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Helen Xia

On May 24th, the Catoctin Class of 2023 had their graduation ceremony at Emmitsburg’s Knott Arena. While it’s one of the most exciting times at Catoctin High School, it’s also one of the busiest–for good reason. Catoctin is known for its well-rehearsed procedures during this celebration, and this year is no exception. I was present during the two days of graduation practice, where the senior class and Catoctin band committed to running through the steps of graduation until they were “drilled into” everyone’s heads. (Each practice was about three hours!) From the timing of when to walk down the aisle to when to sit down after receiving diplomas, the seniors practiced precisely how the process would play out. You may remember my article last month about graduation’s incredible organization–well, this is where that coordination comes from!

Secretary Lacee Andrew (who was named the FCPS School-Based Secretary of the Year!) offered insight on the “behind the scenes” of the ceremony. “There are so many little details that go into planning graduation and the awards ceremony,” she stated. “Some of those things are looking at each student’s birth certificate to check the spelling of their name to ensure diplomas are printed correctly, creating a very large spreadsheet to capture all awards/honor societies, etc. The work of graduation starts months before the ceremony takes place.” Again, these oftentimes invisible efforts are what make the celebration run so smoothly. Thanks to the dedicated staff members’ contributions, the precious emotions at graduation can be the focal point of the event.

Speaking of emotions, there is much thought behind the speeches given at graduation to convey so many sentiments in so few words. One may think that, since the event itself remains constant year by year, the speeches can be recycled and reused–however, that is not the case. “Each graduating class is comprised of unique personalities, causing each graduation to be unique,” Catoctin Assistant Principal Mary Jacques expressed. “I always look forward to listening to the speeches and performances, which are different every year.”

Principal Jennifer Clements shed some light on her thought process when formulating her touching speeches: “My favorite line (I say this frequently and not just at graduation, but I definitely include it in every speech) is: Use your powers for good! I will admit my speeches every year are similar, yet I work hard to personalize [them] for the group that is graduating. This year, I took some inspiration from this class’ freshman yearbook. (I wanted to remember who they were as ninth graders to reflect on their growth over the last four years, and they have come a long way!)”

Despite the great amount of work behind each graduation, it’s “the happiest day of the year,” as described by Jacques. This sentiment was echoed by Clements, who explained, “Graduation is my favorite day of the year. I love that we get to celebrate the culmination of our students’ commitment and work for the past 13 years. I also love the positive energy and emotions that everyone (graduates, staff, families, and friends) are feeling – pride, joy, anxiety, and excitement.”

Within the ceremony, there are numerous noteworthy aspects. Personally, I enjoy listening to each class’ musical selections the most. During graduation practice, for instance, Seth Remsburg’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the baritone saxophone was phenomenal. Professor Russell Headley also sang “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver with his guitar, which received loud praises from the crowd. Last year, even, I remember taking special notice of the singers when I watched the Class of 2022’s graduation live online. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I could never do that!” Thoughts like these only make me appreciate the students who show their talents to the audience at graduation more.

Of course, there are many more elements to the ceremony than the musical performances, so I asked others what stood out the most to them during graduation. Interestingly, I received three different answers from the three staff members I interviewed. “My favorite part of graduation is when, as a graduating class, the tassel on the mortarboard is moved,” Jacques replied. “It is an old tradition that visually imparts the end of the high school years and a new beginning.” Andrew said, “My favorite part of graduation is watching the excitement and the happiness in students’ eyes as they walk across the stage, knowing their hard work paid off.” Finally, Clements responded, “I have two favorite parts of graduation. The first is seeing all of the graduates lined up in the fieldhouse just before the ceremony. The excitement and pride is palpable. My most favorite part is the privilege I have (as the principal) to shake each of their hands as I give them their diploma.”

For those that are graduating, Andrew gave her best wishes: “You have made such a positive impact at Catoctin High School. I wish you the very best in this next chapter of your life!” Jacques, too, provided wise advice: “Be a good human. Work hard and be kind. If you can, travel the world. Meet new people and experience new cultures. It will make you appreciate what you have. Never forget where you came from and where your roots lie.” And, don’t forget Clements’ favorite saying: “Use your powers for good!”

At graduation practice, I felt proud of Catoctin’s seniors. I watched from the bleachers as my peers received envelopes of their hard-earned cords, final report cards, and certificates. According to Andrew, “117/192 graduates will be recognized for their achievements (4-year honor roll, honor level, honor society membership, top 5%, etc.)”; this is a time for recognition indeed.

It’s surreal to think that, after this graduating class, my class will be the oldest in Catoctin High School. Next year, instead of sitting to the side and watching students rehearse, I’ll be sitting on one of the chairs and walking across the makeshift stage. I don’t think I’m ready, but I guess I have to be.

Once again, congratulations, Catoctin’s Class of 2023! Go, cougars!

President Harding’s 1922 Visit to Gettysburg

Richard D. L. Fulton

Based in part on The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles, & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg by Richard D. L. Fulton and James Rada, Jr.

The year was 1922, four years after the end of the First World War, when more than 5,000 Marines, along with their artillery, tanks, and dive bombers, descended upon Gettysburg—following their week-long trek from Quantico, Virginia, to the historic Civil War battlefield of 1863—for their annual summer maneuvers.

The ensuing activities by the Marines at Gettysburg involved a good deal more than routine drills and mock battles as part of their training. Many of the “battles” held from July 1 through July 3, especially on the field of “Pickett’s Charge,” were open to the public, and on July 4, the Marines would reenact Pickett’s Charge as if the Union and Confederate forces had the military equipage that had generally been available to the Marines in the wake of World War I.

Why Gettysburg?  The Marines’ “invasion” of Gettysburg in 1922 traces its causation back to the 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood at the end of World War I as the result of the animosity that had developed between United States Army General John “Blackjack” Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in Europe during the war.

That animosity was more or less of Pershing’s own making. In need of more manpower to resist the German attempt to capture Paris, the general requested that the Marines, who were (and still are) a branch of the U.S. Navy, assist in bolstering the forces of the U.S. Army present. Thus, the Marines became part of the forces arrayed to join in the counterattack on the advancing Germans.

As preparations for the the counter-offensive took place, Pershing ordered that the media could not mention specific Army units in their reportage of the war, but that decree could have no effect on the Marines, who were merely “on loan” to the Army.

To make a long story short, this resulted in the media gravitating more to focusing on Marine participation, since individual units could be identified, giving news accounts a more personable appeal… so much so that when the attack on the Germans in Belleau Wood broke the German Line, the Marines would then receive the lion’s share of the credit up to, and including, the Marines being billed on the front pages of American newspapers as being the heroes of Belleau Wood, in spite of heavy Army participation.

This “got under Pershing’s skin,” and then to add insult to injury, the French renamed it “Marine Wood.”

At the conclusion of the war, Pershing spearheaded an effort to have the Marines disbanded, and as his congressional support gained momentum, the existence of the Marine Corps was in serious jeopardy.  Even President Woodrow Wilson supported the effort.

From the end of World War I, all the way up to the end of World War II, there were more than a dozen attempts to disband the Marine Corps, leading to Robert Coram writing, in Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine, “But when the Marines were not needed, there was an ongoing effort to abolish them or absorb them into the Army … It seemed that the hardest fighting the Marines ever did was fighting for the privilege of defending their country.”

To counter this assault on the Marines, Marine Major General John A. Lejeune and General Smedley D. Butler developed a plan to combine their corps summer maneuvers with public events to promote the corps and advance its popularity in the public eye over and above the popularity which it had achieved at the end of World War I.

This led them to the idea of holding their maneuvers on Civil War battlefields and combining those maneuvers with public reenactments of the various battles. Ultimately, there would be four of these annual events: the Wilderness in 1921; Gettysburg in 1922; New Market in 1923; and Antietam in 1924.  Ironically, Pershing had previously dubbed the Battle of Belleau Wood as the “Gettysburg” of World War I. 

Thus, over 5,500 Marines of the Fifth and Sixth Marine regiments set forth from their base at Quantico on June 19, thereby commencing on “the long march” which would take their column of troops, tanks, artillery, and supply vehicles through Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Ridgeville, Frederick, and Thurmont, camping for the night in each of those towns before commencing with the final leg of their trek through Emmitsburg to the Gettysburg battlefield (which they reached on June 26). 

The Gettysburg encampment, which was established on the Codori Farm, was dubbed Camp Harding, so named for President Warren Harding, who also happened to be pro-Marine, as opposed to his predecessor, President Wilson. The Gettysburg encampment was estimated to have been approximately 100 acres in size.

The Marines would have some very special observers for their July 1 battle reenactment, including President Harding and First Lady Florence Harding, along with White House staff members and numerous military figures, including General Pershing (who had been lobbying for four years to disband the Marine Corps).

Since Harding and his entourage intended to camp with the troops at Gettysburg, the Marines created a canvas compound that would come to be known as the “Canvas White House.”

Work on the canvas structure was initiated in Quantico when Marine engineers created and assembled the frame of the entire proposed presidential compound, which, upon its completion, was disassembled and shipped to Gettysburg by rail, and then transported by trucks to the battlefield where it was then reassembled on the Codori Farm, located along West Confederate Avenue, just north of the North Carolina Monument.

The compound consisted of 11 canvas and wood structures (encompassing a total of 16 rooms and 6 bathrooms), with walls and ceilings covered with plasterboard.

All the tentage was provided with wooden plank floors and all were fronted onto a plank walkway leading from one end of the compound to the other.

The canvas and wood complex consisted of a central 40-foot by 25-foot reception room. Attached to the southern face of the reception room was President and First Lady Harding’s personal quarters, followed by three tents for male guests, and one tent for female guests.

Attached to the northern face of the room was Presidential Secretary George Christian’s quarters, also then followed by three more tents for male guests and one more tent for female guests.

The completed Canvas White House compound was some 400-feet in length and 175-feet in width.

Lastly, the entire compound was lit with electricity provided by on-site generators, and water was provided by “many miles of pipeline” the Marines had installed to tie the encampment into the Gettysburg water supply, allowing the compound to have hot and cold running water in the compounds’ respective bathrooms.  Radio communications was set up by the Signal Corps. Six porcelain bathtubs arrived, strapped to the bellies of six Martin MBT twin-engine torpedo bombers.

The president and his entourage left the actual White House and arrived on the Cumberland Township battlefield on July 1 and entered West Confederate Avenue, unloading the vehicles at the Canvas White House where they were met with a 21-gun artillery salute, which was preceded by a half-hour artillery barrage, representing the commencement of the charge—the barrage reportedly having been heard as far away as Hanover. 

Then, after settling into the compound, the president and members of his entourage watched the ensuing battle from a no-longer existing observation tower that had stood in 1922 in Ziegler’s Grove, along with Colonel E.B. Cope, Superintendent of the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park and a Union Veteran of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg.

Retiring to the compound after the battle, Harding and much of his entourage spent the night in the camp and left on July 2. The Canvas White House, however, continued to serve as quarters for other guests and dignitaries through July 4.

CANVAS WHITE HOUSE COMPOUND:  A — The Canvas White House Compound; B — President’s public reception room; C — President and First Lady Hardings’ quarters; D — Presidential Secretary George Christian’s quarters; E — Three tents on each side of the main tentage for male guests; F — One tent on each end of the compound for female guests.

Courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps Historical Company, modified by R. Fulton

The not-yet finished Canvas White House as it appeared before July 1. 

President Warren Harding watches the maneuvers from atop the Ziegler Grove observation tower. 

by James Rada, Jr.


Police Join LEOPS Pension Program

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently voted to move the Thurmont Police Department to the Law Enforcement Officers Pension System. They have discussed the move for years, and it is considered a more appropriate program for the police officers. The advantage is that it offers an earlier retirement age and enhanced benefits over the State of Maryland Pension System. The cost to move the current officers to the program is $45,000 a year for 20 years.

Parking Allowed on Park Lane

Given the controversy that allowing no parking along Park Lane caused among residents in the neighborhood, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners decided to return to the previous signage along the street that allowed for some parking. This was also the recommendation of Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler. The parking restriction had been a pro-active action to avoid possible problems with getting emergency vehicles into the area. However, since such a problem never occurred and the solution created anger among some residents, it was decided to revert to what had been working and deal with any problems if they arise.

Sewer Improvements Approved

The Guyer Brothers will perform sewer replacements along North Church Street, from the center of town to the high school. The cost of the project is $4,396,887. Most of this will be paid for using American Rescue Plan funds. The remaining $954,317 will be paid for using unrestricted funds from the town budget.

Construction Trade Services will make sewer repairs and replacement throughout town along Apples Church Road, Eyler Road, Roddy Road, and Vista Drive. The cost of these repairs is $85,000 and will be paid for with unspent FY21 capital project savings.

Town Considering FY24 Budget

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners are considering the proposed budget for fiscal year 2024, which begins on July 1. The proposed $5,016,075 budget is $247,557 greater than the current budget. No increase in the tax rate is currently proposed.

The general fund includes $1,605,200 for public safety; $359,171 for parks and recreation; and $767,400 for streets. The enterprise funds are proposed to be $1,060,300 in the water fund; $1,752,800 in the wastewater fund; and $1,827,260 in the electric fund.


Creamery Road Pump Station Bid and Change Orders Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a bid of $4,391,422 from Conewago Enterprises to construct the Creamery Road Pump Station. The project, which was started in 2018, is funded through sewer fees, USDA loans, grants, and a town match.

The board also approved two engineering change orders: one for $267,059 and the second for $13,704.

Board Considering FY2024 Budget

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners has started considering the FY2024 town budget, which will take effect on July 1. The general fund is projected to increase 6 percent to $2,181,496.

The water fund is expected to decrease 8 percent this year to $680,801. The sewer fund is expected to increase by 7 percent to $1,018,155. A new stormwater management business fund is expected to be $15,000.

The property tax rate is proposed to remain at 34.64 cents per $100 of assessed value. A 4 percent COLA is also proposed for employee salaries.

Board Makes Budget Transfers

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved transfers to capital projects using $357,977 in excess revenues from the FY22 budget. Of this amount, $122,000 needs to be transferred to the FY2023 general fund. The remainder will go to streets ($75,000), streetlights ($72,000), pool ($5,300), Rainbow Lake ($37,850), grant matches ($24,327), and general projects ($21,500).

Parking Permit Options Added

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved changing the types of parking permits offered in town. The new permits will be $20 for one month, $57 for three months, $108 for 6 months, and $204 for 12 months.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day and had the opportunity to spend time with your family. The Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market is now open on Saturday mornings at the Community Park. I encourage everyone to visit the market and any other community events we are having. Watch for upcoming Concerts in the Park and others.

You may have heard that the board of commissioners (BOC) has voted to join in a multi-jurisdictional law suit against manufacturers of PFOAs and related chemical compounds. These chemicals are known as forever compounds because they resist breaking down naturally. They were used in many products, including fire-fighting foam, waterproof clothing and boots, non-stick cookware, and even items like pizza boxes. These chemicals have managed to get into our drinking water sources, and recent changes in allowable levels from the Environmental Protection Agency and Maryland Department of Environment will require that Thurmont and thousands of other communities across the USA take action to remove these chemical compounds from our water systems. We are currently working with our engineering firm to design the filtration systems needed to bring our levels down to a non-detectable level. This will require filtration units at each of our water treatment facilities. Not only will we need the filtration equipment, we will also need to build additions to our treatment facilities to house the filters and plumbing and electrical equipment to operate them. The initial costs will be high, but what is more troublesome is the unknown costs for the safe disposal and replacement of the filter elements or filtration materials. Looking ahead, the BOC has decided to participate in the legal action in an effort to help cover the associated costs. The cost for upgrading the systems will fall on the consumers, so any relief we can get in a settlement will help off-set the costs our residents will be paying. We are moving forward with the design, purchase, and installation of the required equipment. It is our hope that we get support from the MDE or EPA and a settlement from the legal action to help defray the costs. We do not expect to be made whole by a settlement but we hope that funds will be awarded to help defray the costs. While the design and installation process is moving forward, I want to reassure everyone that we are following the guidelines set forth by the EPA and MDE.

Work continues on Frederick Road leading up to milling and resurfacing later this summer. The Thurmont Water Department installed three new 8-inch gate valves at the Frederick Road and Thurmont Boulevard intersection. This will ensure that a planned commercial improvement on Thurmont Blvd. will not require cutting the new blacktop. They have also installed a new 8-inch gate valve on the Moser Road water main at Frederick Road. This new valve will allow the crew to isolate the water main if it needs to be shut down in an emergency. A private contractor has been working to upgrade the storm water collection basin on Frederick Road. These are all over 40 years of age and have been having issues. The new basins will help improve the flow of storm water off of the road surface. They are also upgrading the sidewalk and entrance to Community Park in advance of milling and repaving. These projects have caused some delays and slowed traffic, but in the end, the new road surface will be well worth the inconvenience. The Town has just put out an invitation to bid on the milling and blacktopping. The contract should be awarded within a month, and at that time we will have an approximate start date for the final phase of work.

The Town of Thurmont will also be starting a rebuild of North Church Street this fall. This project will include the complete rebuilding of the water and waste water infrastructure on the roadway. The infrastructure has been in place for many years and sections are failing. We will be removing existing terra-cotta pipe wastewater lines and wastewater laterals. We will also be removing an abandoned water pump installation beneath the Church Street and Emmitsburg Road intersection. This work will provide much-improved services for residents served by the lines we are replacing. During the work, one lane will be closed and flagmen will be onsite to keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible. Once our work is finished the state will blacktop the roadway.

As always, please wear sunscreen, hats, and long sleeves when outdoors. Make sure your kids, family, and friends are also protected for their safety. I can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 301-606-9458.


Mayor Don Briggs

Why should we protect our mountains, farms, and historic districts? Because it defines us. Recently, our daughter moved to Lexington, Kentucky. She had sold her horse farm in Virginia, spent a year traveling around the world, and then, surprisingly, extended her horse-related career in the horse capital of the world: the bluegrass state. In a recent visit, we drove by miles and miles of horse farms with new foals abounding; ate lunch at Keenland Racetrack; toured the Kentucky Horse Park, home of the Olympic equestrian team; and watched the world-renowned Rolex three-day competition event. Our daughter’s grandparents’ farm was named Houyhnhnm, a name taken from the Jonathan Swift novel, Gulliver’s Travels. Houyhnhnm (pronounced win-em) was a mythical country of superior intellect horses. Though our daughter will be traveling a lot in her new role in the horse world, it sure seems and feels like she lives in that special place, the Camelot of horse lovers, Houyhnhnm. We’ve got it special, too. Let’s protect our special setting that forms us. Something akin to the Irish bard’s description, Dinnshenchas, the embodiment of place and who we are.

I attended and gave the welcoming address at the 42nd National Firefighters Foundation Memorial Weekend held on the weekend of May 6-7. The commemoration was previously held annually the first weekend in October. As in previous years, thousands of guests visited Emmitsburg to honor those who gave their lives in fire service. The weather cooperated for a fitting tribute for those firefighters who were always there for us. Many people have asked what my message to our guests was, so here it is:

“Good evening. On behalf of the residents of Emmitsburg and Northern Frederick County, welcome.

Thank you for again sharing this solemn tradition with us, the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service weekend, as today we honor these firefighters. 

Every year as mayor, I am given the honor to welcome you. And every year I have to call upon wisdom far greater than mine.

It is written that success in life is measured by whether we use the gifts/talents that we are given. It is also written, as if to answer that challenge, ‘Be not afraid.’

For your contributions to your communities across the county, responding to that call in the middle of the night, always that challenge is there and begs an answer.

As it was for these firefighters we honor today, the answer they gave was yes, and the answer they expect from you and all of us is: Be not afraid.

They were a success. They used their talents well. Welcome. Our town is yours.”

After many hours of preparation by a faithful group of volunteers led by the Lions Club and most of our civic groups, including the Knights of Columbus and Masons, the Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day will be Saturday, June 24. Great community event in Myers Community Park: vendors, games, multiple food choices, parade, and fireworks. 

Parks are alive with activities. People are enjoying the new bleachers for baseball and softball games in both Memorial and Myers parks. New covered places with grills are being used. More walkers are out and about now that the town is more connected with the sidewalk improvements throughout the town and missing connections in the parks that were made in the last decade. Again, we are becoming a well-connected pedestrian and bike-friendly town that is less car dependent and offers a diversity of both active and passive recreational opportunities.

The community pool opens on Memorial Day Weekend and will be open on weekends, then daily after schools let out. Pool party dates are set, one for each of the summer months. Check with the town office or social media sites for dates and times.

The Farmers Market, located on South Seton Avenue, opens on Friday, June 23, from 2:00-8:00 p.m., and is going to be spectacular. It’s our best one yet: lots of vendors, children’s activities, and an ice cream truck to boot.

Come on summer. Emmitsburg is here and ready for all to enjoy.


Burgess Heath Barnes

On May 13, town elections were held for two council positions. Congratulations to Commissioner John Cutshall on his re-election and to former Burgess, Bill Rittelmeyer, on his election to serve as a council member. Thank you both for stepping up to serve our town.

At our May 9 town meeting, I informed the council that, unfortunately, our request for funding of $257,892.64 to be added into the county budget for a needed major electrical panel replacement at the water plant was not added. We discussed other ways to get it replaced. We will reconcile our records and see what is remaining from the ARPA funds we received as one option.

I also was informed that our request to have a grant issued under the Community Parks and Playgrounds to build a bathroom in the east side of the park was not approved. It appears, from what I can see, that out of the 70-plus projects that were awarded under this year’s governor’s budget, only one went to Frederick County.

On a bright note, we did receive the denial letter the day before the deadline for next year’s POS grant deadline, so we submitted the project under that, along with the request for funding the skate park. The meeting for that will be on June 6, along with the other municipality leaders in the county to determine the funding allocations; hopefully, we are successful.

Commissioner Dana Crum informed us that she has scheduled the company to paint the much-requested pickleball lines onto the tennis courts. That should happen in the next few weeks. The maintenance men have also removed the old playground equipment in one section of the park and the new equipment will be installed in July or August. I also gave an update on the town hall. A site plan has now officially been filed with the county and is going through the forestation and storm water management permitting process at this time. Once those are approved, the process will begin flowing through the permitting channel, hopefully, at a quick speed.

The FY2024 budget was presented to the council and several items were discussed and some changes made. At the June 13 town meeting, the budget will be voted upon during the first half of the meeting and the two new council members will be sworn in to continue the second half of the meeting.

 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 [email protected] or call 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] 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.

Deb Abraham Spalding

In Lantz, Maryland, in the 1920s, three Bumbaugh daughters married three Buhrman brothers. One of those couples gave birth to Dollie Buhrman. One day, teen-aged Dollie spotted a boy working at Harrison’s Market in Cascade when she went there with her father to get ice cream. Dollie saw the boy and, “thought he was wonderful and cute!” 

To meet her today, you’d never guess that Dollie took the first step to meet her future husband. At the time, Dollie was determined. She told her friend, Ruthie, that she caught a glimpse of this guy at Harrison’s, and he needed to come to see her. With Ruthie’s help to arrange it, Roy Sanders from Greenstone, Pennsylvania, went to meet Dollie at her house. The two became sweethearts.  

In April 2023, that girl and that boy, Roy and Dollie (Buhrman) Sanders, stood proudly in their business, Sanders Market, in Cascade, greeting customers and exchanging jokes and pleasantries. 

When the couple met in 1953, Harrison’s Market was a two-room store that was in a house across from the current Sanders Market on Military Road in Cascade. Roy and Dollie live in that house now. 

Dollie graduated in 1954; Dollie married Roy (or did Roy marry Dollie?) in 1955; in 1956, Roy bought the Harrison’s Market’s stock and equipment with an option to buy the house in five years—Roy called the new business Sanders Market. In 1957, Roy was drafted into the U.S. Army.  

Roy needed his new bride Dollie to run the market while he was away. But Dollie was working at Clare Frock in Thurmont at the time, and she told Roy she couldn’t run the store. Roy responded, “Honey, I don’t want you to run it. I just want you to keep it open until I get back.”

Dollie quit Clare Frock, and Roy’s younger brother, Bub, and Dwight Dingle helped her.  

Roy returned after just two years of service in 1959. He added a room and refrigeration unit to the house/market and started cutting meat.  

On April 30, 1964, the Sanders moved the market into a newly built facility across the road from their house. 

Sanders Market has always been a family business. The Sanders’ three daughters, Rosalie, Kathleen, and Julie, all worked in the family business as youngsters. Kathleen Yarish pursued a career in healthcare. She helps her parents make their doctor’s appointments. 

The oldest, Rosalie Sanders-Luke, has always worked at the store. Shortly after marrying Bryan Luke, he also joined the family business. If you’ve been to Sanders Market, you will notice that they have a notoriously fresh deli and meats section. There is usually a line of customers awaiting their turn to be served.  

The youngest daughter, Julie, has always worked full-time at the store, aside from attending college at Frostburg and coaching part-time.

These days, Roy and Dollie fill in at the market from time to time, but they’re not seen at the market on a regular basis. Roy explained that he has had some health issues and hasn’t been very active for the past three years. “I miss the people,” he said.  

About the potential of a Dollar General store being built nearby, Roy explained that when he started, “There were 15 mom-and-pop stores in the immediate area. Of course, Fort Ritchie was thriving, so it was different.” He added, “There’s just a piece of the pie, and, hopefully, it’s a big enough piece to keep the doors open. We survived Walmart and Dollar General coming in. We’ve been very fortunate here. The community has been good to us.”  

Julie described the legacy, “The biggest thing about having a store like this is that your customers become family. When new people come in and you can help them, it speaks volumes when they come back and thank you.” 

Coming full circle, currently, two employees at the market have a father who also worked at Sanders. They’re enjoying comparing the generational gap.   

In 2023, Dollie and Roy Sanders will be married for 68 years, and the store will be in business for 67 years.

Cover caption: Roy and Dollie Sanders, proprietors of Sanders Market in Cascade, Maryland are shown in the store in April.

Photo by Deb Abraham Spalding

Inside caption: Dollie and Roy Sanders are shown with Roy’s brother Bub Sanders in the days at Sanders Market when it was located in a house.

James Rada, Jr.

With the weather warming up, people are looking to get outside more and have fun in the summer sun. This means that local carnivals are starting to visit the area with their mix of rides, games, food, and entertainment for the whole family.

Here are some of the local carnivals to look out for this season. Go support them because many of them also serve as local fundraisers for our schools and fire and rescue services.

May 30-June 3: Thurmont Ambulance Company Carnival at the Thurmont Ambulance Company Complex in Thurmont.

May 31-June 3: Mother Seton School Carnival at Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg.

June 12-17: Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company Carnival at 49 Memorial Drive in Taneytown.

June 21-24: Harney Fire Company Carnival at Harney Fire Company on Harney Road in Taneytown.

June 19-24: Guardian Hose Company Carnival at Thurmont Carnival Grounds in Thurmont.

June 26-July 1: Smithsburg Community Fire Department Carnival at Smithsburg carnival grounds.

July 25-29: South Mountain Fair at fairgrounds in Arendtsville, Pennsylvania.

August 14-19: Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company Carnival at Mount Tabor Park in Rocky Ridge.

September 15-23: The Great Frederick Fair at the Frederick Fairgrounds.

Richard D. L. Fulton

“The home of the Sisters of Charity… came very near being destroyed by fire today.” – The Baltimore Sun, issue of March 21, 1885 (the story was actually filed the day before).

Much of Emmitsburg’s remarkable history lies among the piles of old, long-forgotten newspapers, one of these stories being the Saint Joseph’s Academy fire of 1885.

The incident commenced around noon on March 20, 1885, when someone in the town noticed the flames rising over one of the academy buildings – in particular. The Baltimore Sun reported on the following day, “The sisters were at dinner, when a telephone message came from Emmitsburg inquiring if they knew the roof of the building in which they were sitting was in a blaze.”

The dining area was located in a dormitory (also then referred to as the Gothic Building).The kitchen was contained in a separate structure but attached to the dormitory. In addition to the kitchen and the dining room-containing dormitory, the academy also had several other structures as part of their overall complex at the time, including another dormitory, an “out-building,” a “main building,” and the church. At the time, the buildings and ground were said to be worth more than $1 million.

The revelation that a fire might be in the making had actually already been detected, although the source remained at that point unknown. The Baltimore Sun reported that several sisters in a different part of the dormitory had stated they could smell smoke and had begun to spread the word of a possible fire.

One might have expected a case of ensuing panic setting in, but that was not the case, as a number of sisters had calmed the others, and orders were given by Mother Euphemia to look out for the welfare of the pupils over and above concerning themselves with the fire.

Within minutes, the sisters had made contact with the institution’s 75 students and told the girls what was then transpiring, and “told them to get their wraps together,” and then had them assemble in the “exhibition hall,” in preparation for an evacuation, if proved as being necessary.

According to The Baltimore Sun, “The sisters say the girls were not frightened and even relished in the excitement, though of course they were distressed at the damage that was being done to one of the buildings.”

There were, at the time of the fire, about 200 sisters on the property, and they began to help move furniture and other property into other academy buildings, in spite of the building being on fire from which the property was being relocated.

As the two buildings (kitchen and dormitory) burned, the Emmitsburg Hose Company responded with their single fire engine. The Baltimore Sun reported, “The only obstacle that confronted the advance of the fire was gallant effort on the part of the Emmitsburg Hose Company,” adding, “The men worked with all their might and would have subdued the fire, had not the wind been so varying… nearly the whole town of Emmitsburg turned out to assist their fire company.”

Although the fire seemed contained and appeared to be that it would not spread to any of the other buildings, a call for additional firefighting assistance to completely extinguish the flames was sent out, and within 15 minutes, James McSherry, commissioner of the Frederick and Pennsylvania Line Railroad, reacted, and had a special train set-up at the Frederick depot which consisted of a steam engine, a passenger car, gondola and boxcar, according to Frederick’s The Daily News, March 21 issue.

Its load consisted of the Junior Hook and Ladder truck, a steam-powered firefighting engine of the Frederick Independent Fire Company, and a reel of additional hoses of the United Fire Company.

 The Daily News reported on March 20, further stating in their March 21 edition, that the complement also included 60 firemen and 30 civilians, and that, “The scene at the depot at the starting of the train was a very lively one. Men boarded the moving train and crowded at every quarter, eager to accompany the firemen, and willing to lend their aid in subduing the flames.”

The train was dispatched from the depot at exactly 2:25 p.m., two and a half hours after the academy blaze had been discovered and made the 11-mile trek into Woodsboro within 12 minutes. At Bruceville, the train cars were turned over to a waiting Western Maryland Railroad engine.

By 2:00 p.m., The Daily News reported on March 20, “The roof and walls of the new (dormitory) building have fallen in, and the flames are extending to other parts of the structure.”

Around 2:30 p.m., The Daily News noted, as did The Baltimore Sun, that a wire was sent requesting that fire engines from Baltimore be dispatched. While the requested fire engines were never sent, the newspaper noted that the Baltimore papers “monopolized” all the telegraph lines covering the story, making it difficult for other papers to get their stories through. The Daily News commented in their March 23 issue, “The Baltimore folks spun out yards of type and blew gusts of sympathy over the Emmitsburg fire, but they left Emmitsburg and Frederick boys to put the fire out.”

In all fairness, it was noted that it would take a “fire train” four hours to get from Baltimore to Emmitsburg, which would have conceivably been too late to have been of any worthwhile assistance.

By 2:45 p.m., it was believed that the fire would not spread beyond the building that had already been largely consumed.

Upon reaching Rocky Ridge, the railroad cars were then coupled to an Emmitsburg Railroad engine and taken to Emmitsburg. The loaded train then arrived in Emmitsburg at 4:30 p.m., according to The Daily News.

The incoming firemen and equipment were immediately faced with a couple of challenges as they deployed. First, the water in the boiler of the Independent Fire Company apparatus had frozen during the trip and had to be thawed out.”

Then Isaac Annan, of the Emmitsburg Water Company, was found sitting astride one of the water company’s hydrants, refusing to allow the Independent Fire Company firemen to hook up to it.

The Daily News reported that “after a consultation” involving Annan, the Commissioner of the Frederick and Pennsylvania Line Railroad, James McSherry, L. Victor Baughman, then managing editor of the Frederick Citizen, and a director of Saint Joseph’s (who was not identified), Annan “reluctantly gave his permission” to use the hydrant. One can only imagine the ensuing conversation that resulted in Annan surrendering the hydrant.

The Baltimore Sun reported that, as day became night, “At night flames shot upward spasmodically against the dark background of the mountains, illuminating the locality so plainly that different buildings could be clearly seen at a distance,” adding that around 9 p.m., the fire was finally “fully under control.” although portions (hot spots) continued to burn.

By 1:00 a.m., The Daily News reported that the fire was completely extinguished, and that the Frederick firefighters were sent home, arriving in Frederick around 3:30 a.m.

As a result of the determined effort of the firefighters, the academy only lost its kitchen and the dormitory, although a stable had also caught fire which was quickly extinguished and saved.

The numbers of firemen involved in fighting the flames may never be precisely known, but the sisters ordered that 125 suppers be prepared at a local hotel for those present at the scene of the fire.

The monetary loss of the two buildings was estimated at between $50,000 and $60,000. The fire was determined to have originated in the kitchen.

Joan Bittner Fry

Thomas was born near St. Leonard’s Creek in Calvert County, Maryland. He was an American Revolutionary War leader and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. He studied law in Annapolis, Maryland, and entered the provincial assembly in 1761 for the first time.

Thomas represented Maryland at the first Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774. At the Second Congress, it fell to him to nominate George Washington as commander-in-chief. He supported conciliation with Great Britain, but once persuaded that the effort was fruitless, voted for the Declaration of Independence, helped frame the Constitution of the State of Maryland, and, as the first brigadier general of the state militia, recruited 1,800 men to join Washington.

By now you may know that Thomas was Thomas Johnson, lawyer, politician, and justice, the fifth child of Thomas Johnson, Sr. and his wife Dorcas Sedgwick, who was the daughter of Joshua Sedgwick. Johnson had two older and five younger brothers and two older and two younger sisters; one brother died in infancy. Both his parents were Maryland natives of English descent; his paternal grandfather emigrated from Yarmouth, England. Thomas Johnson, Sr. arrived in Maryland in 1690.

Thomas and his siblings were educated at home (homeschooled). As a young man, he was attracted to the law, studied it with an established firm, and was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1753.

By 1760, he had moved his practice to Frederick County, and in 1761, he was elected to the Maryland Provincial Assembly for the first time.

Thomas then moved to Annapolis, where he obtained employment with the Land Office under the Register, Thomas Jennings. He left this position to study law with noted attorney, Stephen Bordley. He was first admitted to practice in the Annapolis Mayor’s Court and subsequently gained admittance to various county courts and, by 1767, to the Provincial and Chancery Courts. Thomas married Ann Jennings, the daughter of his former employer, Thomas Jennings. The couple had seven children, three sons and four daughters.

In addition to his law practice, Johnson was a partner with Annapolis merchant Lancelot Jacques in a western Maryland iron furnace. In 1774, he formed a partnership with three of his brothers Baker, Roger, and James in an ironworks that included several furnaces, forges, glassworks, and mills; principally, the Catoctin Furnace in Mechanicstown (Thurmont) to produce pig iron from locally mined hematite. A good grade of hematite ore was discovered in the Catoctin Mountains by Thomas Johnson. Catoctin Furnace was constructed to produce pig iron, which began in 1776. The furnace provided ammunition (cannonballs) for the American Revolutionary War. The fuel for the furnace was initially charcoal. The Catoctin forest provided this fuel until 1873. Then, the furnace was converted from charcoal to coal.

Iron from this furnace was used in the manufacture of car wheels and for foundry rolling mill purposes. Also produced during the beginning of the nineteenth century were the “Catoctin Stove,” also known as the “Ten-Plate Stove,” and the “Franklin Stove.” It is reported that during the Revolutionary War, cannons and cannonballs were cast at the furnace for George Washington’s Army when the Johnsons owned the furnace. Simple machinery for James Rumsey’s steamboat was made at the Catoctin Furnace Iron Works in the 1780s. Robert Fulton is credited with building the first successful steamboat, but he was not the first to apply steam power to boats. Rumsey began his invention before 1785. Iron produced at the Catoctin Furnace during Jacob Kunkel’s ownership was used to make the plates on the famous Civil War vessel, the Monitor.

It’s hard to imagine that the mountain was bare some one hundred years ago! It took a whole acre of trees just to power the furnace for one day, using more than 11,000 acres of forest to produce charcoal. After the furnace closed in 1903, the land was purchased by the Federal government.  During the Great Depression, many people were put to work by transforming the area into a park.

The “Isabella” furnace that remains today is the second of three furnaces that were built. The first furnace was built by the four Johnson brothers, including Thomas. The furnace was built here because all the required resources were available. Forests provided wood for charcoal that powered the furnace, the stream powered the bellows of the first furnace, and local mines provided iron ore and limestone. The furnace was in use during the Civil War and until 1903 when it was closed.

Johnson’s public career began with election as the Anne Arundel County Representative to the Lower House of the Maryland General Assembly. He also participated in committees to guide the Stamp Act Congress to resolve the constitutional rights of freemen, and to supervise the building of a new State House. He was then elected to represent Maryland in the Continental Congress, and during the Second Continental Congress, he had the honor of nominating George Washington as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Thomas was a senior brigadier general in the Maryland Militia and commanded troops sent to aid George Washington during his retreat through New Jersey in that winter.

In 1777, the legislature elected Thomas Johnson as the first governor of the State of Maryland. His inauguration was held in the State House, which he helped to create. Johnson was re-elected unanimously the next two years (the statutory limit for consecutive terms at that time). As governor during the Revolutionary War, Johnson prepared for possible invasion by British forces and secured provisions for Washington’s troops.

Upon leaving office, Johnson settled at “Richfield,” his Frederick County estate. Although elected to represent Maryland in Congress in December, in both 1779 and 1780, he declined to serve. Instead, he accepted a seat from Frederick County in the House of Delegates, where he encouraged a vote in favor of the Articles of Confederation. He resigned this post in 1781 and resumed the practice of law; however, he returned to the House in 1787 and 1788 to shepherd the Federal Constitution through the ratification process and to support George Washington in his bid for the President of the United States. In 1790, Johnson accepted an appointment as chief judge of the General Court, serving until the next year when Washington appointed him to the United States Supreme Court. Thomas Johnson also headed the Board of Commissioners of Federal City, helping to choose a site and a name for the new national capital.

Thomas Johnson, Jr. died on October 26, 1819, at “Rose Hill.” He was buried in the family vault in All Saints’ Parish Cemetery, but in 1913, his body was removed to Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick where a monument was erected in his honor.

*See Suggested Day Trip On page 23.

The following is recommended as an ideal family day trip. See Joan Bittner Fry story on page 20.

The remains of the iron works Thomas Johnson founded can be seen at the base of the Catoctin Mountain in Cunningham Falls State Park in Thurmont in Frederick County, Maryland. The furnace can be reached from the Catoctin Furnace Trail, which goes from the main entrance of the park to the furnace and manor area, off US 15 North, off Route 806. The furnace has been reconstructed to preserve its history and to make this area safer for people to visit.

In addition to the furnace, there are other sites to see within walking distance. The Catoctin Furnace Trail leads alongside the manor, where one of the furnace owners (James Johnson) lived. Many years ago, the manor burned down, so today only the stone walls remain.

Along the trail, you will notice dark black rocks called slag, a byproduct of pig iron production.  Next to the trail, you can see remnants of the raceway and dam that were used to power the first furnace. The trail leads over the Bowstring Arch Bridge, which crosses US 15, and ultimately to the park. The visitor center also has history exhibits on the area, including information about the Catoctin Furnace. The Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo is also nearby.

Another interesting place to visit is Rose Hill Manor Park & Children’s Museum. It is a two-and-a-half-story house, located at 1611 North Market Street in Frederick. It was the retirement home of Thomas Johnson, the first elected governor of the State of Maryland and Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. After the death of his wife, Thomas Johnson spent the last 25 years of his life living as a guest of his daughter, Ann Jennings Johnson Graham, and son-in law, Major John Colin Graham, at their home on the land gifted to them by Thomas Johnson on the eve of their wedding.

by James Rada, Jr.


Program Open Space Projects Decided

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners decided on a selection of projects to request Program Open Space money to fund. The total is estimated to be $479,500. It is unlikely that all of the projects will be funded this year, so they also needed to be prioritized.

The projects are:

Hunting Creek pedestrian bridge completion – $75,000.

New parking area for 89 spaces at Eyler Road Park – $250,000.

Expanding the East End Dog Park – $7,500.

Mountain Gate Trail from Weis to the Thurmont Library – $47,000 for materials only.

Two pickleball courts at East End Park – $100,000.

Town Oil Recycling To End

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to remove the oil recycling center that was located near the Thurmont Library. The site was badly used by people bringing oil or transmission fluid for recycling. In many instances, this resulted in oil being spilled on the ground and contaminating it. Tracy’s Automotive and Advance Auto will continue to take oil for recycling in town.

Property for Flood Mitigation Purchased

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved up to $80,000 for the purchase of .91 acres. The property is the last parcel that was needed so that work can begin on the Emmitsburg Road flood mitigation project. Once completed, it should alleviate the flooding problems along U.S. 15 to Emmitsburg Road and down to Woodside Avenue.

Social Media Policy Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved a general social media policy for town social media accounts. The policy has two options. An account can be simply for dissemination of information and does not have to allow for the comments.

However, if the account does allow comments, it needs to be monitored so as not to allow for inappropriate comments, while at the same time not infringing on a person’s first amendment rights.

Thurmont Boulevard Postponed

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners have postponed development of Thurmont Boulevard for the foreseeable future due to the need to use funds to eliminate the trace amounts of “forever chemicals” found in the town’s water supply. They also hope that when they return to the project, they will have some better options for funding it.


Sewer and Water Rate Increases Coming

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners voted in April to start increasing sewer and water rates in town to bring the rates up to the point where the systems are sustainable. The discussion has been going on since last October.

“We can’t kick it down the road anymore,” Commissioner Frank Davis said.

During the public hearing, five residents spoke out against the increases, urging the town commissioners to find income from other sources or a different way to phase in the increases. The commissioners pointed out that they have reviewed a variety of plans, but they are all going to be painful. Also, for the town to be eligible for federal and state loans, they have to show they have a plan in place to be self-sustaining. In essence, to show they can repay a loan, they have to show they have enacted changes that would mean the town probably wouldn’t need to loan.

The commissioners voted:

    Increase sewer rates 3 percent a year.

    Increase water rates 36 percent a year for 5 years and then 3 percent a year, thereafter.

“Do I like it?” Commissioner Amy Boehman-Pollitt said. “No, I don’t. Do I want water? Yes, I do.”

Water rates haven’t increased since 2013, and sewer rates haven’t increased since 2006.

Sheriff’s Contract Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a contract from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office to maintain community deputies in the town. The contract for FY2024 was 5.1 percent greater than the current contract.

Recently Awarded Grants

The Town of Emmitsburg was recently awarded the following grants:

Rainbow Lake Parking Lot for $44,500 to pave a 10- to 12-space parking lot at Rainbow Lake.

Community Park Pavilion Improvements for $30,500 to install a new pavilion roof, repair rotting wood, pressure wash, sand/stain, replace 10 picnic tables.

Memorial Park Pavilion Improvements for $22,000 to repair pavilion rotting wood, pressure wash, sand/stain, replace 11 picnic tables.

Baseball Field Bat/Helmet Racks for $3,000 to purchase bat/helmet racks for the remaining three ballfield dugouts (fields #5, #4 and #2).

DHCD Operating Assistance Grant – Main Street Improvement Grant for $10,000 to replace 102 streetlights along Main Street.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

May is Skin Cancer Awareness month, and I want to help make you more aware of this common health issue. There are several different types of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell skin cancer, and squamous cell skin cancer.

Nonmelanoma skin cancer is a very a common cancer in the United States, with more than 5 million people diagnosed each year. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which are nonmelanoma skin cancers, are the most common types of skin cancer. Nonmelanoma skin cancers rarely spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer. It is more likely to invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body than the more common forms of skin cancer. Melanoma is more common in men than women and among individuals of fair complexion. Unusual moles, exposure to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight (such as from tanning beds) over long periods of time, and health history can affect the risk of melanoma.

Many skin cancers can be prevented by using sunscreen, wearing large-brimmed hats, long sleeves, long pants, and minimizing your direct exposure to sunlight. Be sure to keep these recommendations in mind for yourself and your family, especially your children. Sunburn can be the beginning of skin cancer that will not appear for many years.

Early detection is important for skin cancer, and the following are the things everyone should be on the lookout for:

A new, expanding, or changing growth, spot, or bump on the skin;

A sore that bleeds and/or doesn’t heal after several weeks.

A rough or scaly red patch, which might crust or bleed.

A wart-like growth.

A mole (or other spot on the skin) that’s new or changing in size, shape, or color.

If you see any of the above signs, please see a dermatologist and have it addressed. My experience with skin cancer began about 35 years ago when I had a half-inch diameter piece removed from my upper back. I went to Dr. Warner who told me it probably started when I got burned as a youngster. He often told me cancer can take years to mature and that I would probably have a continuing relationship with cancer. He was right. After seeing him for about 20 years, he ended up recommending that I visit the cancer center at Johns Hopkins. I have been going there ever since. Over the years, I have had several surgeries on my nose, including two skin grafts, two surgeries that required my nose to be cut wide open, and countless sessions with topical chemo treatments. All the skin from the inside of my left ear was removed a few years ago, and I still have issues with it. I have had at least eight surgeries on my cheeks and forehead, including one in mid-April and another scheduled for mid-May. These have ranged in size from one to two inches in diameter. My scalp has been the worst area for me, having at least a dozen surgeries. Many of those have been one inch in diameter but two of them were three inches across and went all the way to my skull. Those required me to change the dressing regularly and apply salve to the skin and bone. The first one was surgically closed after two months, and my lymph nodes were removed when it was closed. I then had 28 radiation therapy sessions to kill cancer in my nerves the doctor could not remove. Since the radiation, I experience constant pain in the front part of my head. The surgery last June took nine months to close up by granulation, meaning nine months of almost daily bandage changes and wound care. This April, I had another surgery on my left cheek and my lower left back, and I have more scheduled in May. I also have a shelf full of costly cancer drugs and cremes I use every day to try to slow the progress of my cancers.

I used to tell people that I had “pretend” cancer that could be treated and removed easily. After all these years, it has occurred to me that my cancer is far from pretend; it is with me every day and causes a lot of physical and emotional pain. This is the result of not wearing sunscreen or hats for my entire outdoor working career. Please do not make the same mistakes I did. Always use sunscreen and wear protective clothing; it can make a big difference in your health for years to come.

Questions or comments? I can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 301-606-9458.


Mayor Don Briggs

Reminder, the 42nd National Firefighters Foundation Memorial Weekend will be held this year on May 6 and 7. The commemoration previously held the first weekend in October, henceforth, will be held on the first weekend in May. This offers better weather probabilities and less roulette challenges than early October presents. Please welcome the thousands of guests who will be visiting Emmitsburg that weekend to honor those who gave their lives in fire service. I will greet families and friends on Saturday evening. It is one of the most special times for me. The Sunday memorial service is open to the public, but it does take on special arrangements in taking buses from the Mount. It is best to contact the Fallen Firefighters Foundation for directions. Check the website at If you can’t make it, stop what you’re doing on Sunday and listen to the bagpipes and siren at our firehouse at the end of the service, as it joins in with all the firehouses across the country that closes out the service as a final tribute to those very special people among us.

Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day is not too far away, on Saturday, June 24. It is led by the Lions Club, with most of the other civic groups, Knights of Columbus, Masons, and the town pitching in. It is a great community event in Myers Community Park, with vendors, games, multiple food choices, parade, and fireworks. Coming soon is an updated website: Visit it.

Pickleball, pickleball. Last spring, the town had a pickleball court template printed over the tennis court in Myers Park, so there could be the choice for optional use. As tennis activity on the court ebbs, “pickler” use is strong, very strong. By one estimate, across the globe, 32 million people played the game last year. To take a shot at the surge, one community is developing a 32-court indoor pickleball facility. A developing consensus for the reasons for the success of the game is that it’s a great workout, easy to learn, social, low impact, equipment is affordable, and you can play doubles.

Another recreational activity that is growing almost exponentially is disc golf. One estimate is that over 4,000,000 people are playing the game. Our town course, located in Myers Park, is one of the most attractive courses in the region, drawing users from multiple states for casual and tournament play. The activity comes with an amazing cadre of volunteers who mow, weed, and maintain the course. Give it a try; we have some discs at the town office (security deposit needed).

New bleachers for baseball and softball in both Memorial and Myers Parks, covered places with grills, new tot equipment at Silo Hill Park, and basketball court installation has now started.

We are becoming a well-connected pedestrian and bike friendly town that is less car dependent and offers a diversity of both active and passive recreational opportunities.

To our seniors with fixed incomes, the presence of Frederick Health is up here, increased transit services to Frederick helps. But this is a tsunami, with the increased cost for everything. This week, we spent $7-plus for a box of cereal. The remnant government program for food stamps that paid $193 a month pre-COVID and was increased to $215 per month during COVID now has been reduced to $40 a month. How does that work?

The community Pool will open on Memorial Day weekend and will be open on weekends then daily after schools let out.

With spring upon us, summer soon to be, Emmitsburg is out there for each of us to enjoy.


Burgess Heath Barnes

On April 11, we held a public hearing before our regular meeting to discuss two proposed code changes and both passed. The first code change was to allow chickens in town, based upon the regulations that had been previously proposed and passed 4-0. An overview of the ordinance is that residents with lots less than one acre will be allowed up to five chickens. Residents with more than one acre will be allowed to have up to 12 chickens. Absolutely no roosters will be allowed. All wishing to have chickens can apply for their permit at the town office, beginning May 11, 2023. The second code amendment, which passed 3-1 from the council, with Commissioner Crum voting no, was to change the grass height allowed. Current code allows up to 18-inch-high grass. The new code will be changed to a maximum height of eight inches. Per town ordinance, both code changes will go into effect 30 days after the vote, which will be May 11, 2023. I thank the residents who came and spoke out about their concerns on either issue.

The town council was approached in March with a proposal to allow a third cellular phone company to rent space on our water tower. In the past, we have had three towers, but recently we have just had two. The council sent it back to the company for negotiations and our request was met, so it was unanimously voted on to allow them to rent the space, which will bring in more funds for the town.

This meeting was also the night to nominate candidates to run for the upcoming town election that will be held on May 13, 2023. Two of the four commissioner positions are open. Commissioner John Cutshall and Commissioner Dana Crum’s seats are both up for election. Commissioner Cutshall expressed interest in running again and was nominated to be on the ballot. Commissioner Crum has chosen not to run again and, unfortunately, no one else accepted a nomination to run. Although it is too late to appear on the ballot, if you are considering running, please do so as a write-in as we will have an empty council seat if no one runs. To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age and reside in the town limits for at least one year before assuming office. If you are not able to vote in person on Election Day, you may request an absentee ballot at the town office up until end of business on May 6, 2023.

On Sunday, May 28, the American Legion will host its annual Memorial Day parade. All are welcome to participate in the parade or just come out and enjoy watching. In addition, there will be a service pre-parade at the war memorial, along with a service in the American Legion post-parade to honor our military that we have lost. 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.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] 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. Johns United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

James Rada Jr.

The Gregory family of Big Hook Crane and Rigging operate cranes to carefully guide the crown atop the 26-foot statue of Mary at the Grotto at Mount St. Mary’s University.

Mary is shown being placed on her pedestal with her crown.

Brock Gregory (left) is shown with Mount St. Mary’s University President Tim Trainer.

Big Hook’s cranes are shown doing the work.

The statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg will once again wear a crown of flowers on May 7. The annual crowning of the statue will take place after noon Mass.

The ceremony involves the large crown of silk flowers being blessed at the church and then carried to the statue. Two people are then lifted up in a man-basket to place the crown on Mary’s head.

“The crown is six to eight feet wide,” said Steve Gregory, an owner of Big Hook Crane and Rigging. “It takes two people to lift it and place it on her head.”

The iconic 26-foot statue of Mary overlooks the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and Mount Saint Mary’s University campus from atop the 78-foot Pangborn Memorial Campanile. The statue is located at the entrance to the Grotto, where the old Church of St. Mary had been constructed in 1805 by the university’s founder, Reverend John Dubois, and which has also served as a place of worship for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, according to the Mount.

The ceremony has been happening since 2014, and Steve and Cecelia Gregory have always participated, along with their son, Brock, son-in-law Kyle Koelzer, and crew.

 Cecelia is a Mount Alumna with deep roots at the Grotto. Cecilia’s maiden name is Wivell and she is one of hundreds of Wivells in the area. It’s fitting that many family members have found their final resting place at St. Anthony’s Cemetery.

Cecelia’s brother, Jeff, wed his bride, Tammy, there, and the Blessed Mother can clearly be seen from the family farm in the valley below. Summer novenas hosted by Monsignor Phillips (who married Cecilia and Steve) were always well attended.

The Gregorys have donated the services of the crane and its operators each year. “Helping out with this means more to us than just a job,” Steve said. “We’re Catholic, and it’s part of being a part of the community.”

Not only is the statue in a tricky position to reach, but special care also has to be taken not to damage the statue. The man-basket is wrapped in blankets so as to not scratch the statue or damage the gold gilding.

The crown will remain on the statue’s head throughout the month of May. This Catholic tradition originated in Italy during the Middle Ages. It is called “The Thirty Day Devotion to Mary,” the May crowning. The ceremony honors Mary as the Queen of May and the Blessed Mother. Although the statue of Mary is crowned, Catholics recognize that it is not the statue that is celebrated but that which the statue represents: Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

The ceremony attracts close to 500 people, depending on the weather. “It seems to be getting more popular each year,” Steve said.

Big Hook Crane and Rigging was contacted in 2021 by Mount St. Mary’s University to remove the statue of Mary after she was found to be in dire need of structural restoration. That project required two cranes and the addition of other expertise, like Dan’s Welding and Fabrication. Everything was carefully evaluated by Brock, Steve, and the team of experts, including weights, welds, and placement of rigging to safely remove her on July 7, 2021, where she has stood since 1964.

She was loaded onto Big Hook’s truck and trailer for her journey to Manassas, Virginia, where she spent the next year getting structurally overhauled and restored. Finally, on July 29, 2022, Brock hauled her back to the Grotto, where she was restored to her plinth, overlooking St Joseph’s valley on July 30, 2022.

Part II

Richard D. L. Fulton

The mysterious beast made its continuing presence known again on January 29, 1921, when the Strange Beast of South Mountain was spotted near Pen Mar in Washington County, Maryland, near the Pennsylvania-Maryland state line. 

The Gettysburg Times reported further on February 1 that a county resident who resided between Pen Mar and Rouzerville, whom the publication identified as being John Simmons, spotted the elusive creature during the afternoon of January 29 as the local resident was walking through a field “near his home.” 

The newspaper reported, “At the time he saw the strange animal, Simmons was not armed, and he was not in the mood to enter combat with the gorilla.” 

The reader might conclude at this point that the unidentified creature, if not having been a gorilla, would have more than likely been a black bear, which is not uncommon in the mountains of Adams County, and sometimes rather plentiful. 

However, do bear in mind (no pun intended) that the residents of the county are nearly all quite familiar with these furry inhabitants, and certainly any of the hunters involved who spotted the animal would certainly have been quick in proclaiming that the mysterious critter was, in fact, a bear. But this did not occur, which suggests that this mystery creature was not a commonly encountered animal within the experience of the witnesses.

But, could it really have even been a gorilla? The Gettysburg Compiler (covering the on-going story for the first time in its March 19 issue) reported that an Edgar E. Wolf, of York Springs, wrote to the Biological Survey in Washington “to ascertain if there were any gorillas in the U.S,” and received a reply from the organization stating, “… there are no such beasts in the United States. The last one died in the New York Zoo some time ago.” 

Although reportedly obtained from a bureau of the United States government, one might question that agency’s claim that the last gorilla in the states had died sometime before the beast of Adams County began to appear, given that, on April 18, the Altoona Tribune reported, “‘John Daniel,’ the only gorilla in the United States, died today of pneumonia in his private room at Madison Square Garden, where he was appearing with a circus.”

However, to the agency’s defense, they might simply have not been aware of the remaining gorilla, and the article does state, “One of the animals [gorilla] died recently at the Bronx Zoo of the same malady,” so the Bureau of the Biological Survey can’t be completely discredited by their statement regarding the numbers of gorillas remaining in the states, at that time period.

Following the last sighting of the creature on January 29, the beast seemed to have gone underground during the entire spring and most of the summer (mating season?), resurfacing again in August, literally, in the streets of Gettysburg Borough.  This encounter was unlike those that had previously transpired, in that the creature was shot at by a local resident, and apparently struck, and left behind footprints, according to The Gettysburg Times.

The encounter in Gettysburg with the creature and local inhabitants was such that the coverage of it would not be limited to the local newspapers, notably The Gettysburg Times. The story would quickly spread to almost every major newspaper in the Mid-Atlantic states. Adaptations of the bizarre encounter as covered by The Gettysburg Times were printed in The Washington Times, Trenton (New Jersey) Evening Times, New Castle (Delaware) News, Wilkes Barre Time Leader, The Kane (Pennsylvania) Republican, and Altoona Tribune.

The local Times reported in their August 9 issue, “After having passed out of the limelight several months ago, the well-known ‘gorilla’ is back. It was in Gettysburg several nights ago … Not long ago a woman residing on York Street saw a strange object about four feet high moving along the fence in the rear of her house.” The woman rushed to a neighbor’s house, who armed himself with a shotgun and proceeded to try and find the beast.

The newspaper reported that the unidentified neighbor “saw the beast” and fired his weapon. “The gorilla dropped to the ground,” adding, “Thinking he had bagged his game, the gunner went toward the fallen animal.” However, the creature was hardly down for the count, and as the shooter approached, “the beast jumped to its hind legs and chased the man into the house.” 

Witnesses reported to the newspaper that “the animal disappeared in the direction of Biglerville,” and that “an examination of the ground in a field nearby revealed footprints of a strange beast.” 

Apparently, associating itself with the Borough of Gettysburg lost its appeal to the strange animal, as its next sighting was reported by Gettysburg resident, Howard C. Mitinger, who had spotted the animal near Fort Louden in Franklin County on August 12, while traveling back home from a meeting in Pittsburgh, according to The Gettysburg Times, August 13. According to the account, Mitinger saw the creature “sitting on a stump along the highway.” 

The sighting was verified by occupants of Mitinger’s vehicle, according to the newspaper, which included Mitinger’s “sister-in-law Mrs. George Ramsey, of Huntington; her daughter, Miss Jean Ramsey; and Robert Mathias, steward of the Hoffman Hotel.” 

Reports on seeing the elusive animal apparently slacked-off until August 21, when the creature was spotted near Fairfield Borough.

The Gettysburg Times reported on August 24 that, “Sunday evening while driving along the Fairfield Road, Ray Weikert saw the animal plainly as it crossed the road not many feet in front of his horse,” adding, “Not only did the young man see the beast, but the horse as well, and it was with difficulty it was kept from running away.” 

According to the Times, the unknown animal “crossed the road leisurely, walking on its hind legs, climbed the fence and disappeared in the underbrush.” The creature was described as being “about five feet tall.” 

Following this last encounter, the story seems to slip into the annals of cold cases, save for an effort by the press to place the blame of it all on the black bears of the nearby mountain ranges.

In a story published by The Gettysburg Times on November 7, more than two months after the last-noted sighting of the strange beast, the newspaper stated, regarding a reported encounter with a bear west of Cashtown, “Bears are an unusual sight in this section of the country and it is possible that the various parties in Gettysburg who believed they saw a gorilla at different times may have seen this huge black bear.”

And then a final effort, apparently, to pin the blame on alcohol.

In an article written by The Gettysburg Times regarding noteworthy incidents of 1921, and published in the newspaper’s December 31 issue, entitled, “Year Has Been One of Progress,” presumably tongue-in-cheek, it was noted, “January 21 – Seize truckload of liquor in Gettysburg. January 22 – Gorilla seen in county. January 26 – More liquor seized. January 27 – Men chase gorilla. January 29 – Seize high-proof whiskey. January 30 – Gorilla seen in daylight.”

Clearly, the “detectives” at the Times had solved the mystery in at least two different ways. Either it was a bear, or everyone was drunk when they thought they saw the mysterious creature. Whatever the case may be, the beast was not seen or heard from again… perhaps…

Fast forward… Alleged sightings of what may be the strange beast of South Mountain have continued to be reported in the South Mountain area from the 1980s into the 2000s, in areas ranging from along Route 116, between Gettysburg and Fairfield, to the area of the Greenmount Firehall, to multiple sightings (from the 1990s to the 2000s) in the Michaux State Forest, according to the Bigfoot Field Research Organization.

So, the quest continues, because “the truth is out there,” or not.

New Find Enhances Record

Richard D L. Fulton

There was a time when Frederick and Adams counties looked more like an alien world than that which exists today.

A primordial lake (dubbed Lake Lockatong) existed from Rocky Ridge, growing in size towards the northeast, as it sprawled through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and into New York State. Some 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.  Often, vast mud flats bordered the huge freshwater lake, giving way to conifer forests (based on fossil evidence gathered outside of Rocky Ridge).

This was during a period of time classified as the Late Triassic, some 220 million years ago.

Based on fossil excavations in Rocky Ridge and another nearby site, fossils recovered indicate that the lake teemed with fish, mostly those related to the present-day gars, sharing the water with five-to-six-foot coelacanths (whose ancestors gave rise to land vertebrates), and an ancient aquatic gator-like (but unrelated) reptile called Apatopus.

It should be noted that the reptiles and dinosaurs discussed are known only from their tracks, with the exception being Rynchiosauroides (noted below) whose body impressions have also been recovered at Rocky Ridge.

Hundreds of two-to-three-foot-long lizards (called Rynchiosauroides) patrolled the shorelines, diving into and paddling their way within the shallows in search of snails, clams, and freshwater shrimp, while prehistoric crickets, beetles, and millipedes scurried about the mudflats.

The lizards were occasionally joined by at least one species of dicynodont reptiles in their quest for more food. The dicynodonts, though reptiles, were also ancestral to the first mammals, and those of Rocky Ridge apparently established that these unique animals survived longer than previously assumed before,  themselves, becoming extinct.

But the local evidence of the beginning of the rise of another group of animals in the Late Triassic —the dinosaurs—can be found a little further north in Adams County.  Most of the dinosaurs during this period of time in the Mason-Dixon area ranged from a few feet in height or length to 12 feet.

The latest evidence of the local presence of dinosaurs occurred on June 9, 2012, when a remarkable bed of dozens of dinosaur tracks was found at an undisclosed, secured site located on private property, southwest of Gettysburg (for security purposes, The Catoctin Banner agreed not to reveal the exact location of the ongoing excavation, although the reporter was permitted to visit the site).

The discovery was initially made by Brian Cole, a member of the Franklin County Rock and Mineral Club, while hunting for crystals in the limestone deposits. Cole stated that the collectors he was with started finding fossil mud cracks and gathered up several specimens to take home. He later discovered one of the slabs had a clearly defined dinosaur track on it.

The find resulted in return trips to the site, which ultimately resulted in the discovery of dozens of dinosaur tracks, along with non-dinosaurian  reptile tracks. To date, more than 40 tracks have either been removed from the site or still remain on-site. How many remain to be found? Only time and further exploration will reveal.

The site in question consists of limey layers of rock which likely represents the shoreline of Lake Lockatong. Aside from the reptiles Rynchiosauroides and Apatopus, the new site added the tracks of two more (non-dinosaur) reptiles to the list, Desmatosuchus (which bore some resemblance to a crocodile with prominent spikes on its back and heavy back armor) and two different species of  Brachychirotherium.

The primary dinosaur present at the site has been identified as Grallator, also known only from its tracks, but it is believed to be related to better-known Coelophysis, whose skeletal remains have been found in New Mexico. There may be what turns out to be species of Grallator at the site, one larger than the other.  The much more plentiful smaller tracks may represent a different species of Grallator than the scarcer larger version.

The Grallator were bipedal carnivores, potentially ranging up to more than nine feet in height, and apparently hunted in packs. Over two dozen tracks were found on one layer at the site, all heading in the same direction. If Grallator was as Eastern Coelophysis, it could have had “feet (with) three main claws and a fourth, smaller claw positioned further up the foot,” and “The arms (that) were adapted for grasping and holding prey but are not thought to have been particularly powerful, a long and thin head, with jaws containing “around 50 small, sharp teeth,” according to

Grallator and Coelophysis are among the oldest known dinosaurs, and it is generally held that they primarily ate insects and other small animals. As has been demonstrated by finds made at the Rocky Ridge site, there was no shortage of insects and small reptiles living in the area during the Late Triassic Period.

In 1895, James A. Mitchell, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, found nearly two dozen, 220-million-year-old dinosaur footprints on two flagstone (shale) slabs found in the pathways leading up to Saint Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Emmitsburg, thus making them reportedly the only dinosaur tracks that had been found in Maryland from this period of time (the Triassic Period).

The tracks appeared to have been those of Grallator. One of the two slabs that were found by Mitchell is presently on display at the Maryland Science Center.

But the first “mother lode” of dinosaur tracks, which also included non-dinosaurian reptile tracks, including dicynodont, occurred in Adams County in Trostle’s Quarry near York Springs when the tracks were discovered by Elmer R. Haile. Haile made his discovery in the summer of 1937 when he and some associates were gathering stone for the Civilian Conservation Corps to be used in a bridge; they were building the bridge on South Confederate Avenue over Plum Run.

The Gettysburg Times reported on August 3, 1937, that three dinosaurs who left their tracks in the quarry were identified by Arthur B. Cleaves, state junior geologist and paleontologist, as Anchisauripus exsertus, Anomoepus scambus, and Grallator tennis, all three being bipedal (standing upright on two legs). The newspaper also reported in December 1937 that approximately 150 tracks were recovered.

The two blocks containing the dinosaur tracks that made it into the top layer of stones on the Plum Run Bridge have been identified as Atreipus milfordensis, a plant-eating dinosaur that walked on all four legs, and Anchisauripus sillimani, another bipedal meat-eater. The Trostle’s Quarry tracks have been dispersed over time to such places as the Smithsonian Institute, the William Penn Museum, the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburg, the Adams County Historical Society, and the bridge on the Gettysburg Battlefield (where they remain exposed and unprotected). 

As an aside, the species names of the dinosaurs (and reptiles) noted in the article can, and may have, changed over time. Paleontology, or the study of prehistoric life, is a constantly evolving science, in and of itself, and as more is learned about a given prehistoric species, sometimes new findings can result in name changes.


Adams County Grallator tracks (new site).

Photo Courtesy of Robert Weams (USGS retired).

Illustration Courtesy of National Park Service.

The Grallator were bipedal carnivores, potentially ranging up to more than nine feet in height, and apparently hunted in packs.


Atreipus tracks (Plum Run Ridge).

Photo by Rick Fulton.

Illustration Courtesy of Columbia University.

Atreipus, a plant-eating dinosaur that walked on all four legs.


The emperor penguin is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species and is endemic to Antarctica. They live in massive groups and are expert divers, capable of diving up to 1,850 feet below the surface and staying submerged for over 20 minutes.

Deep in the arctic lies an experience bone-chillingly cold, seldom explored, and terrifyingly unforgiving. It is also unmistakably beautiful and enlightening to see the farthest corners of the world.

Antarctica is a destination that many wouldn’t consider for a vacation. The average temperature during the Antarctic summer (November to March) can vary dramatically, depending on your location. The South Pole typically doesn’t exceed -4 degrees Fahrenheit during its 24 hours of continuous light, but the Antarctic Peninsula can be a balmy 32 degrees Fahrenheit if you make your trip in December.

Because of the extreme climate, access to the continent is reserved for scientists for most of the year. During the winters, temperatures can plummet as low as -83 degrees Fahrenheit, freezing everything across a barren and icy landscape.

Winters locally welcome longer nighttime hours, colder temperatures, and the occasional snowstorms. Winters in Antarctica change the continent much in the same way, but to a much more extreme degree.

Travel during winter becomes extremely dangerous, and it’s treacherous enough that nearly all ships and flights cease activity until the sea ice surrounding Antarctica melts off. It is almost complete darkness 24 hours a day. Traditional routes via boat or plane have enormous challenges navigating the harsh climate.

Summer months in Antarctica change the landmass so drastically that the continent’s surrounding sea ice expands from 3 million square kilometers in summer to 18 million square kilometers in winter.

For that reason, ships have much greater access to the breadth of wildlife that flourishes during the Antarctic summer along the Antarctic Peninsula. On the peninsula, you can spot a variety of animals you likely wouldn’t see anywhere else. The blue whale, Earth’s largest-ever animal, can be found in the frigid coastal waters, along with humpback whales, and even orcas. There are also 15 species of penguins among the vast variety of wildlife, hunting and fishing the waters of the Antarctic Circle.

Organizing a trip to a once-in-a-lifetime destination like Antarctica can seem like a daunting task, but there are two methods most travelers use to experience one of the most unique journeys our planet has to offer.

While there are no commercial flights to the icy continent, there are plenty of private operators that fly from the southern tip of Chile to King George Island, which sits just off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. From there, boats are available to ferry visitors along some of the islands and destination spots along the Peninsula.

By far, the most popular travel route is by boat, though. Most visitors from North America fly to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then take another flight to Ushuaia, colorfully nicknamed “the end of the world.”

Small cruise ships carry passengers from the southern tip of South America across the Drake Passage to reach the icy destination along the Antarctic coast. There are also longer term boat routes from New Zealand and Australia, but the trips typically last between three to four weeks and can, as a result, be tremendously more expensive. You do, however, get to come across some of the historic huts built during the world’s first expeditions to Antarctica. There are also active volcanoes, scientific bases, and a chance to see the largest penguins on earth, the Emperor Penguin.   

Boats from Australia and New Zealand reach the eastern coast of Antarctica in about six days of consistent sailing, so stops along the way to surrounding islands and wildlife points of interest will extend your trip significantly. Interestingly enough, you don’t even need a visa to get to Antarctica since it’s not owned by any country, so it’s a choose-your-own-adventure with your crew once you reach the Antarctic Circle.

While expensive, there’s no substitute for the life-changing experience explorers have discovering our planet’s most unexplored region. You may want to stick to the coast, though, because the pilgrimage to some of central Antarctica’s plateaus and ice shelves have reached temperatures as low as -128 degrees Fahrenheit, and may have been even colder on the barren surface.

If you’re seriously considering making the journey, be sure to bring a nice camera and a warm coat, because the sights and wildlife are sure to provide you with a lifetime of memories.

Blair Garrett

A little-known hunting hobby has hit the scene, and springtime is the perfect time of year to jump right in. Don’t tell anyone!

Frederick County is home to a lot of hunters, and it’s an activity that’s usually passed down from generation to generation.

This hunting activity, however, is quite a different kind of hunting. Mushroom hunting is a tremendously growing hobby, and a great way to get your daily steps, get to know your area, and add a locally grown ingredient to your family dinners.

Mushroom hunting takes a bit of knowledge to get started, but avid hunters count down the days until it’s warm enough for their favorite breed of mushrooms to start growing.

Knowing a mushroom’s ideal environment is a must. They are incredibly adaptive fungi that can flourish in a variety of environments, but they really excel in warm, rainy climates. Your common April showers followed by periods of mid-70-degree weather are when mushrooms really pop.

Mushroom foragers all over Maryland rave about hunting the elusive “morel mushrooms.” Morels are a distinct and very tasty mushroom that have become the darling of the hunting community. With a honeycomb-like top and great flavor, hunters spread far and wide come mushroom season when morels are in bloom. Typically, they’re most commonly found in May when the ground temperature starts to rise, but with how unseasonably warm this winter was, don’t be surprised if you find a few earlier than expected.

When picking mushrooms, it’s important to clip them or twist and pull right at the bottom of the stem. Pulling them directly out of the ground can damage the mycelium in the top of the soil.

Morel hunters can be very protective of their hunting grounds, so be sure to check and see if the area you’re hunting is encroaching on someone else’s territory. Keeping an open eye on fallen trees, tree trunks and the ground floor of shaded terrain should yield all mushroom hunters great results.

There are a few extremely important things to be aware of when diving into your first mushroom hunt. There are 100 different poisonous mushroom species, and nearly two dozen of them are potentially lethal to humans. It’s important to be able to identify what type of mushroom you’re interested in hunting and any potential similar mushrooms that may leave you with a bad stomach ache or worse.

Morels, the most popular mushrooms among fanatics, even have a poisonous alter ego. False morels look similar to their widely hunted counterparts, but they have a distinctly melted appearance to them and a lack of the trademark pitted holes that traditional morels have.

There are lots of online guides and resources for new and experienced mushroom hunters that can be of great help in identifying edible and dangerous mushrooms.

With thousands of mushroom species found across the United States, you are bound to have some variability in the taste of mushrooms. But mushrooms happen to be one of the most unique things our earth has to offer. You have delicious mushrooms, poisonous mushrooms, and mushrooms with very special properties.

Psilocybin mushrooms, or more frequently known as psychedelic mushrooms, gained popularity in the west in the 1950s. They have been used recreationally across the United States for decades until recently, where there’s been a big push to legalize the use of them for medicinal purposes.

Clinical trials have had extremely positive feedback for microdosing psilocybin mushrooms to treat things like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression, and have had a particularly strong impact treating veterans and cancer patients.

Though recreational use remains illegal, it has been decriminalized in select cities and has gained a lot of advocates as an alternative treatment option to standard pharmaceutical drugs in just the past few years.

While mushrooms have the potential to treat medical conditions and alter reality, perhaps the strangest type of fungus is the cordyceps fungi.

Cordyceps is a species of fungi that has been thrust to the forefront of pop culture through the popular game and HBO series “The Last of Us,” but the shocking reality of the “zombie fungus” is its real life method of transmission. In the show, a mutated strain of cordyceps allows the fungus to infect a human host, turning them into bloodthirsty zombies. In the real world, cordyceps fungi aren’t able to survive in humans due to our natural body temperature and a variety of other factors, but they are known to infect ants with spores, draining their host completely of nutrients while the spores reproduce.

What’s remarkable about these fungi is its interaction with the host once the host is infected. The spores from the fungi have a parasitic relationship where they can control the insect’s body until its eventual demise.

It’s theorized that the parasitic spores control the ant’s motor function through chemical changes or the manipulation of muscle fibers, but what is known is that the ants or infected insects will forcibly climb to higher ground, so when the spores are released after the host dies, it has easier access to spread.

As far-fetched as it sounds, there are tons of videos and documented cases of ants climbing to the tops of plants or grass while infected to spread the fungi across a greater area than it would be able to right from the ground it grows out of. That’s a terrible sci-fi film waiting to happen.

While cordyceps aren’t found locally, there are some really great and edible mushrooms that will be popping up in just a few short weeks. Whether you’re an annual mushroom hunter or a newbie looking for a great outdoor activity, the Catoctin Mountains is home to some of the best hunting grounds in Maryland, and there’s something out there to find for everyone.

by James Rada, Jr.


Town Approves Bond Issue

After a public hearing, the Thurmont Commissioners voted for the ability to issue infrastructure bonds up to $6 million. The proceeds from the bond sale will be used to complete the Thurmont Boulevard project and the wetlands mitigation. The town does not necessarily need to issue the bonds, but the hearing and vote were necessary in order for the town to pursue other sources of funding for the project. Most of the people who spoke were not in favor of the town issuing bonds. The vote was 4-1 in favor, with Commissioner Bill Blakeslee voting against the motion.

State Funding for Park Projects

The Town of Thurmont was recently approved for state grant funding of four park projects in town:

        $220,083 for the Gateway Trail Pedestrian Bridge over Hunting Creek.

        $256,000 for the replacement of the Community Park Tennis Courts.

        $10,000 for the East End Dog Park watering stations.

        $20,000 for the Trolley Trail Interpretive Sign Project.

These project grants will require no match from the town.

Juneteenth Holiday

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to make Juneteenth a town holiday to be celebrated on June 19 each year. The holiday represents the date of the emancipation of the last slaves in the Confederate States. It became a federal holiday in 2021.

Committee Appointments

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird recently swore in Kirby Delauter to serve on the Thurmont Board of Appeals and Ed Hutson to serve on the Thurmont Police Commission.


Sewer and Water Rate Increases Coming

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners is still considering how to implement the new water and sewer rates that will allow the system to be sustainable. The discussion has been going on since last October.

The recommended increases that it appears the commissioners will hold a hearing on this month are: (1) Increase sewer rates 3 percent a year; and (2) Increase water rates 36 percent a year for five years and then 3 percent a year, thereafter.

Water rates haven’t increased since 2013, and sewer rates haven’t increased since 2006.

New Park Grant

The Town of Emmitsburg was recently awarded a Program Open Space grant for $70,000. It will require a $37,500 match from the town. The grant is for a stormwater management plan to pave a 10- to 12-space parking lot at Rainbow Lake.

Commission Appointments

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners recently made the following appointments to town commissions:

        Scott Frager was reappointed to the Board of Appeals with a term of February 17, 2023, to February 17, 2026.

        Carolyn Miller was reappointed to the Parks and Committee with a term of March 13, 2023, to March 13, 2025.

        Martin Miller was reappointed to the Parks and Committee with a term of March 13, 2023, to March 13, 2025.

        Mark Walkers’ resignation from the Citizens Advisory Committee was accepted.

        Valerie Turnquist was appointed to the Planning Commission with a term of March 13, 2023, to March 13, 2026.


Mayor Don Briggs

With April comes traces of lengthening days, milder weather, and once again, the increasing choruses of activity in our parks. In addition to the hardy Emmitsburg Walking Club members (Look them up; they have a Facebook page), comes baseball and softball pushing the edges of each day for practice times. 

Earth Day will be celebrated this year on Saturday, April 22. Planned events start at 9:00 a.m. with a three-hour cleanup around town, fueled by the efforts of the town Citizens Advisory Committee members, families, and friends. For the second year, Stream Links will be planting trees at the wastewater treatment plant. More children-directed activities of plantings, games, music, and an ice cream truck are planned from noon to 2:00 p.m. behind the community center.

Once a year, it’s good to pay tribute to the original Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association (EBPA)-sponsored scholarship fund, which now brims over $28,000. Thank you to all the businesses that made the educational opportunities possible. Also, the EBPA “Change for Food” program has now raised over $52,000 for the Emmitsburg Food Bank. Thank you to old-guard EBPA members, Allen Knott for accounting and Bob Rosensteel for the idea and collection of donations at different business locations in town. It is my understanding that Bob will be stepping back from collections, and Phyllis Kelley of the food bank will be taking over for him. Thank you to Bob and Allen for many years of service.  

In mid-March, I toured the three construction projects underway at the Daughters of Charity St. Joseph House, of which the Basilica is a part. The former main entrance area off the Porto Concierge is being renovated into three museum exhibit areas and a gift store. Completion is scheduled for this August. In the northeast corner of the building, the “C” wing’s first and second floors, that were previously the nursing home, are being repurposed to house up to 40 pre-seminarians for the Mount seminary. Completed construction and use is also scheduled for August of this year. The third project entails the terrace and the first floor of the “E” wing, adjacent to the new museum, being renovated for use by the new Mount Saint Mary’s School of Health Professions, scheduled to open August 2024.

On Saturday, March 25, Emmitsburg Walking Club member, Melissa McKinney, walked a marathon, 26.2 miles around the Myers Community Park exercise trail loop that was inspired, in part, by a similar event held annually, now in its 34th year in Los Cruses, New Mexico, that commemorates the WWII 1942 Bataan Death March in the Philippines. Melissa walked the 51 laps, toting a 15-pound rucksack for her cherished causes for Veterans, Team Red, White and Blue, and Soldiers Angels.

At an event I attended and spoke at, County Executive Jessica Fitzwater announced Emmitsburg and Thurmont will soon have more access to County Transit services, with a pilot program to launch as of Saturday, April 1. Added to the existing service will be a late-morning optional trip available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every Saturday, there will be two round trips between Frederick to the benefit of all, including Mount students. Improved bus stops and updated signage are part of the new services. To learn more about Transit Services, visit, @TransITServicesFrederick on Facebook, and @TransitServices on Twitter.

Our sister city Lutsk in Ukraine is being hit with Russian missiles. Thank you, Cathy Bodine, Nathalie Raymond, and Dr. Bonnie Portier for the clothing collection for Ukraine. Take care and pray for our Ukrainian friends.

Hoping you have a wonderful Easter and its magnificent Sunday sunrise.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Spring is here, the flowers are blooming, there are buds on the trees, and many of us are experiencing stuffy noses due to the pollen in the air. While Mother Nature has gotten this done, the town crews have been working hard at getting the baseball and softball fields in good order. They have also been cleaning up the parks and reopening the restroom facilities. The next couple of months will bring several changes to our parks facilities. The East End Park will be getting a new pavilion next to the all-access playground, replacing the aging pavilion. The dog park will be getting dog-watering fountains to help keep your four-legged friends cool in the summer and well-hydrated while they play. The Community Park will be getting a new tennis court, nets, and fencing; this is to replace the existing court. I expect that the tennis court will be unavailable for at least a month while this work is being completed, so your patience will be appreciated as this work moves forward. The Community Park will also get a pedestrian bridge at the rear of the park over Hunting Creek. This bridge will allow easy access to the park for residents on West Main Street, and it will provide a connection to the Gateway Trail from within the Community Park. The Gateway Trail is a trail leading from Thurmont into the Catoctin Mountain National Park.

I am proud to say that the water main project on Old Pryor Road has now been completed. This project is providing much-needed improvements to the water service for residents on Old Pryor; it has also provided a loop through the Hillside subdivision that will improve service there as well. Thanks goes to Guyer Brothers for completing this project on time, with as little disruption as possible.

You may notice some work has started on improvements to Frederick Road. The contractor has begun refurbishing the stormwater basins on both sides of the road. This is the first part of a project that will see sidewalks repaired, the roadway milled and repaved, and traffic lines reapplied. This project will take several months to complete. Traffic will be reduced to a single lane, with flaggers directing the flow while the roadway is being repaired. These improvements will eliminate several sections of damaged sidewalks and result in a much smoother road for traffic. As always, once the road work begins, please drive slowly through the area and obey the traffic control devices and the flaggers. They are there to protect you and the workers.

There has been much talk recently about the forever chemicals in our drinking water. The EPA recently established 4ppt (Parts Per Trillion) as an acceptable level for drinking water. The Town of Thurmont has been working with our engineers and manufacturers to design filtration systems that will bring PFAS to an undetectable level. These filtration units will be installed at each of our water treatment facilities. The installation will require the construction of new buildings to house the units and the necessary plumbing to connect them to our system. I want to assure our residents that we are following the guidance of the MDE as we move forward with this effort and that we are investigating all funding sources available to get this project completed.


Burgess Heath Barnes

I am happy to report on some great developments at our March 14 meeting.  

Our planning and zoning committee presented to the council an updated drawing of the plans for our new town hall. The council unanimously approved the plans, and now I can happily report that they will be going to the county for the permit approvals. I am going to work as hard as I can to get it through the process quickly, because once those come back, we can break ground. This has been a long time coming, with the previous attempts to build on a smaller lot etc., but there is now light at the end of the tunnel. I have high hopes that we will be breaking ground by summer; once again, those are my hopes, not the set timeline.

We have a couple of things coming up in town and more details will follow. The community Easter Egg hunt, in partnership with the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department, will be April 1. The rain date will be April 8.

Reminder: Woodsboro has elections coming up on May 13. There will be two town commissioners up for election. To be eligible to run, you must be 18 years old and a resident residing in the town limits for a minimum of one year before the election. If you have an interest in running, please reach out to Mary in the town office. To be placed on the ballot, you will need to either attend the April 8 meeting and announce your intention to run or reach out to the town office prior to April 8 to appear on the ballot.

Just a reminder that there will be a public hearing at 7:00 p.m. on April 8 directly preceeding the monthly town council meeting. The two items up for discussion will be changing the town code to allow chickens, based on the parameters voted on in February, and to change the town’s grass height code from the current 18 inches to 8 inches.

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 [email protected] or call 301-845-0213.

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

Deb Abraham Spalding

On a sunny, 11-degree morning in early February, Warren Schafer was making snow at his house in Thurmont.

Schafer is a 15-year-old freshman at Catoctin High School. While society and social media lead us to believe that high school freshmen are sitting behind their cell phone apps and cell phone cameras or mesmerized behind their computers immersed in someone else’s imaginary world in video games, be assured, Schafer is, too!

The difference between the average freshman and Schafer—an avid skier and ham radio operator—is that he’s using some of that time to continually challenge himself to make a better snow-making gun than those currently used in the ski industry. 

Thus, Thurmont’s “Snow Man” has been revealed!

Two years ago, Schafer’s snow-making prototype was his science fair project in middle school. He won first place in the Frederick County Science Fair in the Environmental Sciences category. He has taken that prototype and improved upon it again and again. The original design was built with parts from the local hardware store, and now he’s custom building them out of aluminum.

It is his goal to ultimately design and create a more efficient snow-making nozzle, one that uses less air, less electricity, and less water to produce more snow in less time than the current industry standards. Oh, and he’s recycling, too!

When asked if he’s achieved his goal this year, Schafer simply stated, “Yes, I have!” It’s a continual process.

Schafer explained, “We can make (a wet) snow when it’s 33 degrees if the humidity is really low. Snowmakers combine temperature and relative humidity together to create what’s called a wet bulb. As long as the wet bulb temperature is below 28 degrees, we can make snow.” 

Schafer recycles water from the backyard pool. Rainwater catches on a tarp on the pool while a pump sits on the tarp and pumps the water into a big tank. A hose connects to the tank and feeds the water to the snowmaker that is powered by a small pressure washer.

At the time of our visit, Schafer had created a sled run with snow four to six inches deep at the bottom and two feet deep in the middle, and he had just started building the hill.

The two-foot base in the middle took about two hours to create with Schafer’s tiny snowmaker. A feat that is impressive even to the novice! Imagine, in the near future, being able to create a snow run in your own backyard using Schafer’s snow-making system that you can purchase at the local hardware store.

Schafer will continue to improve his design more and more to advance the system until he’s satisfied. At that point, he will make his system fully automated from controls at his computer. There may even be an app for that!

Warren Schafer is shown with his snow-making system. The swimming pool and collection tank are shown to the left, leading to the electric connection, power washer, hose, tripod, and snow-making gun.

Warren Schafer is shown adjusting his snow-making system in February.

Part I

Richard D. L. Fulton

January 1921 saw the commencement of the pursuit of an unidentified beast among the rolling foothills of Appalachia in Adams County, Pennsylvania, a quest that resulted in the local inhabitants doing more damage to themselves than the sought-after creature. It did not take long for the local newspapers to label the efforts to shoot or kill the strange creature as the “gorilla war.”

The story begins with the reported sighting of a “monstrous animal” near Mount Rock on January 20, 1921.

According to The Gettysburg Times, the creature was spotted whilst sitting upon a rock. “When the monstrous animal saw that it was discovered by some Mount Rock citizens, it arose, stretched itself and disappeared into a nearby wood.” The beast was described as a “large gorilla.” 

However, on January 21, The Gettysburg Times noted that, in fact, the creature had been reported as having been sighted “for days” leading up to the newspaper’s January 20 coverage of the bizarre episode.

The newspaper went on to report, “When told this story, one Gettysburg citizen said, ‘It is evident that some of my Mount Rock friends are seeing more peculiar visions now than they did before the advent of the Eighteenth Amendment.”

The Eighteenth Amendment, of course, was one of the federal government’s first significant attempts at social engineering through the alteration of the U.S. Constitution, in which the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages were outlawed in 1920. This was the period of time during which this controversial, and ultimately repealed (via the Twenty-first Amendment in 1933), legislation became not-so-affectionately known as “Prohibition.”

In spite of Prohibition, the sightings continued—the next time by residents in several northern Adams County municipalities.

The day after the newspaper reported the initial story about the sighting of the unknown animal, it appeared, as the publication garnered more information regarding the incident, that there might be more than just alcohol involved. “Thursday afternoon and evening,” The Gettysburg Times reported, “a general chase with the gorilla as the objective was conducted by the residents of Idaville and vicinity.”

The Gettysburg Times reported that the animal had been described as possibly being a gorilla or a kangaroo, adding that the beast “was first seen at Snyder’s Hill between York Springs and Idaville where a number of men failed in a combined attempt to capture or shoot it.”

By 10:00 p.m. on the night of January 20, “50 men gathered on Pike hill near Idaville and again vainly tried to kill the elusive creature,” which The Gettysburg Times reported, “escaped across the snow to Daniels’ Hill near the Adams-Cumberland County line.”

Theories as to how this alleged “gorilla” managed to find its way into Adams County began to be seriously considered. The newspaper reported, “The theory advanced for the animal is that it escaped from a circus train that wrecked several months ago.” 

But no record of any circus train wreck in Pennsylvania could be found in any 1921 newspapers published before January 20.

The Gettysburg Times did note that, thus far, the only damage reportedly inflicted by the unknown was the “robbery of a smokehouse.”

The Gettysburg Times reported on January 25 the first casualty suffered as a direct result of the growing panic over the wandering, but as of yet unidentified creature, suggesting the concern had now spread into adjacent York County as well. “Stories of a wandering gorilla caused the shooting of a mule when Abraham Lau, of Franklintown, York County, mistook the animal for the much talked of wild beast.”  According to The Gettysburg Times, when Lau spotted what he thought was the much sought-after and alleged gorilla, “He became alarmed and went to the house for the gun [and] shot and badly injured his neighbor’s mule.” It would not be the first local animal to die in the quest.

The Harrisburg Telegraph began carrying coverage of the mystery “gorilla” in Adams County as of the mule-shooting incident, but noted in the newspaper’s January 26 article that the “mule was not seriously injured by the shot.” 

On January 27, The Gettysburg Times reported that the “gorilla” had now been sighted near Waynesboro, in Franklin County. Regarding the multicounty hairy desperado, the newspaper reported, “Harry Shindledecker, an employee of the trolley company in Waynesboro, was on his way to work Wednesday morning [January 26]” and spotted the unidentified beast “while passing the baseball grounds.”  Shindledecker subsequently arrived at the Waynesboro trolley barn “in an excited condition,” and described the animal as having appeared to have been “about the height of a man.” 

The effort to end the alleged gorilla’s reign of imagined terror, now spanning three counties, heated up on January 26 when one local community launched what was described as an “armed posse” in pursuit of the creature in an effort to put an end to the affair once and for all.

Unfortunately, the only end that resulted from the effort was the life of one of the hunting dogs accompanying the impromptu posse.

The Gettysburg Times reported on January 28 that the “gorilla war” began on the night of January 26 when the beast was reportedly seen in an alley in Rouzerville, in Franklin County. “The word was quickly spread and the members of the Rouzervlle deer camp and every one [sic] else that had a rifle soon turned out,” the newspaper reported. “After the mobilization of marksmen was completed, the attackers in battle formation started up the mountain.”

The advance of the “skirmish line” had barely gotten underway when the creature, or at least what was believed to have been the creature, described now by The Gettysburg Times as a “chimpanzee,” was flushed out.   The newspaper reported, “Although a number of shots were fired, the chimpanzee kept on bounding toward the thicker brush of the slope.” 

The posse, as such, appears to have decided at this point in the attack to send for backup, which was hastily sent forward to bolster the assailants in the effort to capture or kill (most likely kill) the still essentially unidentified animal. The effects of the added firepower were audible in the nearby communities.

“The firing in the mountain was heard in the village and the town was soon in an uproar,” The Gettysburg Times wrote.  Some tactical genius among the combatants then decided “to form a great circle around the foothill where the animal was last seen,” the newspaper reported, adding, “Deployed in this fashion the grizzled hunters and young marksmen moved into the woodland.”   

In the process of searching the mountainside “halfway to Pen Mar” without any success at spotting the renegade creature, the hunt did result in yet another casualty. “A black dog running through the underbrush paid the death penalty when an excited hunter mistook it for an ape.”

To add insult to injury, not only had the mighty mountain warriors returned empty-handed, but when they gave up the pursuit and returned to Rouzerville, the creature had already beaten them there. “When the hunters returned from the mountains, the reports say the town was in a turmoil,” the newspaper reported, adding that, “… the animal had been seen there while the hunt was on.” 

The Gettysburg Times reported that the younger women in town who were out and about when the beast appeared were so terrified that escorts were provided to see that they got off the streets and to their respective homes safely until the “panic” had subsided. 

On January 27 or 28, the creature was again reported to have been seen near Monterey by two young men. “As they neared the Monterey golf links, they saw what they thought was a man approaching on all fours,” The Gettysburg Times reported, until the animal “rose on its hind legs and came toward them making gurgling sounds.”

Richard D. L. Fulton

Every year, an estimated 17,000 meteorites hit the Earth, according to researchers at the British University of Manchester and the London Imperial College, ranging in size from 1.75 pounds to 22 pounds, the larger ones being quite rare.

Just for the record, a space rock which has not fallen into the Earth’s atmosphere is termed as being a meteoroid. However, when the rock enters the atmosphere, it is then called a meteor (sometimes called a “shooting star”). Once it impacts upon the ground, the rock is then termed as being a meteorite.

There are basically three types of meteorites: (1) Iron meteorites (consisting primarily of iron and nickel and make up about 5.7 percent of the meteorites that strike the planet; (2) Stoney meteorites (which comprise about 92 percent of the meteorites that strike the planet); and (3) Stoney-iron meteorites (which comprise about 2 percent of the meteorites that strike the planet), according to

North Frederick County and southern Adams County, Pennsylvania, have each experienced a single confirmed strike, one confirmed and one unconfirmed hit in Emmitsburg, and one confirmed hit near Two Taverns in Adams County.

Of the three encounters of the meteoritic kind, little has been recorded regarding the Emmitsburg meteorite, with much more having been published regarding the Two Taverns meteorite (also referred to as the Mount Joy meteorite).  The Natural History Society of Maryland (NHSM) reported in its 1948 publication, The Maryland Naturalist, that “nothing at all seems to have been written of the finding of the Emmitsburg meteorite,” thus, the finder’s name has remained elusive.

The one confirmed Emmitsburg meteorite (classified as an iron meteorite) was discovered in 1854 and weighed in at just under one pound. 

Nothing seems to have been recorded regarding the circumstance under which it was found, nor when it fell, but the coordinates for where it was found, if accurate, were given as being 39 degrees 43 seconds north, and 77 degrees 18 seconds west, placing the discovery as having been found east of the current location of Mountain Liquors (geological discoveries were often referenced by the nearest town), according to Meteoritical Society records. In fact, Joseph Boesenberg, a former meteorite scientific assistant with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, previously told the reporter that the first published description was that written by a meteorite specialist, Aristides Brezina, in 1885. The next appearance of the meteorite was in the hands of meteorite dealer S.C.H. Bailey in the early 1900s.

Subsequently, the Emmitsburg meteorite fell into the hands of Dr. J.R. Clinton, of New York, and was soon after “thin sliced (cut into thin sections) and distributed to a number of institutions around the world, including in New York, Harvard, Washington, DC., Chicago, London, Vienna, and Gottingen, Germany).” But those only represent a portion of the meteorite. The remainder remains unaccounted-for.

A second, unconfirmed meteor fell into the Emmitsburg area around 1895 and landed in the yard of a home occupied by J.K. Hays and family. The family reported as having seen the meteor strike “about 100 yards from the house,” and Hays subsequently recovered the specimen, which he stated he kept in their basement. He described the meteorite as being oval-shaped and approximately eight inches by four inches. It was never shown to anyone with a museum or university, and some 40 years later, Hays said he could not find it, stating that he thinks his son “threw it out,” according to the NHSM.

Better known is the Two Taverns (Mount Joy) meteorite, probably because this meteorite, for decades after it was discovered, held the title of being the third largest meteorite that had been found in the United States, and the largest one that had been found east of the Mississippi.

The 847-pound  iron meteorite was discovered in 1887, according to the Harrisburg Telegraph, and it was later reported by The Gettysburg Times in 1925 that the meteorite had been found by Jacob Snyder, who was digging a hole for a fruit tree on his farm when he encountered “a stubborn hard stone,” The identification was subsequently confirmed at Gettysburg College, and subsequently sent to the Smithsonian Institute.

The Gettysburg Times reported in 1946 that, upon being found, the first use of a portion of the meteorite was forged into a cornhusker (which was subsequently lost). Specimens “sliced” from the rock made their way into various museums, including the Museum of Natural History in Vienna, Austria.

Not all of the Mount Joy meteorite made its way into museums.

The Gettysburg Times reported in 1925 that “several souvenirs were made from it by J.J. Epley… and several pieces are still in the hands of (a) Mr. Rudisill,” and that a “good sized piece” was still in the possession of Snyder, and later sold.  Those specimens, apparently, have yet to be accounted for.

James Rada, Jr.

Winged bee slowly flies to beekeeper collect nectar on private apiary from live flowers, apiary consisting of village beekeeper, floret dust on bee legs, beekeeper for bees on background large apiary

As the weather warms up, you might start to hear a buzzing as bees emerge from their hives to seek out pollen to create honey. They have spent the winter in their hives, clustered together, using their body heat to maintain warmth. With the outflow of bees, you might also notice people who look like they’re wearing radiation suits.

Dan Harbaugh of Emmitsburg maintains 35 beehives. He decided to learn about beekeeping after he retired because he wanted a new challenge. He took a class in Westminster offered by the Carroll County Beekeepers Association. He now sells his raw honey (meaning it is strained but not heat treated) at the Harbaugh Farm Greenhouse and Produce in Sabillasville.

Beekeepers will often sell additional products, such as beeswax, propolis, pollen, and even bees and hives.

Beekeeping has roots that go back to ancient Egypt. Workers keeping bees can be seen on the walls of ancient Egyptian temples. They knew what modern beekeepers know. Not only can bees be a source of honey and wax, but having them around improves the pollination of plants and flowers nearby.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Bee pollination is responsible for $15 billion in added crop value, particularly for specialty crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables. About one mouthful in three in the diet directly or indirectly benefits from honeybee pollination.”

“Honeybees are critical to our food chain, and I respect them deeply,” said Kelly Frye-Valerio of Emmitsburg.

While beekeeping is not expensive, there are set-up expenses beekeepers usually buy. These include hive supplies, an extractor, a smoker, and protective clothing. These add up to a few hundred dollars to get started, but it may be nearly all of your costs for years except for the cost of bottling the honey.

These initial costs are unlikely to be covered in the first year you have a hive because it takes time to get a healthy hive established. Once a bee hive is established, it doesn’t take much to care for them. Keep the hives in the sun and near a source of food. Once a week or so, beekeepers will check the hives to make sure there is enough room for the bees.

You don’t need a large area to keep a hive. Frye-Valerio lives in a subdivision.

“My husband and I are looking to transition in to more of a self-sustaining lifestyle,” she said. “Until we are able to find the right property, we are starting with what we can do right now on our quarter of an acre in a subdivision.”  They maintain four hives on their property.

Bees range for up to two miles in their search for pollen. They will collect pollen from whatever plants are in the area. The honey is usually identified by the plants the pollen is collected from, such as clover honey or orange blossom honey. Harbaugh calls the honey he collects wildflower honey because there are no identifiable flowers dominating the area where his bees collect their pollen to make honey.

The hives that beekeepers raise are actually boxes that are stacked on each other. The boxes are about 18 inches square and 6 inches high. Each box is open on the top and bottom to allow the bees to move from box to box. Within each box hangs a series of frames on which the bees can build their honeycombs. As the frames in one box fill up with comb and honey, additional boxes are stacked on top.

There are a few ways that beekeepers can start a hive.

They can buy bees and a queen and place them in a hive. They can capture a bee swarm, or as is often the case, they remove a hive from a house.

Beekeepers will also examine the bees in their hives for signs of disease on a regular basis. The big concern is the Varroa Mite, which needs to be kept under control to keep the hive healthy.

Beekeepers are also helping the world. Mites, parasites, and pesticides have reduced the bee population worldwide. They are needed, however, because they pollinate plants and allow things to grow. In the winter, bees weakened by a mite infestation may die, and if there aren’t enough bees to maintain the colony, it will collapse.

“The beekeeper needs to prepare, protect, or manipulate the hives to prevent these problems,” Harbaugh explained.

When the time comes to bottle honey, the frames from the hive are placed in an extractor, which is similar to a large centrifuge and spun. Honey is pulled out of the comb and falls to bottom of extractor, where it drains out a spigot into a bucket.

The result is a tasty treat that many people think has more flavor.

DID YOU KNOW? Here are 15 facts about bees you probably didn’t know.

        There are 20,000 bee species, worldwide.

        Bees are found on every continent except Antarctica.

        Honeybees have hairy eyes.

        Honeybees have five eyes: two large compound eyes with hexagonal facets and three   small simple eyes.

        The honeybee brain is sophisticated even though it is only the size of a grain of sugar.

        Some bee species, including honey bees, may have descended from wasps.

        All bees in a hive are aware of the presence of their queen bee. If she leaves, the entire colony knows within 15 minutes.

        Scent is very important to bees, and they are best at learning  new smells in the mornings.

        Bees cannot see the color red, but they can see the ultraviolet patterns in flowers, so they do visit red flowers.

Female bees can sting, but male bees cannot sting.

Bees have been trained as   bomb detectors and can detect hidden landmines.

Honeybees can be trained to detect illness in the human body.

Honeybees keep the inside temperature of their hives at    93° Fahrenheit.

Bees vibrate their bodies to create body heat to warm up the hive to 93°F if it is cold outside. Bees flap their wings like fans to create a breeze to cool the hive off to 93°F when it is hot outside.

Worker bees do the “waggle dance” to alert their hive sisters about where to find great new sources of water and nectar.

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

Pi Day is an annual celebration of pi (π) that takes place on March 14. It’s a relatively new holiday, recognized as a national holiday in 2009. This notorious math symbol represents the ratio of any circle to that same circle’s diameter, which is approximately 3.14–why Pi Day is on March 14! This number, however, has no known end, so it’s an irrational number that continues forever, randomly. In fact, last year, Google Cloud broke the record for calculating the most digits of pi with 100 trillion digits.

Pi, sometimes referred to as “the most important number of the universe,” can be observed in all things involving curvature, rotation, or even matters with no obvious pattern. It’s a number that elegantly links the natural world together, regulating what seems to be beyond our control. For instance, it’s a number indispensable in engineering, since it deals closely with arcs, pillars, and other structures associated with diameter and circumference. Those who work in computer science may test the efficiency of a program by seeing how quickly it can calculate the endless number sequence of pi. Scientists working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) utilize this number to calculate the distance between stars via spherical trigonometry. The perimeter of The Great Pyramid of Giza—constructed about 4,500 years ago—divided by its height equates to 2π. That is only scratching the surface of the wonders of pi, and how a mysterious number could be behind so many of life’s processes.

While pi is relevant to a plethora of topics, you probably learned about it in your mathematics class. Math is the logical science of relative quantity, order, change, and relationships, which are all amalgamated to efficiently track, answer, and rationalize questions. Math’s reputation is often tarnished with labels such as “boring,” “tedious,” or “irrelevant,” but it deals directly with how different components of life—including you and me—interact with each other, so it’s far from irrelevant. However, “boring” and “tedious” are sometimes true—only sometimes, though. It’s also not as disliked as some may think; according to Gallup, 23 percent of teenagers in the United States name math as their favorite class in school, followed by science and social studies.

Math is dull for some, but for others, it’s a thrill to make sense of the world, so much so, that they make a career out of their love for this subject. In class, my teachers teach cheerfully and passionately, and I wanted to see how they—teachers of all subjects—personally view the beauty behind what they teach every day.

A common theme amongst the math teachers was that math satiated their mental hunger, similar to puzzles and riddles. “I love math because it is like a puzzle. I love all sorts of puzzles and, to me, math is just another type of puzzle to figure out,” my past math teacher explained.

“The cool feeling that comes when you get a solution that makes sense is a great [one].” Another teacher expounded upon the puzzle analogy, stating how “Sometimes, it’s very clear which pieces fit together and what your next step or steps may be. Other times, everything can be scattered, and it takes a lot of experimenting to figure out which pieces go where and how they all fit together. I love the feeling of solving something extremely complicated.”

Comparably, the quest for understanding holds true with teachers of all specializations. “As a life-long seeker of knowledge, I am very interested in English and math, but my love of reading from an early age has always made English more appealing to me, overall, than math,” my English professor responded. He had a very unique take on his aforementioned appreciation for math. “However, I have always loved music, and I notice and respect the mathematical foundation of music, which is very interesting and relevant. For example, the classic Pink Floyd song ‘Mother’ features a compelling, complex, interesting blend of time signatures, and this presented a challenge for the regular Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason, who ceded his percussion duties to session drummer Nick Porcaro. I am also very interested in numbers and statistics, as they relate to sports and literature; for example, the numerical precision of iambic pentameter. But English always wins, for me, compared to math, probably due to the power of stories that is inherent in English and history.”

The power hidden between the lines of literary works was echoed by another past teacher of mine, who replied, “I can learn something new every time I re-read a novel or have a discussion with students about a character, scene, etc. My perspective always changes, and I learn new things about the novel and myself.”

Interestingly, the science teachers I questioned both mentioned math in their answers–which makes sense, since “Science boils down to math applied to solve problems, model processes, or provide evidence,” as my biology teacher defined it. “I think one of the most important questions a teacher needs to be able to answer is ‘Why am I learning this?’ One of the big problems for students learning math, especially anything after algebra I or geometry, is that the material is too far removed from its application. Math seems too abstract to be of much use… If a student doesn’t pay attention in statistics or calculus, then biology, chemistry, and physics will never bloom into their full beauty.”

Similarly, my environmental science teacher described math and science as going “hand in hand.” She went on to say, “I love science. However, to me, science is something we can experience hands-on in our everyday lives, from what we eat to just walking outside. Science is in everything we do!” This may be combated by another math teacher, who explained, “Mathematics is used in some way in every person’s daily life. It may not be as explicit as solving equations or creating graphs, but mathematical modeling is a process that is used every day by everyone. Such data and observations provide statistics we can use to improve our community, well-being, and overall lives.”

An interesting question to ponder is whether math is invented or discovered. Some argue that math is, like any set of rules, manmade, and therefore invented. Others, on the other hand, claim that mathematics exists independently of humans and would have existed with or without us, making it a discovery and not something we created ourselves. What do you think? Philosophical questions like these may be difficult to answer, but they are excellent food for thought. Speaking of food, I think my pie is almost finished… (Not pi, because pi, an infinite number, is never finished!)


 Mayor John Kinnaird

With the last two weeks of February surprising us with amazing weather, I think we are all looking forward to the warmth of the spring and summer months.

Now is the time to plan to attend many of our amazing events in the coming year. Here is a listing of some of the events we have planned for this summer: 2023 Concerts in the Park at Memorial Park, Green Fest, Restaurant Week, Thurmont Business Showcase, Thurmont Farmers Market, Art and Wine Strolls, Plein Air, Colorfest, Gateway to the Cure, and Christmas in Thurmont.

Information on these and many other events are available at

Questions, comments, or suggestions? I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or [email protected].


Mayor Don Briggs

So many good things happened in February. One good thing is the town has been approved, for the tenth year, with Community Legacy Grant (CLG) funds for facade improvements of properties located in the historic area. This began when the state approved Emmitsburg as a Sustainable Community during my first year in office. A gauntlet lies ahead for property owners who choose to apply, including the Maryland Historic Trust approval. From humble beginnings, more formalized protocols have developed. Currently, after advertising the availability of funds, a committee of residents with both technical construction knowledge and community service resumes beyond reproach review the applications. All members of the committee have been approved by commissioners over the years for services to the community and some on more than one occasion. To date $455,000 in 50/50 grants have been dispersed, resulting in $988,000 in improvements. Thank you to the committee members for setting aside the time for this commitment.

Another good thing, on the first Friday of February, Conrad Weaver, my grandson Tyler Myles, and I attended the 17th Annual Ukrainian National Prayer Breakfast, held at Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. This is an event I have looked forward to attending after two Zoom meetings with Mayor Ihor Poishchuk of Emmitsburg’s Ukrainian Sister City Lutsk. We joined well over 300 people for a breakfast that featured a Ukrainian chorale in traditional dress; other recognized Ukrainian singers; Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant clergy, and Evangelicals. Also in attendance were three U. S. ambassadors, as many as six congressmen, one governor, and at least one mayor. More than 10 countries were represented, including Israel. To me, the most special attendees I had the opportunity to meet included Veteran soldiers, some bearing noticeably serious injuries from the ongoing defense against the invasion by Russia, and 10 children who lost their fathers in the war. They were touring the U.S. as part of a healing process program sponsored by a Ukrainian-American group, UKRHELP Foundation, based in Bellevue, Washington; Yurii Bezpiatko, member of our Sister City Lutsk City Council; and Ukrainian Ambassador to U.S., Oksana Serhiyivna Markarova. The ambassador may visit us in Emmitsburg.

The town council discussion on water rates was postponed until the March 13 town meeting. This will be the fifth time over the last year this topic has come before the council. There have been hours of discussions that included selecting a consultant to study water rates and reviewing the consultants’ findings. A lot of information is floating about, but the facts are that water rates were not raised during the last 12 years because the council approved raising sewer rates significantly twice during that time to accommodate the new $19.5-million sewer plant the town was required to build by the state. To note, if the commissioners come to an agreement on an increase in the water rate, only the water rate will increase, not the combination of water and sewer rate.

Another President’s Day has come and gone. Not much recognition attached to it any more it seems, just a day off as a part of a three-day weekend. The roots of the holiday are worth remembering. President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is on February 12, and President George Washington’s birthday is on February 22. These two were amazing people who rose from very humble beginnings to be presidents. Their lives are worth learning more about and not forgetting.

Ash Wednesday fell on February 22 and marked the beginning of a 40-day Lenten period that leads up to Easter, which falls on April 9 this year. It’s a good time to do things for those in our community who are more in need, starting with, perhaps, being more respectful.

Take care and enjoy the off-and-on days of sun and warmth as we get ready for all the many spring youth events.


Greetings to all! Our February 14 meeting was a busy, productive meeting.

The town commissioners and I went through the recommendations on an ordinance to allow chickens in town. Chickens are currently not permitted in town per the town code that was implemented in 1972. After several deliberations and changes, the vote was 3-1 to allow chickens in town. Yards less than one acre in size will be allowed up to five hens, and lots larger than an acre in size will be allowed up to 12 hens. No roosters will be allowed. This is the tentative approval. As per code, we are required to have a public hearing before amending the code. The public hearing meeting is scheduled for April 11 before our regular town meeting. At that point in time, unless the commissioners change their votes, the code change will be solidified, and all of the requirements will be codified. We will also be adding an additional code change proposal at the meeting, concerning residents’ grass height. The current code states grass can be 18 inches high. We will be proposing a change to a 9- or 12-inch height maximum.

Our planning and zoning committee sent the drawings back to the engineer for the site plan for our town hall building at their February meeting due to it not having enough green space up front to fit a sign and flagpoles. The engineer will have the revised plan back to P&Z for their March 6 meeting. If they approve it, then it will come to the town council at the March 14 meeting. If the commissioners approve the site plan, the next step is that it will be sent to the county for the permitting process to begin.

A reminder: Woodsboro has elections coming up on May 13. There will be two town commissioner seats up for election. To be eligible to run, you must be at least 18 years old and a resident within the town limits for a minimum of one year before the election. If you have an interest in running, please reach out to Mary in the town office.

We have started projects for grants that we have been approved for. Our three new flag poles have been installed at the Veterans Memorial where we will now be able to fly our American, Maryland, and Woodsboro flags all simultaneously on their own poles. In addition, construction will begin soon on the approved pavilion to be built in the upper side of the park by the disc golf course. I have also started the process of getting electricity run to the upper side of the park and will be working on getting the bathroom built up there as well. We were approved for a $214,000 grant for these projects so we will be beginning them soon. My goal is to have the electricity run before Woodsboro Days in October. In addition, we submitted a grant request to remodel the concession stand and upgrade the bathroom as well. We will have the answers for that when the governor’s FYI 2024 budget is approved.

 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 [email protected], or call 301-845-0213.

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

Woodsboro Town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. In addition, Planning and Zoning meetings are at 6 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. Johns United Church of Christ located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.