychological moment.

“What’re you going to do over Sunday?” he asks.

“Can’t imagine. Simmer, I reckon.”

“Never,” he shouts. “Get your grip and your golf sticks and come with me. You’re going to Blue Ridge Summit.”

Bang! Down comes the desk lid.

Blue Ridge Summit

Was there ever a clever combination of words? Blue—that’s plain enough. Even to the most unimaginative mind, it suggests its complement: skies. Ridge brings the picture of a green-treed mountain. Summit speaks of a high place, the top o’ the world, a place where breezes blow both day and night. “Blue Ridge Summit,” then, sounds well to you.

Let this be your introduction to “The Mountain.” You go. And what do you find?

Let us see:

High at the top of a giant ridge, just where Pennsylvania meets Maryland: where the air is pure, the water is crystal and the sky is azure; there, to locate it absolutely sans superlatives, there you find the Blue Ridge Mountains resorts.

There are a number of communities in the region; Monterey, Blue Ridge, Buena Vista, Pen Mar, and Blue Mountain are the most popular. Just a mile or two down the mountainside nestles the live little borough of Waynesboro—9,000 souls, and the heart of the vicinity.

And best of all, the region is only two hours away from Baltimore, three hours from Washington, and four or five from Philadelphia.

So, after a two-hour train ride, first through fertile valleys and farmlands, then up the gradual ascent of the mountains, you step from your Pullman into a cool, green bower through which the sun’s last rays are sloping. Your hat comes off instinctively. The breeze is playing tricks with your emotions and with your hair.

Blue Ridge Summit has come true. That first night you sleep the sleep of a man without a care. It is almost too good to be true. In the morning, shortly after “jocund day stands tiptoe the misty mountain tops” (Shakespeare), the horses are brought around. You mount and follow your guide down a broad, well-kept avenue. Automobiles are in evidence at intervals up here, but horses seem to have the call.

Probably the first thing that strikes your eye is the character of the “cottages that border you on the right (Monterey Lane). Each has its own perfect setting of flowers and greens. Comfort, convenience, and luxury speak from their every line, from the garage at the telephone loop entering the eave.

Presently, on the other side of this same avenue you approach a golf course, tennis courts, baseball grounds, and finally, a typical country cub house.

“The Monterey Country Club,” your friend explains as you canter past. For a moment, you are tempted to give up the ride and try out the fairway of the golf course that stretches out level before you, almost as far as the eye can reach. But your friend persuades you that it is better to postpone this pleasure until later—he has other things in mind for this morning.

Then comes a sharp turn to the right, a winding, easy climb, and step by step, you mount to the famous Monterey Terraces. As you ascend, each summer home seems to outdo its neighbor. At last you have reached the highest point of the terraces; you halt your horses for a moment, and your friend points to a mountain gap far across the checkerboard valley.

“Gettysburg Gap,” he says. “Look sharp near the mountain to the right, and you’ll see the spires and monuments of Gettysburg itself. Probably no other of the many views you may obtain will give you such a thrill as this very one. There, nearly 30 miles away, sparkle the granites and marbles of the historical battlefield. High above them, you can dimly see the towers of its churches and of Pennsylvania College, where perhaps, you have had friends, or it may be where you have attended school.

Twisting here and there throughout this particular neighborhood there is a strange looking grass-grown ditch that looks as if it might have been meant for a railroad cut at some ancient date. And that, it transpires, is exactly what it is. It is the remains of “The Old Tapeworm Line.” If this is going back a little too far for your memory of historical affairs, you will probably inquire further into the details of that interesting case and you will learn something like this:

 The Tape Worm Line was an idea of Thaddeus Stevens, Pennsylvania’s “Grand Old Commoner.” About 1835, while he resided in  Gettysburg, he conceived the idea of building a railroad to start at Gettysburg, run down through Franklin County and then turn south, tapping the richest parts of the southern counties wherever it was found advisable and convenient. Stevens, it should be remembered, had extensive interests in Franklin County. This probably accounts for the aggressive way in which he stood sponsor for his railroad proposition through many years of discouragement. The State finally granted him a large appropriation to take up the work. It was at the time of the great craze for internal improvement and development, and immediately upon receipt of sufficient money, the managers of the railroad began work all along the proposed line. They worked lustily, no doubt, and spent just as freely. Results followed rapidly; that is, negative results. Their funds were soon exhausted, the development boom collapsed, the State refused further aid, and operations ceased. History tells us that not a mile of the railroad was completed. The long, worm-like depressions in the vicinity of Monterey and Blue Ridge Summit certainly bear out the statement.

Mason and Dixon Line

A wide detour is now made. “I want to show you a little stone that has a rather interesting history,” says your guide. A sharp gallop and you come to the spot, dismount, and step probably half a dozen paces into the dense woods at the left of the road. Your friend turns sharply, places his hand on an upright wire cage about four feet high and points to the ancient looking stone within it.

“See that stone?” he asks. “This is a crown stone of the famous Mason and Dixon Line. The crown stones are placed at intervals of five miles; plain ones mark every intervening mile. On the southern side, you can dimly see Lord Baltimore’s coat of arms, and on the opposite side, the more familiar insignia of your own William Penn. I suppose I hardly need to explain their significance.

“This stone,” he continues, “is one of a great number shipped to this country from England about 1767 for the very purpose they now serve. They were unloaded somewhere along the Delaware line. Two young Englishmen by the name of Mason and Dixon then made the historic survey which later came to mark a commonly accepted boundary between north and south. Many of these stones had to be carried up the steep mountain paths on the backs of mules—one stone to two mules, securely strapped between them. At that time, they tell me each stone was at least four and a half feet out of ground. As you see, they are now within a few inches of the surface. Why? For the simple reason that lately they have become so interesting to visitors that everyone who came to see them considered it his or her duty to chip off a piece of the stone as a memento of the occasion.”

“Uncle Sam had to step in to prevent their total destruction, and a few years ago, he set about replacing the same old stones, and at the more exposed locations, he covered them with iron wire cages just like this one. A re-survey of the Mason-Dixon Line was also made about six or seven years ago. It was found almost absolutely correct. It runs through the heart of the Blue Ridge resort region. One of these stones stands a few hundred feet south of the Blue Ridge Summit Station; another can be found within a few feet of the Pen Mar Station. And that is the story of the little gray stone.”

Luncheon over, you naturally want to get back to that golf course, that is, if you’re a devotee of the sport. It is a corking little nine-hole course of something more than 2,000 yards. It is fairly well-filled with players, and as you take your stance, something tells you the wind in the air of this place is going to stretch out your every drive to its greatest and straightest length. As you follow your ball, you learn a little more of the Monterey Country Club. In the first place, it is kept up entirely by the cottagers and through private subscriptions and nominal dues. Any member or his guest has all the numerous pleasures and privileges of the club. It is modern in every respect. There is a well-appointed tea room for the ladies and every afternoon you will find a large representation of the colony seated there chatting and sipping their beverages, while they watch golfers or tennis players out in the open. Few mountain resorts can boast of such a well-managed institution.

It is Pen Mar in the evening, of course. Here is another interesting name for you. If I am not mistaken, half its charm comes from the fact that nine people out of ten discover its derivation for themselves. Pen from Pennsylvania, you see; and Mar from Maryland—meaning, of course, that the place is located partly in one state and partly in another. Assuredly, it means also that it is a spot where pleasure-lovers from both commonwealths convene. This park, you learn, was formally opened on the 31st of August just 33 years ago. The famous 5th Regimental Band of Baltimore officiated on that occasion. This year the anniversary of the date was recognized and celebrated in splendid style.

Pen Mar is becoming more of an all-year resort every season. At the present time, there are about 100 cottages, opened mostly by neighboring cities and from Waynesboro. The splendid order maintained in the vicinity has had a great deal to do with this steady growth. In the very beginning, Maryland legislature made a wise provision: that no intoxicating liquor could be sold within a certain distance of the park. Besides, it is well policed. Good order is insisted upon. At the dance pavilion, where you will hear the best of orchestra music from 11 A.M. to 11 P.M. daily, sons and daughters of the most respected and most prominent citizens for miles around safely gather. On special occasions, as many as 15,000 people visit the park in one day.

This completes your day, and a big day it was. You retire with the conviction that cities are good enough to work in, but that a mountain top is the one place to enjoy life.

The next day is Sunday according to our imaginary schedule, and in keeping with the day, you are glad to learn that the plans are to drive quietly over the sometimes steep but always well-kept mountain roads in the vicinity of Pen Mar and Buena Vista.

Buena Vista Springs has a mammoth hotel, a colony of cottages, and a reputation for entertaining distinguished guests. A great many Washington officials, including foreign ambassadors and their suites, have the Blue Ridge habit. It is rather remarkable to note that when they once spend a season at this resort, they usually come back for more. This year, the Japanese ambassador and his elaborately outfitted staff constitute the main attraction for the curious.

Near Pen Mar is the picturesque freak of nature known as the Devil’s Race Course. This is a long stretch of greenish rocks with absolutely no vegetation growing between or on them. At one time, it probably was the bed of a mountain stream. Now, by some strange phenomenon, the rocks are on the surface and the water is underneath. You can hear it rushing through its subterranean channels. Another feat of the race course, one not so pleasant to contemplate, is the fact that the rocks are infested with snakes of several kinds and all sizes, Rattlers, however, seem to be in the great majority.

As you climb on up the mountain you presently come to the observatory at High Rock. It is a three-story structure and rises about 40 feet above its rock foundation. They say it is necessary to anchor it to the rocks by massive bolts in order to preserve it during the gales that blow at this high point. It is about 2,000 feet above sea level. As you stand there looking, first into Pennsylvania and then into Maryland, you feel that it has been aptly named “the place of perpetual breezes.” Straight down below the observatory falls a precipice nearly 200 feet deep. About 1,000 feet below, the railroad winds its sinuous course down the mountain. The valley, broad and checkered, lies beyond. Your guide points out to you the steeples of Chambersburg, 24 miles away. Then, he turns and shows you the cluster of buildings that is Hagerstown, just about as far in the opposite direction. The blue peaks of the Appalachian Mountains skirt the horizon and form an entirely fitting background for the picture.

There is just one higher spot than this. It is known as Tip Top Tower, and is located on the summit of Mt. Quirauk, 2,500 feet above sea level. From this altitude, you can see, on a clear day, into 22 counties of the four states of Maryland and Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The locality has special historic charms, for in the late war, the two opposing armies met time and again at one point or other within sight of Mt. Quirauk. Further back than that in the Revolutionary War, savages and Hessians, imported from across the sea, trod the same ground on which you now stand.

Monday morning you start down the mountain side to bustling Waynesboro. This town is the industrial center of all the surrounding country. As an indication that this is not mere flattery, let me tell you that in the borough of 9,000 inhabitants, there are about 900 telephone stations. The percentage of development will strike you at a glance as being rather exceptional in a community of this size.

Thus, your weekend comes to a close. You have enjoyed yourself, learned a number of things, and missed a number of interesting points, no doubt, and you return to your work pleased mentally and refreshed physically. As you take your seat in the comfortable train and coast easily down the side of the mountain, two things are firmly settled in your mind. First, that the Blue Ridge Mountain region is an ideal pleasure and rest resort; and second, that Waynesboro is a thoroughly alive community both from the telephone man’s point of view and from that of any other business man.