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Maryland’s Ancient Dogs

Richard D. L. Fulton

Long before humans traversed the plains and forests of Maryland, and millions of years before the Chesapeake Bay even existed, there were the “Bone Crushers.”

This Maryland version of The Land That Time Forgot occurred some 12 to 20 million years ago, when the Atlantic Ocean had made a major incursion into Maryland in the form of a large bay (referred to as the Salisbury Embayment). The shoreline of this bay, which stretched from west of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, rejoined the main oceanic shoreline in the Philadelphia area.

This was during a period of time referred to as the Miocene Epoch, when the Maryland waters were patrolled by 50- to 60-foot sharks in search of whatever they needed to kill in order to sustain their growth and size.

But “Bone Crusher” was not a shark. It was a dog (in fact two different species of dog), that were members of a group scientifically known as Borophaginae, which literally translates from Latin to “gluttonous eater.” Specifically, the two species of bone crushers that have been recovered from the Chesapeake Bay fossil deposits have been tentatively named Cynarctus marylandica and Cynarctus wangi.

In Maryland, only a few teeth of the Cynarctus have been recovered from the escarpments along the western shores of the Chesapeake, known as the Calvert Cliffs. While these cliffs are primarily clay, marl, and sand beds deposited in the oceanic Salisbury Embayment, occasionally, the remains of land animals are found whose teeth and bones had been washed into the ocean via rivers and streams in which proximity the animals had lived and died.

The Borophaginae, Cynarctus included, received the nickname “bone crusher” because the teeth of the animals were clearly adept at smashing the bones of their no-doubt sometimes sizeable prey—whether live-killed or scavenged—to smithereens, presumably to gain access to the marrow. Modern hyenas have similar teeth for crushing bones.

It has been generally held that climate change (during which period of time the climate was becoming more arid) taking place during the Early Miocene Epoch resulted in the reduction of lush vegetation, which in turn, resulted in the expansion of grasslands. 

Because this change in habitats likely impacted the proliferation of plant-eating prey of the carnivores, the “fine art” of bone crushing evolved to allow these carnivores to extract more nutrients from each kill than that faced by carnivores of lusher times. Modern-day hyenas, who developed similar teeth, also live in an arid climate.

“In this respect, they are believed to have behaved in a similar way to hyenas today,” according to the primary author of a research paper discussing one of the new Cynarctus species, Steven E. Jasinski. Jasinski is a paleontologist and zoologist, employed by the Department of Environmental Science and Sustainability at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

Maryland’s bone-crushing Cynarctus were not big dogs, having apparently been about the size of a coyote. Also, researchers believe that Cynarctus may not have depended entirely on meat and bone-crushing for their diet, but may have also added insects and even plants to their diet, according to  published a synopsis of the research paper, describing Cynarctus on their website, noting “Despite its strong jaws, the researchers believe C. wangi wouldn’t have been wholly reliant on meat to sustain itself.”

Some other attributes had been deduced from crushed bones and coprolites (excretion) found at fossil sites outside of Maryland, bearing traces of the Borophaginae. It may have been possible that Cynarctus was a social pack hunter (like modern-day wolves), and that bone-crushing served as a social activity for the pack.

In addition, coprolite pile clusters have been found in areas inhabited by Borophaginae, which would suggest they were left as territory markers, also according to a research paper published by multiple researchers, including Xiaoming Wang.

Cynarctus existed for about 5.7 million years, becoming extinct by the end of the Late-Miocene or the early stages of the period of time that followed.

Painting: An artist rendition of a member of the Borophaginae. Painted by Charles R. Knight, 1902, Public Domain.

Illustration of a Cynarctus Skull

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Richard D. L. Fulton

Residents of the Emmitsburg area were probably not shocked at reading the news regarding the great blizzard of March 1-2, 1914, that “Emmitsburg was in the midst of the severest portion of the storm…”

But, in fact, the destruction was ultimately countywide, so much so, that the March 3 The (Frederick) News reported that only the Walkersville, Libertytown, Woodsboro, and Ladiesburg had sustained “very limited damage to speak of.”

The News reported on March 2, “Frederick and the county were visited by one of the worst storms last night and today in the history of this section,” adding, “fierce northwest winds up to 60 miles per hour were prevalent throughout the night and into the following morning, noting that the wind howled with a fierceness which was probably never known before in this part of the county.”

Temperatures were reported to have reached a high of 23 degrees during the day and attained a low of 11 degrees at night, not including wind chill factors.

The blizzard virtually impacted the greater upper Mid-Atlantic. The News stated in their March 3 edition that 15 lives were lost in New York, and five lives were lost in Philadelphia due to the snow and wind, and that the railroads were “badly crippled.”

In Frederick County, authorities began to assess the damage after the storm subsided post-morning on March 2. The News reported on March 3 that the degree of damage estimated to have occurred on the day of the storm “exceeds any estimate that was yesterday given.”

Emmitsburg, the newspaper reported, “was cut off from telephone communications with Frederick” during much of the height of the storm, noting that “houses were unroofed and four or five barns were blown down.”

Additionally, the roof of the Emmitsburg High School was blown off and a gable was “blown in,” the newspaper noted, adding that plastering had been badly cracked and that “it is felt the walls have been rendered unsafe.”

Other area educational institutions damaged were the Cattail Branch Run School, which had a gable driven-in and the roof torn off, and the school house at Brenman’s was nearly a “total loss.”

Two hotels were damaged in Emmitsburg, including the Hotel Spangler and the Hotel Hinddinger, mostly in the form of windows having been blown in. In addition to widespread chimney damage and the loss of portions of slate roofs in town, the roof was also torn off the Emmitsburg Broom Factory, according to The News.

In Thurmont, a portion of the roof of the United Brethren Church was lost, and the end of the high school was blown in, according to the March 3 edition of The Baltimore Sun, which further noted that when the school’s wall was blown in, the bricks “crashed through the floors to the basement, demolishing desks and twisting part of the structure…”

The Baltimore Sun also reported that the Thurmont Town Hall and (a grain?) elevator were damaged, as well as various other structures and out-buildings, and that a barn was also destroyed, killing a number of the livestock.

Countywide, some 100 barns were destroyed in the blizzard, along with the deaths of dozens of livestock. In total, more than 136 structures were damaged, according to the March 4 issue of The News, amounting to an estimated $200,000 in damages. The newspaper reported there were some impacted communities that had not as yet reported their losses.

Amazingly, there were few deaths, some estimates ranging from one to three.

No figures were published in the newspapers regarding the depth of the snowfall, but the average received by the Upper Mid-Atlantic was two feet or more of snow.

Most of the damage appeared to have been caused by the persistent high-wind velocities.

The old Emmitsburg hotel, known as the Spangler Hotel in 1914, weathered out the
blizzard, sustaining damage mainly to the windows.

Hoffman’s Market Closes

Deb Abraham Spalding

Should auld acquaintences be forgot? We don’t think so!

Hoffman’s Market has closed and its building has been sold, but local children of all ages in Thurmont remember stopping at the market across from Thurmont Middle School and purchasing subs, sodas, and penny candy. These memories will not be forgotten.

“We’ve seen a lot of kids grow up,” Michelle Hoffman said. She added, “Little kids who used to come in from the elementary and middle school now come in with their own kids.” The Hoffmans themselves have had four generations of Hoffmans grow up in the store. The youngest is now three years old.

“It’s bitter sweet,” Sharon Hoffman said when she closed the door to customers at 5:00 p.m.on December 12, 2023, after almost 37 years in business.

She and her late husband Reno opened Hoffman’s Market at 405 East Main Street in 1987. The market was known for scrumptious deli sandwiches. “We make them fresh every morning. We pick good meats and my daughter, Michelle, makes them,” Reno Hoffman explained to The Catoctin Banner in 2009.

Recently, Thurmont’s mayor John Kinnaird shared, “Other than a short time as a hair dresser shop this has been a community general merchandise store. I remember first going there with my parents when we moved to Apples Church Road in 1961. Generations of kids have stopped here after school at what was known as the East End Grocery to grab some penny candy, an ice cream bar, or some soda pop. Charlie Hobbs ran the store for many years and I also remember Pinky Ambrose having it for a time. Everyone probably remembers when it was known as the ‘Purple Store.’ Lots of memories for sure!”

The Hoffmans sold the building at auction in November and on December 12, they held a customer appreciation day for customers to stop in for a sandwich, a piece of cake, and to talk about old times. Then they prepared the sale of the store’s inside contents at an auction the upcoming Saturday.

When asked if they felt Reno would approve of the sale and closing of the store, Sharon said, “The last thing he told me was, ‘Sell that damn store!’” If you knew Reno, that’s just the way he would say it. He was ornery and loved by many. The market was for sale several times before Reno passed.

In the store, it felt as if Reno’s spirit was still around. Michelle said, “We heard him yesterday several times. He was making his presence known!”

The Hoffmans hold their customers and community in high regard. Sharon said, “Thank you for all the wonderful years of kindness, patronage, and friendship. We’ve made a lot of friends that we consider family.”

Note: The Hoffmans have been long time supporters of The Catoctin Banner.  The market served as a distribution point where readers could pick up a copy of our latest edition. We are grateful.

Michelle Hoffman (left) is shown with her daughter Nicole Wentz, and her mother Sharon Hoffman on December 14, 2023 preparing the market’s contents for public auction Saturday, December 16, 2023.

Photo by Deb Abraham Spalding

December 12, 2023, was Customer appreciation Day at Hoffman’s. Pictured left to right are Karen Kinnaird, John Kinnaird, Sharon Hoffman, Michelle Hoffman, Kinsley Wentz, Bradley Wentz, and Nicole Wentz.

Courtesy John Kinnaird

Customers miss Reno Hoffman. He was ornery but sweet with a tell-ya-like-it-is manner. Here he is pictured in an August 2009 Catoctin Banner photo. He passed away October 19, 2021. He and Sharon were married for 56 years and purchased the former Anna’s Market building in 1987.

Photo by Carie Stafford

The Hoffmans handed out 2024 calendar keepsakes to visitors.

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

There are a few commonplace practices during this time of year—or should I say, “new year?” We’re all familiar with New Year’s resolutions, but there are far more traditions to this rousing new beginning. After all, it only comes once every 365 days!

Beyond watching the Times Square Ball Drop and buying plane tickets to visit family, there are traditional New Year’s meals, too, including lentils, cornbread, and noodles—something I didn’t know until recently. Lentils symbolize good luck and abundance, for they expand greatly in size when cooked. Cornbread? Well, it’s gold in color, which equates to prosperity. The meanings behind these foods are more straightforward than you might think. Can you guess why noodles are consumed for New Year’s? It’s because the noodles are long, which represents living a long, fruitful life.

There are several amusing New Year’s superstitions as well, from opening doors and windows to avoiding chicken and lobster. Cracking windows and doors open supposedly releases the aura of misfortune and welcomes the new year. Why skip the chicken and lobster? Chickens have wings, and you don’t want your good luck flying away! (Even though chickens can’t really fly…) Comparably, lobsters move backward, giving rise to the superstition that eating them will cause you to also move backward in your progress. Hitting the ground running doesn’t help if you’re running in the wrong direction!

What would you do if you woke up to a pile of broken glass at your doorstep? You wouldn’t cheer with delight, I’m sure. In Denmark, the larger the pile of shattered dishes, the more luck it represents. Neighbors and friends throw kitchenware at each others’ doors, hoping to bring their loved ones the best upcoming year. Evidently, some traditions are region-specific—I don’t think this tradition would translate well where I live.

Is broken glass more concerning, or is an onion dangling from your front door worse? In Greece, it’s tradition to hang an onion outside your door for New Year’s, because it allegedly brings fertility and growth. The context behind this is how onions can reproduce asexually through bulbs.

How cute are we to create these endearing folklores for ourselves to celebrate special occasions!

There are countless traditions for New Year’s, alone. One can only wonder how many things are done simply because it’s tradition. When pondering this, I usually think about eating mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and decorating evergreen conifers for Christmas. However, could some traditions ever be harmful to society?

If you’ve read the classic short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, then the answer is clear: Yes, it’s possible for tradition to be detrimental. A classmate put it well: “[Some] traditions are the epitome of peer pressure. We do things because we see other people doing them, so we [subsequently] feel the need to do them too. If we always blindly follow what other people are doing, then we might fail to recognize when something is corrupt.”

Takeaway: Unlike what the title of this article suggests, it’s important to constantly question yourself.

Why do we have traditions in the first place? Is there a point? Although tradition has the potential to be damaging, to many, it’s closely linked to their identity. “[We have tradition because it’s] the preservation of culture,” my friend explained. “Also, it [gives us a sense of] purpose.” Indeed, what better reflection of an individual than their actions?

To some, tradition serves as motivation. “I think tradition is what keeps a group of people going forward [and shows] how far they have come,” another student shared. This is a perspective I hadn’t considered before; rather than focusing solely on the practices themselves, we can utilize traditions as milestones, especially taking into account how most traditions are exercised at particular times of the year.

Furthermore, tradition can serve as a relieving break amid something as spontaneous and, oftentimes, isolating as life. As my friend elaborated, “[The point of tradition is] to get family together and to spend time together. I feel like it is one thing that doesn’t change, you know? It is one thing that will always happen and that family will always do together.” With doings such as family dinners, exchanging presents, and celebrating relationships of all kinds, traditions undoubtedly illuminate the beauty of interpersonal connection. On that lovely note, are you planning anything to celebrate New Year’s? Perhaps reading this newspaper can become a tradition for you—not just for January, but for every month of the year! (We would certainly appreciate it!) We assure you that, unlike frantically cleaning your house and opening your windows every day, this tradition will not feel like a chore

by James Rada, Jr.


Town Moves to Twice-a-Month Meetings at Least Temporarily

The Thurmont town meetings will switch from weekly to twice a month for the next three months. At that point, the mayor and commissioners will evaluate the impact of the change and decide if it should continue.

For January, the meetings will be on the second and fourth Tuesdays. In February and March, the meetings will be on the first and third Tuesdays.

The goal is to have meetings where a lot of work for the town can be accomplished without creating undue meetings that town staff and others need to attend. However, additional meetings can be held if needed. The town charter only requires that the commissioners meet monthly.

The town may also survey residents to see if they have a preference to how many meetings the town holds.

New Leadership at the Thurmont Police Department

With the retirement of Police Chief Greg Eyler from the Thurmont Police at the beginning of December, new officers were needed to lead the department. At two separate town meetings, Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird swore in new Chief Dave Armstrong and Dep. Chief Jerry Morales.

Town Receives a Clean Audit

Mike Samson and Alison Burke with Zlenkofske Axelrod, LLC, presented the results of the annual independent audit of Thurmont’s financial statements for Fiscal Year 2023. Samson told the mayor and commissioners that Zlenkofske Axelrod, LLC, gave the town an unmodified or clean opinion, which is the highest rating that can be given. The auditors had no difficulties performing the audit or had any disagreements with the management.

Town Considering Reopening Facebook Page To Comments

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners are considering how to best interact with the public via social media. The mayor and commissioners had made the town’s Facebook page information-only and closed to comments when too many inappropriate comments and personal attacks were left in the comments.

Commissioner Marty Burns brought the topic up with the board again, wanting the comments turned back on. “I stood before the mayor and board before. I think constituents have a right to freedom of speech, even speech I find reprehensible,” Burns said.

The board was split on the matter, with both those against and for reopening the page to comments seeing the advantages and disadvantages.

Mayor John Kinnaird suggested leaving the town page information-only and creating Facebook pages for the commissioners that would be open to comments. The difference is the latter does not reflect poorly on the town if inappropriate comments are made, but it would create more work for town staff to monitor the new pages.

Commissioner Bob Lookingbill suggested sending a survey to residents to get their thoughts on the matter before making a decision. 

Town Celebrates 10 Years of Gateway to the Cure

Economic Development Manager Vickie Grinder recently told the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners about the town’s 10th Annual Gateway to the Cure efforts. The town has been raising funds in October for the Patty Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund. Events include a 5K race, golf competition, Zumbathon, offering parking at Colorfest, and selling pink light bulbs.

The first Gateway to the Cure in 2014 raised $3,000 for the fund. This year’s donation was $24,500, bringing the town’s 10-year total to $163,500. The money stays within Frederick County and goes toward direct patient care.

Woodland Ave. and Water St. Paving Project Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved $88,133 from its Highway User Revenues to have Woodland Avenue and Water Street repaved and widened in areas. This is a joint project with the developer of Hammaker Hills. It is being done with a change order to work that C.J. Miller is already doing in town. Because the company is already working, it will save time and money for the town. The entire project costs $147,547 and is expected to be completed before winter sets in.

Colorfest Made Nearly $20,000 in Donations to the Town in 2023

Catoctin Colorfest President Carol Robertson made a presentation to the Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners, announcing that besides the benefit town organizations get from selling or offering services during Colorfest weekend, Catoctin Colorfest, Inc. made $19,780 in contributions to organizations this year.

The contributions included: $2,500 to the Thurmont Ambulance Company; $5,000 to the Town of Thurmont for a new PA system in Community Park; $6,500 in scholarships; $150 so the Thurmont Food Bank volunteers could enjoy a dinner; $5,000 in $25 local gift cards for the food bank to distribute; $275 to the Thurmont Food Bank; $70 for 3,000 bags to be used at the Thurmont Food Bank; an FFA donation; and a Christmas in Thurmont donation.

“It’s amazing how the municipality as a whole benefits from Catoctin Colorfest, Inc.,” Mayor John Kinnaird said.


Town In Danger Of Losing Parking Meter Grant

The Town of Emmitsburg may lose $31,100 in grant funding to replace the parking meters in town if the commissioners cannot reach a consensus about what needs to done and when. The project would replace 125 coin-only parking meters in town and possibly add 20 new metered spots with new smart meters with coin and card payment options. The replacement is needed because the person who currently repairs the meters is retiring and replacement parts for them are no longer available. In addition, it was discovered that the current meters may be up to 15 minutes off in either direction.

The town obtained a USDA Community Facility Grant for up to $31,100. The grant requires a town match to make up the difference of roughly $30,000 when the total cost of the project is calculated.

The commissioners began disagreeing over whether the monthly charge for the new meters was worth it, whether the income will cover the salary of the staff member who handles parking enforcement, whether the income would help the commissioners purchase property for a town parking lot, and if 20 new meters along West Main Street should be installed.

Commissioner Cliff Sweeney tried to break the log jam by making a motion to accept town staff’s recommendation. The motion failed 3-2.

Because no decision was made to move forward, the town is in danger of losing the grant because of a USDA deadline that requires the grant to be spent by a certain date. However, the commissioners tabled the decision, and town staff is seeking to see if the deadline can be extended to relieve some of the pressure.

Expect Stricter Enforcement Along West Main Street

During the Emmitsburg Commissioners’ discussion about approving the new parking meter bid, one bone of contention was whether 20 new meters should be installed along West Main Street where there are currently none.

Arguments for and against were made. It was said the meters would help businesses along Main Street. Others said it would penalize residents of West Main Street or equalize the treatment of residents along West and East Main.

At one point, Commissioner Valerie Turnquist argued that the meters weren’t needed because the town code already prohibited parking at unmetered spots along the street for more than two hours, and she read from the code. This seemed to come as a surprise to some of the commissioners, and town staff admitted that it wasn’t being enforced because it had been misinterpreted.

However, because Turnquist had pointed out the law, town staff said they would need to start enforcing it because it is in the code. This means cars parked in unmetered spots along Main Street can remain in the spots for up to two hours. Otherwise, they can be ticketed at any time 24/7.

Town staff will post the parking limitation with signage on the street and let residents know through other means.

It was also discussed that perhaps the parking ordinance is outdated and needs to be reviewed. If the commissioners go this route, it could still take months to go through the legislative process before changes are made.

New Grant

The Town of Emmitsburg recently received a Department of Housing and Community Development Assistance Grant – Main Street Improvement Grant for $10,000. The money will be used to purchase and install four directional wayfinding signs for downtown. Once state representatives sign the agreement, the project can begin.

Appointments Made

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners made the following appointments during its December town meeting:

Shannon Cool to the Parks Committee, with a term of December 5, 2023, to December 5, 2025.

Sandy Umbel to the Parks Committee, with a term of December 5, 2023, to December 5, 2025.

Steve Starliper to the Parks Committee, with a term of December 5, 2023, to December 5, 2025.

Amanda Ryder to the Parks Committee, with a term of December 5, 2023, to December 5, 2025.

Dale Sharrer to the Planning Commission as an alternate, with a term of December 5, 2023, to December 5, 2028.


Mayor Frank Davis

It is hard to believe the holiday season has passed by so quickly, and for the next month, I will still be dating documents 2023. With another year behind us, I hope we can all look back on our accomplishments and find the good in last year.

Things are changing in the town office. The biggest change is the hiring of two new employees. Joshua Snyder is our newest addition to our water and sewer department. Josh comes to us with over 10 years of experience in this field and will be a terrific addition to our talented crew. We would also like to welcome Kimberly Mondshour to our office staff. Kimberly has accepted a position as our accountant and brings a wealth of experience to this vital position. Please help welcome both of our new employees to Emmitsburg.

Construction is well underway for our new Sewer Lift Station on Creamery Road. This project is being tackled by Conewago Construction Company. Please be cautious while traveling around the construction site.

At times, the winter months can keep you searching for things to do with your family, so don’t forget about Mount Basketball. Both the women’s and men’s teams are playing at an extremely high level and are exciting to watch.

The town is exploring options pertaining to parking issues and meter upgrades. Conversations are running high, and there are many opinions, both positive and negative, regarding future needs. I can assure you, that the commissioners are listening, exploring options, and will decide what is best for our town—not only for now but also in the future.

There are two workshops scheduled for the town council in January and February. On January 22, we will review and discuss the financial status of the town. The February 12 workshop will be the start of identifying future projects and setting priorities. Citizens are invited to attend in person or watch on Channel 99.

Please remember that all streets in the town limits are now snow emergency routes. This means that when the snow emergency plan is enacted by the Maryland State Police, parking is prohibited on ALL streets. This will enable road crews to plow and open roads more quickly, efficiently, and most importantly, it will ensure access for emergency vehicles into your neighborhood. All town parking lots are available for off-street parking. Additional parking is also available in the 100 block of South Seton Avenue, next to Chronicle Press. If anyone has transportation issues with getting their vehicle to one of these locations, please contact the town office BEFORE the snow begins. Please be responsible and pre-plan for severe weather.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. We are open to suggestions to make Emmitsburg a great place to live.

Please feel free to contact me at, and I will do my best to respond within the same business day.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Welcome to the New Year! Karen and I hope that everyone has an amazing, healthy and happy year ahead. We are looking forward to another great year!

The new year brings with it the continuation of water and wastewater infrastructure replacement on North Church Street from Boundary Avenue to Catoctin High School. This project will upgrade all water, wastewater, and service lines on the entire stretch of road. Work started at the intersection of Sandy Spring Land and headed toward Catoctin High School. In the coming weeks and months workers will be addressing the other end of the project area. This effort will resolve many issues along the road caused by additions to the system and multiple upgrades.

Residents will also see wastewater line work to Rte. 77 from Old Pryor Road to Park Central Road beginning on Jan. 4th. This project is being completed by the State of Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Environmental Services. I’m The work will improve the wastewater lines first installed between Thurmont and the State Park back in the late 1960s into the early 1970s. There will be well marked detours set up during this project that will use Rte. 550 and Foxville Deerfield Road. Work should be completed by the end of May.

On a personal note, Karen and I will be travelling to Great Britain for a couple of weeks. We plan on visiting friends and family in London, and the city of my birth, Aberdeen, Scotland. The first part of our trip will see us visiting London, Lands End at the Southwest coast before heading north to John O’Groats at the northern most point on the British Isle. In between we will drive through Wales, visit Yorkshire, stop at the historic Auld Alloway Kirk made famous in Robert Burns’ Tam O’Shanter. We will be spending a couple of nights with friends on the Isle of Skye, a night in the wonderful North Seaside village of Pennan and then a few days in Aberdeen with cousins. Hopefully while in the Highlands we will get to see the Northern Lights! We will then return to London via Ripon and spend the last two days in Windsor.  You can follow our adventure on my Facebook page.

We will miss all our family and friends while on vacation, and we will be looking forward to returning to Thurmont.


Burgess Heath Barnes

Happy New Year! It is hard to believe it’s 2024, but a new year has arrived. I hope it’s a happy and blessed year for all and that you all had a wonderful holiday season.

On December 16, the Town of Woodsboro teamed up with the Woodsboro and New Midway volunteer fire departments to participate in a Santa run that lasted several hours and covered many streets and roads in the town of Woodsboro and areas of New Midway. The response that we received from not only the young ones but people of all ages was wonderful, and we will be doing it again next year. Playing Santa is always rewarding and magical, seeing the joyous looks on the faces of the children.

At the town meeting on December 12, 2023, we reviewed the seven bids from contractors to build the town hall. We all were a little shocked, to be honest, and are back to making some changes. We have a budget of about $900,000, with the $400,000 that we were able to secure from the state for the building, but the bids came in between $1.7 million and $2.3 million. We are in talks about how we can make some changes and get the building into our price range. I also reached out to our county- and state-elected officials to request additional financial assistance. At the time of this article being written, I have not heard back. We are working diligently and going to get the building built; it just may not be the exact style we had planned.

Lights are going up around the new skate park that is being used by the community, and we are very pleased that this project was able to happen. I encourage parents to have their children wear helmets when utilizing the skate park to avoid unnecessary accidents.

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

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

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

James Rada, Jr.

Inflation rising. The Middle East in turmoil. Sections of the U.S. witnessed a solar eclipse. Paul McCartney played in groups that had one of the top songs of the year.

And so it was when a 23-year-old Greg Eyler became a police officer with Thurmont in 1979, and so it is as he retires on December 1, after 44 years as a police officer, the last 18 of which were as the chief of police of the Thurmont Police Department.

“It’s time,” Eyler said. “I’ve been here 18 years, which is really unheard of for a police chief.”

Eyler is believed to be the longest-serving police chief in Thurmont; although, for some reason, no one is able to verify the service dates for Chief Herman Shook, who happened to be the chief who hired Eyler as a police officer in 1979.

It was Eyler’s dream job. He grew up on Church Street in Thurmont and would see Thurmont Police pass by while he was out playing ball with his friends.

“I always heard and saw that they did a great job, and that’s what I wanted to do.”

Eyler graduated from the Montgomery County Police Academy in August 1979. He served as a police officer in his hometown until November 1980, when he transferred to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

As a sheriff’s deputy, he trained in many areas over his 25 years with the sheriff’s office. In September 1990, he was the first ever to receive the Department Commendation for Valor. He attended and graduated from The FBI National Academy in 1994. He retired from the sheriff’s office as a major in 2005.

He retired because then-Mayor Marty Burns and Commissioner Bill Blakeslee visited him to ask if he would consider becoming Thurmont’s chief of police. He thought it over for about a week before he accepted.

“I like challenges,” Eyler said. “This was a challenge, and I never regretted any of it.”

When Eyler took over as chief, the Thurmont Police Department had seven sworn officers and two civilian employees. They worked out of 500 square feet at the back of the old town office building.

“We had an I-bolt that went through the wall to the outside,” Eyler said. “That’s how we held our prisoners.”

Today, the department has fourteen sworn officers and six civilian employees in a modern building on East Main Street.

While Eyler and the department had many achievements during his tenure (see sidebar), he is most proud of how he improved the relationship between the police, the citizens, and the town staff.

“They did not get along back then, but you need to because that’s how you solve crimes when you all work together,” Eyler said.

He encouraged his officers to get out in the community and get to know the people they were protecting. As they did, respect between the community and the department grew.

As he prepares to retire, Eyler has no regrets.

“I think I did everything I could for the town, and they were appreciative of that,” Eyler said. “I’m a hometown boy, and this is what I wanted to do here in the town of Thurmont: Make this department one of the best that I can and make this town as safe as I can.”

Eyler has no plans for retirement. “I’m going to do what my wife, kids, and grandkids tell me,” he said.

He knows retirement will require an adjustment, beginning when he gets up in the morning and has to decide what to wear since his closet is full of uniforms. “I think I have to go shopping now because I don’t have anything to wear,” he said.

“Chief Eyler has served our community and the residents of Thurmont in an exemplary manner.  I can’t thank Greg enough for his professionalism and dedication to the Town of Thurmont. Our residents’ safety has always been his highest priority, and for that, we are sincerely thankful and appreciative,” said Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird.  

Lt. David Armstrong will succeed Eyler as the new chief.

Mayor Terry Best swears in Thurmont’s newest Police Officer in 1979.

Chief Herman Shook welcomes Greg Eyler to the Thurmont Police.

The Town of Thurmont listed a number of achievements of the Thurmont Police Department under Chief Greg Eyler’s leadership when it announced his retirement after 18 years as the chief of police. During his years as chief, he has:

Initiated and managed the design, construction, and transition to the current TPD headquarters.

Expanded the department from 7 to 14 authorized sworn police officers and 6 civilian employees and expanded the Department training program to include specialized training.

Created and implemented a Detective/Investigator Position, Narcotics Detection K-9 Program, and Code Enforcement Officer Program.

Developed the TPD Mission Statement, Vision Statement, Values Statement, website, and social media account.

Expanded and redesigned the TPD vehicle fleet and department logo.

Developed and implemented first-ever Department Rules and Regulations and Job Descriptions for all employees; civilian and sworn; TPD’s first Disaster Plan for potential terrorist incidents and weather-related incidents; Special Operation Plans for Active Assailant Response, Police Involved Shooting Response, and COVID Response Plan.

Implemented state-of-the-art technology systems to allow for integration with other police agencies, including mobile data computers, in-car video cameras, LPR (license plate readers), E-TIX software, and body-worn cameras.

Enhanced community policing efforts by providing training from The Mid-Atlantic Regional Community Policing Institute for all sworn personnel. 

Created and implemented a TIPS line for anonymous tips from citizens and Thurmont’s automated speed monitoring program.

Joined the National Child Safety Council, which provides educational material relating to drug and alcohol issues, senior citizen scam assistance, missing and exploited children, and school safety.

Presented and received approval of the first-ever departmental pay scale and LEOPS program.

Coordinated, implemented, and managed Response Plans for large events, including G8 Summit, demonstrations, rallies, and the annual Colorfest event.

Expanded community outreach programs to include National Night Out, Safety Pup, traffic-calming initiatives, bicycle safety, and child safety seat installations.

He is a member of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association, The Maryland Municipal Police Executive League, and the FBI National Academy Associates.

He has been recognized as CHS Distinguished Graduate for Public Service; Lions Club/Shumaker Roofing Officer of the Year and received the Enforcement Commendation medal presented by The Sons of the American Revolution.

During his tenure, the Town of Thurmont has been recognized as one of the safest communities in Maryland numerous times.

Catoctin High School recognized its graduates who have gone on to find success post-high school during its 8th Annual Distinguished Graduates Induction Ceremony on November 21.

Principal Jennifer Clements welcomed the students and guests, expressing pride in the school’s plentiful distinguished alumni.

The Catoctin High School Distinguished Graduate Organization was formed in 2015 to honor alumni in the areas of academics, arts and humanities, athletics, business, and public service.

This year’s alumni were honored for achievements in academics, public service, and arts and humanities, who have made a difference in the state or nation.

The ceremony also recognizes former Catoctin High staff who have had a significant impact on students.

Susan Weaver was one of the Former Catoctin Staff Member Inductees. She worked as a school counselor for 32 years, about half of that at Catoctin High School. She also coached JV basketball, varsity volleyball, and softball. She also worked at the ticket gate with colleagues, officiated athletic events, and enjoyed pep rallies. Susan recently moved to Delaware and enjoys biking the Eastern Shore bike paths, golfing, walking on the beach, and has recently started playing pickleball.

Brian Persse (Class of 1999) was the Public Service Inductee. He is a senior analyst with the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, where he leads high-visibility audits of the National Highway Traffic Safety and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials administrations.

Jeff Barber (Class of 1994) was the Business Inductee. After graduation, Jeff pursued a career in farming and construction. He started Playground Specialists Inc. in 1998 at the age of 22. Through the past 25 years, while keeping the company located in Thurmont region, Playground Specialists has installed large custom playgrounds all over the region, totaling almost $250 million in revenue, and becoming one of the leaders throughout the world in the recreation market. He also opened Thurmont’s first ice vending machine, Twice the Ice, and purchased Maple Run Golf Course.

William Delawter (Class of 2004) was the Athletic Inductee. As a sophomore at Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, he pitched on the state champion baseball team before transferring to finish his high school career at Catoctin the following year. He continued playing baseball at UMBC at the Division 1 level.

He has been named a Frederick County’s Player of the Year, earned a spot on the Brooks Robinson All-Star Team, was a Team Maryland Selection, a JUCO All American, UMBC Pre-Season All-American, and 1st Team All-Region, just to name only a few. In 2009, Will was inducted into the Chesapeake College Hall of Fame.

Will earned an associate degree from Chesapeake College and a bachelor’s degree on a full scholarship to UMBC, where he played baseball at the Division 1 level. He also obtained his master’s degree from Frostburg University.

He is now a teacher at Whittier Elementary School, but he has been an assistant baseball coach at Catoctin High since 2015.

Jeff McAfee (Class of 1982) was the Arts and Humanities Inductee. After graduating Catoctin High in 1982, Jeff started working for the State of Maryland in the division of Maryland Environmental Service as a Water Plant Operator for 10 years. From there, he moved to the Maryland Park Service and worked at South Mountain Recreation area as a Park Technician for 11 years. Jeff then transferred to Maryland Wildlife Division and is currently a Wildlife Technician.

Robert Viti is the second Former Catoctin Staff Member Inductee. Robert started his educational career as a Social Studies teacher at Dundalk Middle School and eventually transferred to Frederick County Public Schools, where he continued teaching Social Studies. He then became an assistant principal with Frederick County Public Schools and eventually landed at Catoctin High School, where he also took the role as Behavior Support Specialist. In 2016, he was inducted into the Frederick County Soccer Hall of Fame. He is also a lifetime member of the National PTA, as well as an honorary chapter FFA member of Catoctin High School.

Distinguished graduates are shown (left to right) Susan Weaver, William Delawter, Jeff McAfee, Robert Viti, Brian Persse, and Jeff Barber.

Photo by Keith Bruck

Richard D. L. Fulton

Readers of November 27, 1897, issue of The Baltimore Sun, were greeted by this: “A fire, which at one time threatened to sweep away the whole town of Taneytown, Carroll County, began this evening (November 26) about 7 o’clock (p.m.)…”

Those who resided in the Taneytown area at large were likely already aware of the blaze, as the reflection of the flames in the sky and the rising smoke were reportedly seen as far away as Emmitsburg, and Hanover, Pennsylvania, more than 15 miles away, according to The Democrat Advocate.

Although the cause of the costly fire was never ascertained, a number of newspapers, large and small, reported on much of the details of the event, which The Advocate summed up in their headline, “Taneytown Narrowly Escapes Destruction.”

Three factors aided in the spread of the flames:

    The majority of the businesses and homes in Taneytown at the time were wooden-framed structures, as was the case in most of the rural Mid-Atlantic towns and communities dating back to their founding. Trees were common then. Bricks were more expensive.

    The second issue was the lack of a water supply system and its associated pipeline infrastructure. Construction of a waterworks had been previously begun, but had not yet been completed, according to The Baltimore SunThe Democrat Advocate noted that, fortunately, there was plenty of water available (mainly in the form of local wells, but …

    The third factor contributing to the spread of the fire came into play – Taneytown did not have a “regularly organized” fire department at the time that could have delivered and utilized the water from the wells.  As a result, The Baltimore Sun reported, “every citizen responded to the call for help,” no doubt through the employment of bucket brigades, wherein people form a chain, passing buckets of water hand-to-hand from the source of the water to where it is needed, and then passing the empty buckets back to the wells.

While, as previously stated, the cause of the fire was never determined during, or in the wake of the inferno. Where it began was known almost immediately.

According to The Democrat Advocate, the fire started in a wooden “hay packing warehouse,” belonging to Tobias H. Eckenrode around 7:45 p.m. on the evening of November 26. The Baltimore Sun, which gave the time of the fire as having been 7:00 p.m., also stated that the warehouse was also storing hay, grain, and other items at the time of the fire.

Destructive fire was no stranger to Eckenrode property in Taneytown. In 1889, a blaze broke out in his coal and lumber sheds, fanned by high winds, according to The Baltimore Sun. That fire was also described as posing a threat to the town, as well as to the warehouse, which was ultimately leveled by the 1897 fire.

As far as the 1897 blaze, the Baltimore newspaper reported that “in a short while both warehouse and the adjoining buildings were in the flames.” So quickly was the fire gaining ground and potentially threatening the town, that help was sought to combat the fire from as far away as Littlestown, Pennsylvania (whose fire department reportedly arrived by 9:00 p.m.). The Baltimore Sun, however, reported that by the time the Littlestown hose company arrived, the fire was essentially already under control, although a “number of the buildings were still in flames.”

The Democrat Advocate reported that it was clear from the start that the Eckenrode warehouse was “doomed,” and, thus, the citizens endeavored to protect nearby property,” further noting the intensity of the heat had quickly spread the fire to a building housing the local newspaper.

The Democrat Advocate further reported that local authorities had also sought help from the Hanover firefighters but were told the Hanover firemen could not take their apparatus out of Hanover “without the permission of the burgess, and before he could be found, the last train had departed.”

Also arriving were multitudes of interested observers. “Great crowds of people from the vicinity and surrounding county were at the fire, as the blaze could be seen for (10-15) miles (in all directions).” The Advocate reported that “the flames were fierce, leaping high in the air.”

The next notable structure which had succumbed to the inferno was a wooden, three-story building, belonging to E. E. Reindollar, which contained the office and printing operations of The Carroll Record, according to The Sun.

All of the newspaper’s machinery, lead type, and other equipment were destroyed in the fire; arrangements were subsequently made by Editor P. H. Englar with The Frederick News to publish The Carroll Record in their offices, until The Record’s office in Taneytown could be restored, The Sun reported. The Record had only been in business for about four years.

From the building that had housed the newspaper, the fire had quickly spread to Stanley Heaver’s saddler shop, a dwelling owned by Eckenrode and was being rented by Josiah Snyder, and a double dwelling owned by John Davidson.

The fire was essentially declared under control before midnight, The Sun stated. Most of the fire-fighting effort was the result of citizen volunteers, who had extinguished the worst of it by hauling water from wells, before Littlestown firefighters could arrive at the scene.

Damage to the buildings that were affected by the flames amounted to some $20,000, by early estimates, but the value of the business and personal contents of each of the buildings that had burned remained undetermined at the time, according to several newspapers. Those included (according to The Sun):

The loss suffered by the burning of the Eckenrode warehouse, which included a dwelling, other structures, and the stored grain and hay, was given as being $8,500, of which only $5,600 was covered by insurance.

    The loss of the Carroll Record Printng Company(the newspaper) and the saddlery shop amounted to $5,000. The loss of the contents of the newspaper was listed as $2,000, of which only $1,000 was insured.

    F. S. Stakey’s cigar shop (located in a building owned by Stanley Reader) sustained an estimated $900 in cigar stock, of which $500 was insured.

    John Davidson’s dwelling, including contents, sustained a loss of $4,000, of which $3,400 was insured.

Other buildings in the town were also damaged by the fire, but their sustained damages were “very slight.”

That there were no noteworthy injuries or deaths associated with the fire-fighting effort was remarkable, given that it was largely brought under control by citizen volunteers.

But five miles out of Taneytown at Bruce Mill Junction, another devastating fire had destroyed Hammond’s Mill, located along Little Pipe Creek, on December 3, only a week after the Taneytown fire.

The outcome was not so fortunate. 

Miller George Biehl was last heard from when he was calling for help from within the burning building.

According to The Democrat Advocate, “After the fire, his bones were found in the ruins of the mill and taken to his residence… They were interred later.”

  Richard D. L. Fulton

“Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite.”  How many readers have heard that often-spoken form of good night over the decades?

It can actually be kind of humorous… until it’s not.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), all consider bed bugs a public health pest, even though the creatures are not known to spread or transmit diseases.

Nevertheless, an infestation of bed bugs can adversely impact the quality of life.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are insects belonging to a family of insects that feed upon mammalian blood—that of bats, birds, and notoriously, humans, depending on the species. 

Because bed bugs do not fly, they tend to rely on a means of transportation such as on clothing and furnishings involving cloth as part of their effort to promulgate the species.

Britney Bishop, formerly of Adams County, spending 16 years in upper hotel management in the Gettysburg area, to serving as hotel operations manager in Pasco County, Florida, provided much insight regarding the “nature of the beasts.”

Bishop said bed bugs can lay from one to five eggs each day, and may lay up to 500 eggs within a lifetime.

“If you see an adult, it means they have been there for quite a while, as it takes a bedbug 21 days to reach maturity,” Bishop said, adding, “Bed bugs can live four to six months.”

Detecting Bed Bugs

Finding and correctly indentifying an infestation early is important. The EPA suggests various ways to determine if bed bugs are present:

    Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bed bugs being crushed.

    Dark spots (about this size: •), which are bed bug excrement and may bleed on the fabric like a marker would.

    Eggs and eggshells, which are tiny (about 1mm) and pale-yellow skins that nymphs shed as they grow larger.

    Live bed bugs.

Also, the EPA lists a number of places where bed bugs can be found:

    In the seams of chairs and couches, between cushions, and in the folds of curtains.

    In drawer joints.

    In electrical receptacles and appliances.

    Under loose wallpaper and wall hangings.

    At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet.

    In the head of a screw.

Treating Bugs in the Single-Family Home or Office

Aside from contacting a qualified exterminator, some measures can be taken at home and/or office to combat a bed bug infestation. suggests the following:

    First and foremost, if bed bugs are detected in the home, contact a qualified exterminator.  In the interim, suggests washing bedding and clothing in hot water for 30 minutes. Then, put them in a dryer on the highest heat setting for 30 minutes.

    Use a steamer on mattresses, couches, and other places where bedbugs hide.

    Pack up infested items in black bags and leave them outside on a hot day that reaches 95°F (35°C) or in a closed car. In cooler temperatures, it can take 2 to 5 months to kill sealed-up bugs.

    Put bags containing bedbugs in the freezer at 0°F (-17.78°C). Use a thermometer to check the temperature. Leave them in there for at least 4 days. For additional guidance, visit

Treating Bed Bugs in the Multifamily Residences

Multifamily residences can include apartment buildings, townhouses, hotels, and dorms.

Using hotels as an example, Bishop said a hotel she managed in Florida employed the following to deal with bed bugs:

Preventive measures were taken in the form of weekly, random inspections by a licensed exterminator (hotels would generally have a higher turnover of occupancy than an apartment complex or dorms, thus possibly requiring more frequent inspections).

Housekeeping was educated to report potential bed bug activity to management.

In addition, Bishop said, that guests will report possible bed bug activities that all other measures might have missed or that occurred between exterminator inspections.

“Employing an exterminator to perform routine inspections is the first line of defense,” Bishop stated.

For additional information, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

I’ve always found it amusing how there is no apparent “Thanksgiving season.” We transition from carved pumpkins and spider webs to Christmas songs and garlands as soon as Halloween ends. In stores, shelves quickly go from bags of trick-or-treating candy to candy canes and gingerbread men. With brands adopting festive packaging and wrapping products in green and red foil, Christmas is linked closely to consumerism.

The materialistic aspect of Christmas never quite dissipates. It begins early—children pen letters to Santa and circle images in magazines for what they want to receive under the tree. Unlike most other occasions, the holiday season never loses its splendor with time. Adults, too, are excited to snag deals on Black Friday and embellish their homes with decorations. It must be something in the air.

Christmas shopping is far from inexpensive! Forbes expects holiday sales to top 957 billion dollars this year, and this incredible total will likely only increase as each year’s spending outdoes the previous year by around 4 percent. Most of this money goes toward gifts, constituting 65 percent of Christmas spending. 20 percent goes toward gift cards and vouchers—perfect presents for those who claim not to want presents. On an individual level, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans spend an average of 997 dollars each Christmas.

Businesses understand well how receptive consumers are to supplementary spending during the holidays. Stores are promoting Christmas shopping earlier and earlier with each passing year, it seems. Companies release seasonal products and offer holiday discounts, all while playing Christmas tunes to encourage gift-giving. (Did you know “Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving song?)

Interestingly, some claim this commercial tendency diminishes the magnificence of Christmas: What used to be special and short-lived now lasts for two months, and the excessive commercialization of the holiday causes it to feel more like an obligation or a chore, as opposed to a merry tradition.

Although many report feeling stressed about holiday shopping, usually, delivering and accepting presents “[activate] pathways in the brain that release oxytocin, which is a neuropeptide that signals trust, safety, and connection” (American Psychological Association). Not only do gift-receivers feel rewarded, but gift-givers do, too! Perhaps this shared essence of generosity is what’s floating in the air amid these times. Gift-giving has undoubtedly become an integral characteristic of Christmas.

Speaking of presents, it may be challenging to identify what to give a teenager. I am one and still struggle to purchase the perfect gift for my friends. Therefore, this month, I decided to ask peers what they think the best and worst gifts to receive are!

Multiple individuals prioritized the usefulness of their presents. “I guess my worst Christmas present would have to be a bow my dad bought,” somebody answered. “It was a pretty sick bow that had some cool arrows, but where am I going to use a bow? My best Christmas present would have to be [the] viola I have now. [I named it] Charlotte.”

Comparably, a friend explained, “I would say the best is practical things. This year, [I’d like] things for college, clothes, shoes, or electronics. The worst is things I wouldn’t use, like makeup. That’s a tough question, though.”

Another overarching theme within the sample population was how students spotlighted the amount of thought invested in their gifts. “I think the best are sentimental or handmade gifts. I don’t think there are any ‘worst’ gifts, but I would say clothes because that’s more boring.”

This is where I fall when it comes to presents as well. Nothing beats a heartfelt, handwritten card alongside something functional and fun to try, from a gift card for an unfamiliar restaurant to a new perfume.

A few emphasized the surprise element behind the gifts. “The best gift you could receive is a puppy because who doesn’t love puppies? I can’t really think of the worst gift you could get. Maybe something underwhelming like coal, but then again, coal is pretty useful sometimes.”

Some appreciated the versatility of their gifts. “Money would definitely be the best—you could use that for anything,” someone shared. “Pencils would be the worst for me.”

On the flip side, interestingly, several respondents weren’t fond of receiving cash for Christmas. “I think money is more of a birthday gift than a Christmas gift,” somebody remarked. Another commented, “Money is one of the worst gifts I could receive. My mom ends up taking my money.” Similarly, another friend revealed, “I’d say money or a gift card isn’t something I like because it’s not meaningful. [The] best would be jewelry and stuffed animals because you can keep [them] forever and they’re more meaningful.”

There you have it: some input from teenagers like myself about what they prefer receiving as gifts. Evidently, we all like different things, which adds to the thrill and difficulty of gift shopping. Rest assured: As long as the gift was given with love, we will be grateful! The saying “It’s the thought that counts” has never been so true (and has never felt so comforting)!

Richard D. L. Fulton

For the bicyclist enthusiast who has no issue with braving the winter months enjoying bike trails, Mountaindale appears to offer several challenging options in any season.

Mountaindale, itself, is located in Frederick County and has been described as a “log cabin community.”  The community remains in a generally rural area of Frederick County.

The first trail system established in Mountaindale and the surrounding county lands was essentially established as game trails by prehistoric nomads thousands of years ago, before the Native American tribes with which everyone is generally equated even existed.

Archaeologists have even discovered prehistoric spearheads, so unique that they bear the name Mountaindale points, dating from the Middle Archaic Period (4,000 to 6,000 B.C.).

Even though prehistoric inhabitants were well acquainted with the area, very little information about Mountaindale has yet to make it to the 21st century internet.

However, information regarding a number of Mountaindale biking trails has been reported.

All of those in the trail systems noted below are located wholly or mostly within the City of Frederick Municipal Forest and Watershed and/or Gambrill State Park, according to, and the trails below also employ the names as given on that website. described the trail systems within the Municipal Forest and Watershed as being “a virtual labyrinth of interconnecting trails.”

Just a few are noted below.

Salamander Trail (also known as the Skink and Salamander Trail):

The length given for Salamander (loop) Trail is 3.7 miles and is classified as suitable for mountain bikes and hiking, according to 

The trail begins on Gambrill Park Road, a short distance to the north from the intersection of that road and Tower Road, and then continues in a circuitous loop until it returns to its starting point, according to, who also rates the trail as “moderately challenging,” and takes a little over one hour to traverse. The trail also leads past a geographical feature known as Salamander Rock (also known as Salamander Mountain).

Gambrill Yellow (loop) Trail (apparently also known as the Yellow Poplar Trail):

The length given for the Gambrill Yellow Trail is 7.2 miles, and is listed by as appropriate for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, and is described as “moderately challenging,” and can take some three hours to complete the trek. Dogs are welcome but must remain leashed. 

This loop trail begins and ends in the parking lot of the Gambrill State Park Trail System parking lot.  The trail passes several landmarks, including the Middletown Overlook, Bootjack Springs, and North and South Frederick viewpoints.

Knuckle Buster Trail, VW Trail, and Catoctin National Recreational Trail:

Knuckle Buster Trail, VW Trail, and Catoctin National Recreational Trail is a loop-trail system, which begins and ends in the area of Hamburg Road Parking Lot.

The loop is given as being 2.8 miles in extent, according to (note: for just using the Knuckle Buster Trail alone, refer to the references listed at the end of this feature). The loop can take from a little over an hour to an hour and a half to complete and is classified as being “moderately challenging.”

The trail may be used for hiking, mountain biking, and running. reports that dogs are welcome but must remain leashed, further noting, “The trail is not well marked in places, so downloading the map ahead of time is recommended.”

Lawn Mower, Rocky Stream Bed Trail, and Kubla Khan Loop:

Lawn Mower, Rocky Stream Bed Trail, and Kubla Khan Loop is a 4.1-mile trek, according to, which also classifies the trail as “moderately challenging.”

The trail has its access located off where Gambrill State Park begins, and ends on an access road off Gambrill State Park. noted, “this is a popular trail for mountain biking.”

Dogs are welcome, and may be off leash in certain areas. 

For maps and information on other Mountaindale trails, visit and

by James Rada, Jr.


New Commissioners Sworn In

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird swore in newly elected commissioners Marty Burns and Bob Lookingbill during the November 4th town meeting to serve four-year terms.

Connection and Impact Fees Raised

The Thurmont Mayor and Board of Commissioners raised impact fees for the town, and they are expected to increase the connection fees. Connection fees are the cost new development pays to connect to the town’s water and sewer systems. The impact fees are fees that new development pays based on the development’s impact on various things in town. The fees must be spent on the items they are paid for.

The new impact fees are:

Water — $3,935, up from $2,885.

Wastewater — $5,575, up from $2,275.

Sewer Pumping Station — $1,000, up from $250.

Roads — $2,760, up from $1,500.

Parks — $1,840, up from $1,000.

The proposed connection fees that the commissioners are expected to pass are:

Water — $4,145, up from $2,500.

Sewer — $5,065, up from $2,500.

Easements Released

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to release easements the town holds on two parcels because they are no longer needed for a public purpose. The easements were on a property on Clark Drive and the Mountain Gate Business Park. The property owners will now have the property with encumbrances.


Appointments Made

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners unanimously appointed former mayor and commissioner Jim Hoover to fill the unexpired term for the commissioner seat that was left vacant when Frank Davis was elected as Emmitsburg mayor during the recent town election.

The commissioners also appointed Patricia Galloway as a member of the Emmitsburg Planning Commission, with a term running from November 6, 2023, to March 1, 2026.

Board Reorganized

In a change from years past, rather than putting forth recommendations for which board members should serve in which positions, Mayor Frank Davis allowed the board to decide among themselves which roles the board members would serve.

President: Amy Boehman-Pollitt

Vice President: Jim Hoover

Treasurer: Valerie Turnquist

Parks and Recreation Committee Liaison: Tim O’Donnell

Planning Commission Liaison: Valerie Turnquist

Citizens’ Advisory Committee: Jim Hoover

Town Gets Some Water Fund Relief

Emmitsburg received almost $3.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act money in two payments in 2021 and 2022. It is money designated to help towns and states deal with losses due to the COVID pandemic. Town staff determined that it lost $300,000 from one of its largest water users, FEMA, during the COVID restrictions. Town staff proposed using $300,000 from the ARPA money to fund operating and maintenance costs in the water fund for fiscal year 2024. The hope is that it lessens the impact of the water rate increases the town needed to make recently.


Mayor Frank Davis

My first few months as mayor have passed quickly. It has been busy and I’m constantly learning something new. The behind-the-scenes operations that keep our town running are impressive. I have gained a new appreciation for the workload and time required to meet the needs of our citizens. Sometimes, it may seem like your concerns are not being heard, but I can assure you that is not the case. Our team, both employees and elected officials, are here to listen and will do our best to respond to these concerns promptly.

I would like to welcome Jim Hoover to the Emmitsburg Board of Town Commissioners. Mr. Hoover is a former mayor and town commissioner and will bring a wealth of knowledge to the council. Mr. Hoover will fill the remaining 11 months of my vacated commissioner term. I would also like to thank all the citizens who expressed an interest in the position; it is evident how many people truly care about making a difference.

Over the last month, I attended many meetings and met many new people, but two events stand out. I was invited to Emmitsburg Elementary School to take part in “Starts with Hello Week.” I was able to meet and speak with each student as they arrived to begin their school day. Their smiles and handshakes were a fantastic way to start the day. I also had the opportunity to speak with the fourth-grade class of Mother Seton School. I spent time speaking about what it was like to be mayor. As most of you know, kids of that age keep you on your toes, and you never know what the next question might be. My time spent interacting with those students gives me hope that the future is bright and there are good things to come.

Be on the lookout for a groundbreaking around Creamery Court. Federal Stone (currently located in Thurmont) is scheduled to begin construction of their new building in the first part of December. The construction process should take about six months, with hopes of moving into their new home in July of 2024. In addition, the remaining building lots on Creamery Court have been sold and are in various phases of pre-construction.

Please check the town website for holiday hours, as they may change in the month of December. Even with the reduced hours, know that we have staff on call, and I can be reached if there are emergency situations.

Let us cherish family and friends this holiday season. From my family to yours: Best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very happy New Year!

Please feel free to contact me at, and I will do my best to respond within the same business day.


Mayor John Kinnaird

Christmas is upon us, and Karen and I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

On December 1, Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler retired from the Thurmont Police Department. Chief Eyler served our community for 18 years and in those years, he brought the department from a small town force to a professional police department. Greg began his police career right here in Thurmont, under the guidance of Chief Herman Shook. He moved on to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department, where he came up through the ranks and retired as a Major before returning to the Thurmont Police Department. During his time here, our department has grown in size and moved into a new headquarters building. His leadership brought new technology, an increase in the number of sworn officers, and a new standard of community policing. One of the chief’s most recent accomplishments was instituting the switch to a dedicated retirement benefit for his officers. His service has created a police department that our community is very proud of, and we all thank him for his service. We wish Greg and Brenda all the best as they head off on a new adventure in life.

Please consider donations to the Thurmont Food Bank and Clothes Closet in the coming weeks and months. The winter months bring additional hardships to our friends, neighbors, and family members who are less fortunate than ourselves. Donations of non-perishable food, decent cold weather clothing, or cash to these organizations can make a real difference in the lives of many.

It is with great sadness that I talk about the death of former Thurmont Commissioner Bill Buehrer. Bill lost his battle with cancer last Wednesday. I have known Bill for about fourteen years, having met him while attending Thurmont Town meetings. We sat in the back row and shared our thoughts on the future of the town. Bill ran for office in 2011 and was elected as commissioner of the Town of Thurmont. Commissioner Buehrer was extremely proud to serve our community and would often state that Thurmont was the best municipality in Frederick County. He truly believed that we live in the best town possible and worked hard to make sure our residents received the best possible municipal service. As a commissioner, he was very supportive of all events in town and volunteered to help at many of them. He was proud of the sense of spirit in our community and was active in Economic Development, Main Street, and was an active supporter of the Gateway to the Cure fundraising. Bill was very supportive of all of our staff and police officers and helped ensure they got the equipment necessary to do their jobs professionally.

It was my pleasure to serve with Bill over the past 12 years. We did not always see eye to eye on every topic, but we worked to do what was best for our community. Bill and I found ourselves at the radiology department at Johns Hopkins, where we both underwent radiation therapy for our cancers. He was keenly aware of how impactful illness could be on families and was very considerate of those impacted by cancer. This is why he was such a dedicated supporter of the Gateway for the Cure campaign. We spoke often about our illnesses, and he had a very encouraging and positive outlook. I am sorry to see Bill pass, but I will be forever grateful to have known him. Karen and I send our deepest condolences to Bill’s wife Colleen and their family.

Here are some thoughts from others who served with Bill.

Former Commissioner Wes Hamrick:

“It was my honor and privilege to first meet Bill several years ago when I was hired as a staff member with Stauffer Funeral Home. He and his wife, Colleen, recently transferred from South Carolina to work the pre-needs and aftercare for the Stauffer Funeral Home. I instantly connected with both of them. Bill, along with prompting by Colleen, convinced me to run for commissioner. It was their encouragement, faith in my ability, and support that I made the decision to run.

For 10 years, I served with Bill. His personality and that of the other board members provided a nice balance on the dais. Although Bill could have a sometimes gruff and tough-minded exterior, underneath was a very kind and gentle spirit. He truly had the heart of servitude for his community and only wanted the best for Thurmont.”

“The next to the last time I saw Bill was at my last meeting as commissioner.  I went to each one and hugged and thanked them for their support and for the privilege of serving with them. Since Bill sat at the furthest end of the dais, he was the last one for me to thank. We hugged and he held on to me and we said I love you to each other. He truly was a gentle bear in the truest sense. He will be missed and my prayers are with Colleen and his family.”

May God keep you in His protective arms, my friend.”

Commissioner Wayne Hooper:

“Bill loved our community and served with the best interest of Thurmont at the heart of his work. He was always quick to say that Thurmont is the best municipality in Frederick County, and he truly believed it was.”

CAO Jim Humerick:

“I think Bill was a man of great integrity who loved Thurmont. I sincerely appreciate his support of the town employees and our endeavors to improve operations over the years.”

CFO Linda Joyce:

“I am sorry to hear about Bill. I would like to mention he was receptive to moving the town forward and embraced positive change.”

Economic Development Manager Vickie Grinder:

“I will always remember and love Bill for his compassion and support for the Gateway to The Cure campaign. He was a driving force for the Gateway To The Cure Golf Classic, and was a huge reason for its success. Even when he wasn’t feeling his best, he was always there to help with the tournament, no matter the task he was given. Bill was also a huge supporter of all of our Thurmont small businesses and their owners and could be found patronizing them all. I will greatly miss him and his ambition to bring home a larger check each year for our Gateway to The Cure for the Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund. I sure hope he is looking down and smiling because this year was the largest total collected in our 10-year history of the campaign. I will miss you, Bill.”

Comments, concerns, or compliments? I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or at


Burgess Heath Barnes

I hope each of you had a very happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Blessed New Year. If you can volunteer at a place in the community or help with Christmas for a family that doesn’t have the resources, I encourage it. I promise you; it is very rewarding.

On November 4, 2023, we opened the bidding process for the new town hall. Within three days, we had six contractors reaching out with interest in bidding on the project. All prospective bids are due in the town office by noon on December 4, 2023. All received bids will be presented to the town council on December 12, 2023, and a vote to select the contractor will take place at the January 9, 2024, town meeting. We are all very excited about this next step in getting the construction of the town hall started soon.

As many noticed, water bills for this quarter went out late. This was due to 12 residents not having completed the water meter change upgrade. Billing could not be completed until all were updated. The town had to spend extra money and bring in a new plumber on October 20 to complete these final 12 upgrades, as the contractor’s time in town was only for September. We have finally completed the upgrade. This will make billing much smoother; in January, we will be able to start taking electronic payments, which has been a request for a long time now.

Santa Claus (aka the burgess) will make an appearance at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 17, riding around town with the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department. This year, we will be going down all the town streets and possibly up toward the New Midway area as well. After the Santa run, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Santa will be back at the firehouse for pictures until 4:00 p.m. All are welcome to come out and say hello.

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

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164.If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164. Woodsboro Town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, Planning and Zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. John’s United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

Blair Garrett

Festival season is upon us.

There’s no doubt we’ve all noticed the changing of the season. A biting cold light frost has replaced the morning dew from summer’s end. Our windshields are foggier than they were just a month ago. And, come October, Northern Frederick County gets a whole lot busier.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, the race to get your loved ones something special is on. And there may be no better place to find that special item for your family than at one of our great local annual events.

Despite the rain, doom and gloom, shoppers arrived in droves to the three big October festivals on the weekend of October 14-15. Colorfest, Ridgefest, and Mountain Fest vendors all braved the weather to put on a great showing for visitors.

Colorfest has been renowned as one of the nation’s top craft events for the past 60 years. Patrons arrive by the bus load to sample some of the great food or check out some of the best artists in the area. On every corner in the Thurmont Community Park during Colorfest weekend, there are some of the most interesting and unique items for sale. You can find anything, from custom metal airplanes to hand-crafted jewelry.

Vendors come from all over the east coast to show off some of the custom art and products they’ve been working on throughout the year.

There are even multiple stands of organic local honey to satisfy your sweet tooth, along with all your classic festival treats like whoopie pies, fried oreos, and chicken on a stick. Colorfest is one of the year’s most fun community events because of all the representation from businesses and craftsmen that are scattered throughout our region. You can get delicious brisket sandwiches from some of your favorite local fire companies, or baked goods from any of the various churches who reserved a spot along the way.

The money spent each year at Colorfest goes a long way into supporting these organizations, so they can continue creating the products that brighten up our communities.

Even with heavy rains, blustering winds and cloudy skies, Colorfest once again reminded us of how many talented people make up our towns. Hopefully, next year’s festival weekend is a little sunnier and a little bit warmer; but no matter what, the support from festival-goers is sure to be there.

Mountain Fest is another one of the great events put on by our tight-knit community. Each year, Sabillasville Environmental School sees tons of friendly faces pass through the halls, checking out some of the delicious pastries for sale and the many artisan crafts. There are food trucks serving up hot meals and happiness, and music in the background to keep everything fun and exciting.

Another huge draw for visitors is the annual car show at Mountain Fest, which is a huge attraction for automotive aficionados from far and wide. The antique tractor show also featured is perfectly fitting for our big farming community.

There was no shortage of specialty items featured at this year’s Sabillasville Mountain Festival. Tammy and Donald Haycraft displayed a huge variety of custom specialty pens, with some featuring your favorite sports teams, some fit from bullet shell casings, and some Halloween pens fit for the season. The pair even has a pen made from the wood of the old Yankees’ Stadium. Now, that’s what you call a collector’s item.

If neither of those events are in your wheelhouse, Rocky Ridge’s annual Ridgefest might be just what you’re looking for. While the kids play on Mount Tabor Park’s famous big slide, you can always catch the popular apple butter boiling demonstration. And, even with the rain, Mount Tabor Church put on a great event for locals to stop by and see.

All items sold at the park were donated by locals who enjoy giving back to the community, and the proceeds made for the event go toward keeping Mount Tabor Park a great place for everyone to gather.

At the end of the day on Saturday, there were still lots of great deals and great items being sold. Tons of cool memorabilia, lamps, cards, custom benches, and so much more were still available for patrons to check out, and they’re sure to have more donated items for next year.

It’s a great yearly festival that showcases how shopping local benefits our community, and Mount Tabor Park is a beautiful place because of it.

If you missed out on the chaos of festival weekend this year, brave the traffic and give it a shot in 2024 to help support your hometowns and pick up some really great memories along the way.  

Cover: Rain doesn’t stop the town of Thurmont and visitors from all over from showing support to all the vendors at Colorfest.

Photos by Blair Garrett

Connie Smith sells baked goods to benefit Saint Stephen’s Church of Cascade during Sabillasville Mountain Fest.

Mount Tabor Park’s Ridgefest sells a variety of donated items to support the park.

Tammy Haycroft shows off her variety of detailed and custom pens at Sabillasville Mountain Fest.

Antietam Dairy serves up ice cream and smiles at Sabillasville Mountain Fest.

Christiana Graham (left) and Tom Peterson (right) check out some of Colorfest’s tastiest treats at Calvert Kettle Corn.


by Richard D. L. Fulton

While the Gettysburg Battlefield has always been viewed as a paranormal hotspot, stories have evolved over time addressing the multitude of spirits that inhabit the area, to the alleged discovery of a time portal that may very well exist on the fields, to UFO flyovers.

The following are just a couple of UFO encounters experienced on the battlefield of Gettysburg.

The Wheatfield Encounter

Chris Krasnai of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was one of those who encountered a UFO while touring the Gettysburg battlefield a number of years ago.

Krasnai said she and a friend were taking photographs one night in the Wheatfield, hoping to capture any evidence of paranormal activity.  Whether or not either had any luck in photographing any spirit activity, what they did encounter remains vivid in Krasnai’s mind to this day.

She stated that she was standing in the vehicle pullover area at the Wheatfield “chit-chatting” with her friend, when she “looked up and saw light in the sky.” She said, at first, she assumed it was an airplane or a helicopter, but it became clearer that it was neither due to the lack of any sound.

“It came closer and wasn’t making any sound,” she stated, adding, “Then it kind of stopped and a beam of light shined down on the Wheatfield.” The beam, she said, “got pretty close to us.”

She said the UFO finally stood still, with the beam of light still shining down, further stating, “I think it was pretty high up, but we were able to get a good look at it before it went behind the tree line and then just disappeared.”

Krasnai stated that the apparent UFO had four white lights around the outside of it, with three red lights in a triangular pattern in the center.

An Alien Abduction?

Gettysburg resident Eileen Catherine (Cathe) Curtis experienced an encounter on the field of Pickett’s Charge of a more serious incident.

Curtis had been engaged in taking photographs that night near the Virginia Monument, when she found herself immersed in a swarm of “orbs,” the entire incident having also been witnessed by her companion.

Regarding the swarm, Curtis stated that attempting to make her way through the encroaching mass of orbs was like “trying to divide the Red Sea.”

As the swarm intensified, her companion said that he could no longer see her. She had vanished among the swarm.

“All of a sudden, I was in this massive, cool (temperature-wise) ship along with little people (around four to five feet in height), with big dark eyes,” Curtis stated, adding, “They were like little kids, hugging me and touching my hands and arms.”

She said the beings stated (without moving their mouth), “We don’t take all people into our crafts. We have means of knowing who are open to us.”

Curtis said the beings indicated that contact would continue “whenever the time and place was right.” She further noted, “It seemed like I was in there for hours.” Her companion stated she had vanished for only a few minutes… maybe ten.

The Quandary of the Orbs?

The orbs (as described above) have been attributed to natural to paranormal to alien-association causes.

Adhering to only the alleged alien association of the orbs with alien activities, the orbs appear to be capable of self-generating light, and their illumination is not the result of being illuminated by the flash of a camera.

There may also be a connection to having the capability of self-generating energy, possibly having their own internal power. One or more individuals associated with the U.S. Department of Energy was a constant visitor to one website that featured the many forms that had been photographed of a variety of orbs. Were they exploring the energy capabilities of the orbs?

The quandary of the orbs remains to be solved.

A battlefield enigma. Photo Gettysburg Battlefield by E. C. Curtis, mid-2000s

Orbs on the move.  The orbs are traveling from the upper left towards the lower right.  To the right edge is the trunk of a tree.

Richard D. L. Fulton

For three days, from July 1 through July 4, 1863, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of General Robert E. Lee, engaged the Union Army of the Potomac, under the command of General George Meade, in and around the Borough of Gettysburg.

On July 3, General Lee ordered a massed assault on the center, which failed to break the Union line, and thereby ended Lee’s campaign of marching his army across Pennsylvania.

However, in spite of the carnage, one single death struck the hearts and souls of Americans across states and territories: the death of a 20-year-old female Gettysburg resident who had been caught in a crossfire in a home located in the heart of what had become a “no man’s land” on July 3.

WHO was Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade?

Wade was born in Gettysburg on May 21, 1843 to parents James Wade and Mary Anne Filby Wade, and was raised in Gettysburg. She had two sisters, Georgeanna Anna Wade McClellan and Martha Margaret Wade, as well as three brothers, Harry M. Wade, Samuel Swan Wade, and John James Wade. Martha Margaret Wade passed away after having only lived for four months.

WHAT propelled her into being regarded as a national heroine?

Jennie Wade became the only civilian killed during the bloody Battle of Gettysburg. This was fostered by the claim that she was killed while baking bread for Union soldiers during the battle.

WHERE was Jennie Wade killed?

On July 2, the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederate Army had pushed the Union troops from west of town into and through the Borough of Gettysburg and the heights that run from Culps Hill to the Rounds Tops, where the Union troops assumed a defensive “last stand” position.

Wade and her mother decided to take shelter in the home of Jennie’s sister, Georgeanna, who lived on the north side of two two-story apartments that had been created out of a house located at 548 Baltimore Street, just a short distance north of East Cemetery Hill. Jennie and her mother also felt they could assist Georgeanna with her newborn baby (Lewis Kenneth McClellan) to whom she had just given birth only a few days earlier.  Georgeanna was also alone, as her husband, John Louis McClellan, was off serving in the Union Army.

Also sheltering in the home at the same time was brother Harry M. Wade and Ike Brinkerhof (of unknown affiliation).

WHEN was Jennie Wade Killed?

It probably had become obvious by the morning of July 3 that the occupants of the house were now in a “no man’s land” that had erupted between Union-occupied East Cemetery Hill and Confederate troops trying to advance up both sides of Baltimore Street towards the Union position.

Although the house had been pelted with bullets and even had an artillery round penetrate the roof (without detonating), the group decided to remain in place within the home.

It was reported that Union snipers were posted on the second floor of the house to contest the advance of Confederates working their way up both sides of Baltimore Street.

Jennie Wade woke up early, around 8:30 a.m. on July 3 and had left the house for water and firewood. She then returned to the house and began kneading dough to make the bread, when she was struck and killed by a bullet.

HOW was Jennie Wade killed?

According to “history,” Wade was struck and killed by a bullet fired by a Confederate that penetrated two doors (the kitchen door and the bedroom door) sometime after she had returned from fetching water and firewood.

However, since the house was basically located in a crossfire, one would have to had examined the fatal bullet in order to determine its source.

WHY was Jennie Wade killed?

It should be pointed out here that Confederate soldiers had previously tried to convince the family to leave, but they chose to remain. Clearly, a fight was going to unfold as Union troops dug in on East Cemetery Hill to defend the right center of the Union line as Confederates attempted to advance and potentially capture the position.

It seems quite probable that soldiers might have mistaken the figures inside the house as enemy combatants, since it would not have made much sense to them that civilians had remained in the house after all that had been, and was still, transpiring around it.

As the fight subsided, Union soldiers, probably the sharpshooters that had been posted, removed her body to the basement via knocking a hole through the second-floor wall, carrying her body into the neighboring apartment and down to the neighbor’s side of the home into their basement, where her body remained until after the battle when she was buried in her sister’s garden.

A Confederate officer had been killed on the front porch of the McClellan side, and his fellow soldiers subsequently attempted to bring up a casket to carry the body off in, but Union fire forced them to abandon the effort. After the fighting had ceased, the casket was salvaged and was used for Wade’s burial. 

So, that’s the story… but is it the real story?

The problem is, the physical evidence does not support how she was killed, and circumstantial evidence does seem to question whether someone from the North or South had killed her. And, then there was the sudden change of a “death by friendly fire” to “death by enemy fire” that took place when her mother applied for a pension, which could not be paid unless the death was deemed due to enemy fire.

Problematic issues began with the two doors, through which the fatal bullet was alleged to have traveled, especially based on the “bullet hole” in the front door. Forget examining the front door. Photos taken over the decades, beginning soon after the war, reveal that the door was replaced three or more times with another door, and that the original door had four panes of glass (two over two) in the upper portion of the door.

It has been stated that the fatal bullet came from the Confederate-occupied, west side of Baltimore Pike, but the angle would not be right from any location on the west side to strike the door and penetrate it, along with penetrating a second door, to hit anyone in the house.

It has also been suggested that the fatal shot came from the Confederate-occupied Tannery on the east side of Baltimore Street, except that there were intervening houses located between the Tannery and the McClellan house.

The only thing the period media accounts disagreed on (they all agreed it was friendly fire) was if the fatal shot went through the door or a window. Knowing that the front door had glass windowpanes at the time, they both could have been right.  Although, for the bullets to have been fired through the upper door window at an angle to kill someone inside means that the shooter had to be on a second-floor side porch of the house adjacent to the McClellan house on the same side of the street.

Another account stated that Wade was struck by the same “volley” of bullets that killed the Confederate officer on the front porch of the McClellan house. This points to Wade having been killed by Union gunfire.

There is one final tidbit that appeared in 2007, in the form of a small package sent to the late Kenneth Rohrbaugh, then manager of the Jennie Wade House and Museum. The small package contained a bullet that had been kept by a Union soldier, found within the casket containing Wade’s body when it was being examined, before being removed to the Evergreen Cemetery.

As it turned out, the soldier himself had not removed the bullet. It was actually a family member who had examined the body (preparatory to presenting his findings before Congress) who found the loose bullet.

The author of this article—a former Civil War relic dealer—was asked by Rohrbaugh to examine the bullet and identify it. It was a .577 caliber Union Minie’ ball that had lost its velocity, but still had enough force that the imprint of Wade’s muslin-clothing was still embedded in its nose.

Not only had the bullet established the source of the gunfire but had also established that Wade had been struck by two bullets, one spent round and the fatal one.

The tell-tale bullet, one of two that struck Jennie Wade. (Photo by and from the personal collection of R.D.L. Fulton. Initially published in The Gettysburg Times, August 11, 2007)

A 1904 view of the McClellan side of the home where Wade was killed.

Note the four glass panes at the top of the door.

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

You read the title. You know what we’re going to discuss: Colorfest. Although the rain that Saturday didn’t do us any favors, the following day, the sky was clear again, and it overlooked the vibrant streets bustling with life. Overnight, it seemed like our cozy town of Thurmont became a crowded city.

This year, I struggled to pick a topic regarding Colorfest to write about. I wanted to capture a meaningful essence of the event, so I reflected on what Colorfest made me, as a consumer, think about. Initially, I considered writing about Colorfest’s food options and how they came to be; however, as I gazed at the long lines and busy workers, I decided I’d rather not be a nuisance and hold up the lines with my interview questions.

I continued to walk around, searching for inspiration. I noticed friendly art vendors, standing gleefully by their pieces and initiating conversations with shoppers. This heartwarming sight brought me back to a personality quiz I took online, where one of my defining characteristics was “sees the commercial value in art.” That must mean some people don’t see the commercial value in art, which was a foreign concept to me. Settling on that train of thought, I decided that’s what I wanted this month’s article to be about. I wanted to look into art and its contributions to the world, especially since Colorfest unites so many skilled artists and craftspeople every year.

Even from a strictly economic standpoint, art is undeniably valuable. According to the Statista Research Department, in 2022, the global art market value reached 67.8 billion dollars—the highest number in the past 15 years. Surprisingly, the United States accounted for a whopping 45 percent—30.2 billion dollars—of the world’s art market, followed by the United Kingdom with 18 percent. This makes sense, considering a study conducted by Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report, which found that 41 of the world’s 50 most costly fine art lots were sold in New York in 2022, leading to a remarkable recovery of our art market from the pandemic.

Popularity-wise, art wins, too. Market research company YouGov concluded that around 80 percent of Americans have art in their homes. Of that percentage, over half of them have at least photographs or paintings displayed in their houses. Interestingly, older citizens—those 55 and older—are more likely to frame their artwork before hanging it on their walls.

Art’s emotional influences prompt people to purchase, analyze, and create art in the first place. For instance, with, say, abstract art, it’s not always so much about the artist’s skill as it is about what the audience feels when they observe these artworks. Numbers and statistics won’t do these impacts justice, so I interviewed a few artists I visited at Colorfest.

First, I stopped by Salvaged Suncatchers, where I chatted with Mary about her business and motivations. “I make suncatchers and ornaments from repurposed materials, like old jewelry, chandeliers, antiques, chains, and hooks from thrift stores,” she explained. She adds an artistic touch to material, from loose beads to leftover fishing wire that otherwise would’ve been forgotten. “They catch light inside or outside, wherever anyone needs some extra sparkle.” (Some of Salvaged Suncatchers’ products are shown below.)

When I asked what impels her to create, she replied that putting together suncatchers is therapeutic. “Stress relief to take my mind off the rest of the world,” she revealed. “I’m also environmentally motivated to keep material out of the landfill because I work with the environment. Material like broken jewelry ends up there a lot of the time. I enjoy the thrifting aspect of it, too, and I enjoy sharing art to brighten others’ spaces.”

Regarding some of the invisible impacts of art, she shared that art “brings uniqueness to our world. Each piece of art is original and one-of-a-kind—no two of the suncatchers I make are the same. Art is hard to re-create—there are no identical paintings or photographs. The world would be empty without original art; a lot of what you see in T.J. Maxx and other shops is predictable. I like observing art from others’ spaces to see the differences between what they enjoy.” You can learn more about Mary’s store via her Salvaged Suncatchers Facebook page.

Additionally, I visited Because Science, which combines science and art to make science-inspired gifts. They offer a wide range of products, from stationery to keychains and other novelties. “We make art out of recycled circuit boards and other computer components to give it a second life. The colors are original—we don’t change the colors of the material we use. We find art within the boards,” the vendor described.

Much like Salvaged Suncatchers, Because Science emphasized the therapy and sustainability factors behind their art: “[I make art] to keep my hands and mind busy. The main goal is to minimize the electronic waste that ends up in landfills and to find a better second life for these electronics—most of it just sits in basements. We have e-waste programs in our store, where people can bring in their waste to be repurposed. Electronic waste is a lot worse than other types of waste, so we work toward bringing awareness and creating unique art.”

Lastly, Because Science offered insight into an underappreciated attribute of art. “If anything makes you stop and think about perspectives other than your own, then that has a lot of meaning. It centers you and highlights how big the world really is outside of your bubble. Things may seem one way and be another.” If you’d like to learn more about Because Science, visit their store in Washington, D.C., or on their website at

Evidently, there’s a lot to be gained from admiring and producing art, and there’s a lot to browse at Colorfest! Now that it’s November, other festive gatherings are coming up, such as the Thurmont Christmas Market Craft and Vendor Show on November 18-19 at the Thurmont Event Complex.

In October, there were several festivals to enjoy, such as the Catoctin Furnace’s Fallfest on October 13-14, Sabillasville’s Mountain Fest Car & Truck Show on October 14, and Fort Ritchie’s Fall Fest on October 21.

Here’s a quick rundown of what happened: The Catoctin Furnace provided blacksmithing demonstrations, kids activities, and apple butter sales; Sabillasville hosted food trucks, local vendors, carnival games, and more—for free; and Fort Ritchie had hay rides, local vendors, and a farmers market, amongst other sources of entertainment.

We live in a cozy town, and there’s a lot to be thankful for here! I hope everyone has had a great start to the autumn season and enjoys a wonderful Thanksgiving

Alumni and guests met at the Emmitsburg Ambulance Building on October 21, 2023, to renew friendships and share memories. Approximately 130 people were present. Dinner was served by Keystone Restaurant. Bill Wivell offered the blessing.

The program began with prayer and the pledge. President Alan Brauer recognized Veterans and public service personnel. Secretary Connie Baker Fisher’s minutes and treasurer Sam Valentine’s report were approved.

Assistant Secretary Vickie Valentine Frushour shared the names of the five scholarship winners: Lily Clare Bingman, Rianna Chaney, Sheridan Chaney, Savannah Morris, and Mackenizie Orndorff. She introduced Savannah and Mackenize to the groups. A short introduction was shared on each of the scholars.

During the business meeting, President Brauer brought up the possibility of moving an evening dinner banquet to a luncheon, so the aging group would not have to drive after dark. The audience was asked to think about it, and the topic would be revisited at next year’s banquet.

Three copies of “Emmitsburg High School in The Emmitsburg Chronicle” were given as a result of a drawing.

Historian Joyce Meadows Bruchey acknowledged the honor classes: 1948, 1953, 1958, 1963, and 1968. Each graduate introduced themselves. A drawing for each class resulted in a person from that class winning a $25.00 gift card. Bruchey then shared information about the class and its year.

There was no one present from the class of 1948, the last class to only attend 11 years. Mrs. Leary, a favorite first-grade teacher, began her teaching career. Future Farmers of America had 33 members, reflecting the strong agricultural community.

Class of 1953 graduated the year when WFMD radio station came on the air, and Route 15, between Emmitsburg and Thurmont, began improvements. Emmitsburg Community Show was held on October 31. This class was the first class to graduate in the new auditorium. Currently, the old school auditorium was being converted to two classrooms where town offices are located today. Discussion began on the need for a kindergarten.

The class of 1958 was the smallest of the honored classes—11 students, with 3 boys and 8 girls. The girls’ basketball team had a successful season. Christmas break ran from December 20 to January 6. That winter saw two big snow storms. The one in mid-February closed school for most of the week for rural children. The mid-March storm was reported as one of the worst in a quarter century. All power lines were down and no help was available from surrounding areas because the blizzard impacted those states as well.

The class of 1963 saw the introduction of zip codes and polio vaccinations. Land negotiations began for the new Catoctin High School. Christmas assembly presented the Prince of Peace, with caroling in the main hall to start the school day.

The last class to graduate from Emmitsburg High was the class of 1968. It was also the largest class. The junior and senior classes were so large they were divided into two sections. Seven new teachers joined the faculty. The class recognized the custodian, cafeteria staff, and bus drivers who had served the school through the years. The boards of education were debating introducing sex education.

At the end of her presentation, Bruchey shared that the class of 1928 had only eight members, and not only had they created a 40-page yearbook, but they printed an entire issue of The Chronicle. At the class’ 54th reunion, seven of the eight attended. Next year, the alumni will celebrate its 100th anniversary, and may the class of 1928 be an inspiration for attendance.

The meeting was closed with a reading of the current year’s obituaries by Phyliss Chatlos Kelly, and a moment of silence was observed. President Brauer closed the evening by thanking all who helped make the evening successful.

The last and largest class to graduate from Emmitsburg High School was the class of 1968: (from left) Lena Wastler Stull, George Baker, Dennis Valentine, Robert Saylor, Wanda Meadows Valentine, Terry Maddox, Frances Wagerman Black, and Dale Valentine.

George Kuhn, who was the last boys’ coach at Emmitsburg High School, shared his enjoyable experience while coaching there for five years.

2023 Colorfest’s remarkable turnout; Photo by Helen Xia

by James Rada, Jr.


Colorfest Services Approved

Shentel Will Offer Fiber Optic Service

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently approved a franchise agreement with Shentel. The agreement, similar to the one the town has with Comcast, will provide the town with a 3 percent franchise fee. Shentel will be allowed to build a fiber-optic network in town that will allow residents another option for high-speed internet, television, and telephone service. The service speed is expected to be faster than residents currently get. “We don’t have the speed that they’re talking about right here, right now,” Mayor John Kinnaird said.

The commissioners approved the agreement 3-1, with Bill Blakeslee voting against it and Wes Hamrick abstaining.

Hammaker Hills Phase 2 Documents Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently unanimously approved the homeowner’s association documents and easements needed for construction on phase 2 of Hammaker Hills. This will be 22 additional single-family homes added to the existing 38 homes approved in phase 1 of the subdivision.

WWTP Roof to be Replaced

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a bid from P.J. Roofing in Frederick to replace the roofs on the two blower buildings at the wastewater treatment plant for $21,725. It was one of three bids and came in significantly lower than expected.

Police Commissioner Candidates Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners unanimously approved re-appointing three members of the Thurmont Police Commission: Greg Seymoure, Shawn Martyak, and Cathy Maddox. The commission is an advisory body to the Thurmont Board of Commissioners on matters relating to the Thurmont Police Department.

Colorfest Permits

A week before Colorfest, the number of permits issued for the annual festival exceeded those issued in 2022. Thurmont Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick told the commissioners that 677 permits had been issued for Colorfest, bringing in $49,510, with more expected to be issued in the last week before the show. In 2022, 568 permits were issued, generating $49,480. Humerick said he would have a recap of how Colorfest went for the town at a future meeting.

Road Paving Approved

The mayor and commissioners approved a bid for $314,067 from C. J. Miller, LLC, of Westminster, to mill and asphalt a set of roads in Thurmont. The roads are Blue Ridge Drive, Locust Drive, Weil Drive, Hammaker Street, East Hammaker Street, and West Hammaker Street. “You could throw a rock and where it landed on a road would probably need to be replaced,” said Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick.

The project is part of on-going road repairs the town is doing. This work is expected to be done by November 22.

Impact Fees Increased

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to increase impact fees for new construction in the town. The town adopted the Construction Cost Index proposed fees, except for the sewer impact fee, which was increased to $1,000.

The report on the impact fees conducted by Smart Utility Management found that, “Due to the significant rise in inflation/costs, particularly over the past three years since the pandemic, the Town has expressed a need to update these fees for new Water & Sewer applications to be based [on] today’s costs.”

New construction in town must pay a water connection fee, water impact fee, sewer connection fee, wastewater impact fee, sewer pump station fee, roads impact fee, and parks impact fee. Impact and connection fees for a new home now total $24,320.


Davis and Turnquist Take Office

County Clerk swore in Frank Davis as the new mayor of Emmitsburg, and Mayor Davis swore in Valerie Turnquist as a new town commissioner during the October town meeting. Davis and Turnquist replace former Mayor Don Briggs and former Commissioner Joe Ritz, III, both of whom chose not to run for re-election.

Davis said he would take a team approach to leading the town. “We either win or lose as one,” he said.

Town Honors Mayor Briggs

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a proclamation honoring Mayor Don Briggs for his 12 years of service to the town during the October town meeting. Briggs chose not to run for re-election during the September town election.

“Your heart is with this town,” said Commissioner Amy Boehman-Pollitt.

Briggs was first elected in 2011 and served four consecutive terms as mayor. During his time as mayor, he promoted projects such as “ADA-compliant sidewalks, ADA playground, numerous green initiatives (LG Sonic, EV chargers, solar panels), construction of a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant, as well as welcoming many new businesses.” This helped the town receive awards that included Sustainable Maryland, Tree City USA, MML Banner City, and Maryland Green Registry Leadership Award.

“I love the town,” Briggs said. “I know you all love the town. It’s in good hands.”

Some Water Fund Relief

Mayor Don Briggs announced during the October Emmitsburg town meeting that the town had gotten approval to use up to $300,000 from federal American Rescue Plan Act money that towns received to help offset revenue losses during the COVID crisis to add to the water fund operating revenues.

Briggs noted that the money just “scratched the surface,” but it will help offset some of the revenue needed for the water. It might also be able to lower the 36 percent increase in the FY24 water rates. The commissioners will discuss it during the November meeting.

McNair Property Applicants Need to Initiate Annexation Request

Peter Koutsos would like to have the 23-acre Rodney McNair property, northeast of town, to initiate the annexation application for the property instead of the applicant. The property is within the town’s growth boundary. Town Attorney Clark Adams said this is unusual. The commissioners voted to initiate the request. Koutsos can request that the property be annexed, but he will have to go through the process of filing the application.

Town Gets Parking Meter Grant

The Town of Emmitsburg received a grant from the USDA for parking meter replacement in town. The grant of $31,100 required a $33,900 town match to replace 125 parking meters with 80 new dual payment (coin and card) meters on Main Street and three new multi-space meters at the community pool.


Mayor Frank Davis

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be sitting here writing the “Mayor’s Column” for our local newspaper. I’m sure Mrs. Richards, my English teacher, would tell you the same thing. But here it goes.

My first few weeks in office have been very busy. I have spent a lot of time in the town office, learning the daily routines of our staff and working my way around the office. We held our first staff meeting with all town employees, and the meeting was recorded and sent to the town commissioners. Even though they were unable to attend in person, I felt it was important they heard the message I had for the staff. Transparency is my top priority. Over the next few weeks, I will be meeting with each staff member individually to learn more about their responsibilities and to gather ideas from them on how we can improve our operations.

While I will do my best to be available for you every day, Thursdays will be my designated “Office Day.” I will be available to meet with you to discuss concerns, listen to ideas, or just to have a cup of coffee. You are free to stop in anytime, but it would be great if you could call the office and schedule a designated time to meet.

The water rates are a major concern of many of our citizens and businesses. The town staff and commissioners are exploring options to relieve some of this financial burden from the taxpayers. One of Mayor Briggs’ last announcements in office was that funds have been found to assist with relief for the water fund. This will be discussed and, hopefully, passed by the commissioners at our November meeting.

There are several openings on committees and boards, and we need your help filling the open slots. I also plan to establish several new committees to gather more community input and to review many codes and ordinances that need updating. Please visit the town website and Facebook page to get vacancy announcements.

With winter just around the corner, it is important for you to remember that all town streets are now snow emergency routes. This means that when the Snow Emergency Plan is activated by the State of Maryland, all vehicles must be moved from roadways. We are working with area businesses and organizations to provide parking in their lots to assist citizens who don’t have off-street parking during snowstorms. More information will be forthcoming.

While there are several pressing issues that need attention, be assured we are working to resolve them. With that, I ask to please be courteous to our staff. If for some reason they are unable to help you with your concerns or problems, please ask to speak to me. If you need to vent to someone, let it be me. I have worked in a firehouse for years; I have thick skin and can handle it.

In closing, I want to thank the citizens for trusting me to lead our great town, and I will work hard every day not to disappoint you. Please feel free to contact me at, and I will do my best to respond within the same business day.From Lib and me, thank you.

Mayor John Kinnaird

Fall is upon us, and with it, comes colder weather and changing daylight hours. I ask that everyone be extra careful when driving in and around Thurmont by watching out for school kids coming and going to school. Many of our kids are out before dawn to catch a bus or to walk to school. They are crossing our streets and may not take the time to look both ways before stepping off the curb. On streets without sidewalks and on rural county roads, many kids are forced to walk along the edges of the roads. Your extra attention will be greatly appreciated.

The water and wastewater infrastructure work on North Church Street is now underway. Traffic will be impacted Monday through Thursday as the crews replace water lines and wastewater lines from the railroad bridge out to near Catoctin High School. There are flaggers in place to direct traffic, with special attention being paid to school traffic in the mornings and afternoon. I would encourage you to take different routes if you need to get through the area. During the construction phase, one lane will be closed throughout the day. At the end of each day, the roadway will be patched and both lanes reopened. Occasionally, both lanes may be closed for short times, as equipment is moved or construction involves both lanes. Once this project is completed, the State Highway Administration will be replacing North Church Street.

Thanksgiving is coming on Thursday, November 23. Karen and I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving with friends and family. On this day, our Pilgrim ancestors first enjoyed a communal meal as thanks for the well-being and success of their community. As part of our modern-day Thanksgiving, I ask everyone to consider others less fortunate than us and help support the Thurmont Food Bank and other organizations. By supporting the Thurmont Food Bank with a cash donation or with a donation of non-perishable foods, you can help guarantee a wholesome Thanksgiving meal for many of our families, friends, and neighbors. The food bank is always looking for volunteers to help—even just a few hours—with sorting donations or helping to distribute goods. It will give you a sense of making a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors.

Cold weather means we will be wearing jackets, hats, boots, gloves, and other cold-weather clothing. This year, when you start pulling out your cold-weather clothing, be sure to consider making a donation of extra jackets, sweaters, hats, gloves, and boots to the Thurmont Clothes Closet. The Clothes Closet will distribute your wearable warm clothing to those that may not be able to afford warm clothing. This is especially important for children; warm clothing helps kids enjoy school, outdoor play, and can let them be more comfortable at home if the thermostat needs to be set lower. Be on the lookout for opportunities to help schools fulfill the wishes of students for new clothing through anonymous Santa and Christmas present support. The kids will appreciate the warmth and love that warm clothes can bring them.

Thurmont just completed another Gateway to the Cure month-long event to help raise funds and awareness for Breast Cancer research and patient care. Our events support the Patty Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund at Frederick Health. The funds raised are used locally to help provide research and patient support for Frederick Heath patients. Each of us knows a family member or a friend who has been impacted by breast cancer. We can make a difference by spreading the message of breast cancer awareness. Sadly, cancer in many forms touches too many families across our community, state, nation, and countries around the world. Sometimes, it seems like cancer can be overpowering, but today, new treatments and a better understanding of the causes of cancer have greatly improved the outlook for many patients.

November has just begun, and I am now going to remind you about upcoming Christmas events in Thurmont. We will be having our annual Christmas Tree Lighting event on Saturday, November 25, at the Mechanicstown Square Park. Then, on Saturday, December 2, we will be at the Guardian Hose Company for Christmas in Thurmont.

Comments, concerns, or compliments? I can be reached at 301-606-9458 or at


Burgess Heath Barnes

Happy Thanksgiving. It’s hard to believe that we are less than two months away from the end of the year. I hope you enjoy time with family and friends this Thanksgiving. Always remember the ones who do not have extra funds or family during this time. If you can volunteer at a place in the community providing Thanksgiving to the less fortunate, I encourage it. I can promise you it is very rewarding.

Our annual Woodsboro Days festival on October 14-15 was a great success. Saturday saw many yard sales around town, with the largest group of them being at the Woodsboro Lutheran Church, where they also had food sales. It was great seeing so many out in the community. The weather on Sunday was great for the 3rd annual music festival in the park on the band shell that we had built three years ago. It was also the first year we had electricity to the stage—the last two years, we ran on generators. All the bands, food trucks, and vendors were wonderful. Special thanks to Billie Fulmer and the local Boy Scouts, who, once again, helped with parking. We are already looking forward to next year’s event. 

Also on October 14, we held the grand opening of our skate park. This project was made possible by a suggestion from town resident Ben Marshall to the council last year. At the time, it seemed like a pipe dream, with the cost of the project and the lack of funds, but myself and former Commissioner Dana Crum (particularly) fought hard for the grant to complete the project and were successful. Now we have a wonderful skate park for the community. Thank you, Ben and Dana for your hard work, and Matt Arment from Arment Concrete for constructing it.

In addition, on October 14, the Woodsboro Volunteer Fire Department had an open house that several enjoyed going to.

As many noticed, water bills for this quarter went out late. This was due to 12 residents not having completed the water meter change upgrade yet. Billing could not be completed until all were updated. The town had to spend extra money and bring in a new plumber on October 20 to complete these final 12, as the contractor’s time in town was only for the month of September. We have finally completed the upgrade. This will make billing much smoother. In January, we will be able to start taking electronic payments, which has been a request for a long time now.

The latest town hall update is that the permits have all been approved by the county. Our architect has listed for the contractors to bid, and we must keep bids open by law for 30 days. Once the 30 days have expired, the council will select a contractor. We will open the bidding process any day now, and we are looking forward to the next step in finally building Woodsboro’s first town hall.

Halloween trick-or-treating was held on October 31 in town. It was nice seeing so many children and families out enjoying the evening.

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

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164. Woodsboro Town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, Planning and Zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month, as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. John’s United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

Madison and Jordyn Ohler at the 67th Annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show. Jordyn was the 2023 Reserve Champion, Market Beef.

The following were the Champion and Reserve Champion winners at the 67th annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show held September 8-10, 2023 at Catoctin High School in Thurmont.  Each Champion and Reserve Champion winner will receive additional premium money which will be mailed by November 15, 2023. Thurmont’s Bollinger’s Restaurant will provide a $10.00 gift certificate to each Department Champion and Emmitsburg’s Carleo Pizza will provide a $5.00 gift certificate to each Reserve Department Champion.

Champion & Reserve Champion Winners

The following were the Champion and Reserve Champion winners at the 67th annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show held September 8-10, 2023 at Catoctin High School in Thurmont.  Each Champion and Reserve Champion winner will receive additional premium money which will be mailed by November 15, 2023. Thurmont’s Bollinger’s Restaurant will provide a $10.00 gift certificate to each Department Champion and Emmitsburg’s Carleo Pizza will provide a $5.00 gift certificate to each Reserve Department Champion.

Fresh Fruits: Champion—Kylie Robertson (Concord Grapes); Reserve Champion—Kylie Robertson (Sugar Giant Peaches); Fresh Vegetables: Champion—Kara Wolf (Green Cabbage); Reserve Champion—Edward Hahn (Onions); Home Products Display: Champion—Charlotte Dutton; Reserve Champion—Angie Matthews; Canned Fruit: Champion—Carolyn Hahn (Applesauce); Reserve Champion—Donald Stanley (Other – Golden Nectar); Canned Vegetables: Champion—Carolyn Hahn (Carrots); Reserve Champion—Carrie Bankard (BBQ Sauce); Jellies & Preserves: Champion—Melissa Kinna (Peach Peel Jelly); Reserve Champion—Angie Mathews (Apple Butter); Pickles: Champion—Pam Long (Pepper Relish); Reserve Champion—Bridgette Kinna (Catsup); Meat (Canned): Champion—Pam Kaas (Venison); Reserve Champion—Pam Kaas (Canned Beef); Home Cured Meats: Champion—Catoctin FFA Alumni (Country Ham); Reserve Champion—Catoctin FFA Alumni (Country Ham).

Baked Products – Adult Division: Cake: Champion—Cheryl Lenhart (Other Cake – Yellow Cake with Raspberry Filling/White Icing); Reserve Champion—Cheryl Lenhart (Coconut Cake); Honorable Mention Cake—Burall Brothers Scholarship—Maxine Troxell (Devil’s Food Cake); Bread: Champion—Deborah Howd (Bread – Other); Reserve Champion—Maxine Troxell (Bread, Other – Rye/Pumpernickel Swirl); Pie: Champion—Maxine Troxell (Raspberry Pie); Reserve Champion—Maxine Troxell (Pecan Pie); Sugar Free Baked Products: Champion—Joyce Kline (Sugar Free Cake); Reserve Champion—Shirley Greene (Bread, Other (Cinnamon); Gluten Free Baked Products: Champion—Deborah Howd (Gluten Free Bread – Babka); Reserve Champion—Cheryl Lenhart (Chocolate Chip Cookies); Misc. Baked Product: Champion—Cheryl Lenhart (Chocolate Cupcakes); Reserve Champion—Linda Seiss (Peanut Butter Fudge).

Baked Products – Youth Division (Ages 11-18): Cake: Champion (In Honor and Memory of Mearl McCleaf)—Abby Harrington (Chocolate Cake); Reserve Champion—Masyn Sanders (Pumpkin Cake with Buttercream Icing); Misc. Baked Product: Champion—Caroline Clark (Apple Pie); Reserve Champion—Masyn Sanders (Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread).

Baked Products – Junior Division (Ages 10 & Under): Cake: Champion—Lexie Cox (Chocolate Cake); Reserve Champion—Ryleigh Ensor (Carrot Pineapple Cake); Misc. Baked Product: Champion—Jeremiah Matthews (Candy Mocha Truffles); Reserve Champion—Jeremiah Matthews (Other, Hard Candy).

Fabric and Fiber Arts Department: Overall Dept. Champion—Heather Wivell (Child Patchwork Quilt – Hungry Catapiller);

Overall Dept. Reserve Champion—Preston Clark (Sewn Item – Men’s Coats – Vest); Crocheting: Champion—Shirley Greene (Child’s Afghan); Reserve Champion—Penni Wiltrout (Misc. Crocheted Animal/Doll); Cross Stitch: Champion—Connie Miller (Cross Stitch); Reserve Champion—Leah Souris (Cross stitch picture); Crewel, Embroidery & Needlepoint: Champion—Shirley Greene (Embroidered Pillows); Reserve Champion—Carolyn Hahn (Christmas Decorations – Plastic); Knitting: Champion—Elizabeth Hoover (Decoration – Patty Pan Squash); Reserve Champion—Phyliss Ecker (Adult Sweater); Quilts & Quilted Items: Champion—Heather Wivell (Child Patchwork Quilt); Reserve Champion—Deb Long (Quilt Sampler); Sewn Items: Champion—Preston Clark (Vest); Reserve Champion—Caroline Clark (Jacket); Misc. Fiber Items: Champion—Charlotte Dutton (Fiber item – Bunny Doll); Reserve Champion—Tracy Lewis (Hand Woven Twill Wool Scarf).

Flowers & Plants: Champion—Linda Seiss (Holiday Silk Arrangement); Reserve Champion—Cathy Ligsay (Cut Herbs).

Fine Arts: Champion—Bryne Lee (Pastel Painting); Reserve Champion—Don Brooks (Acrylic Painting); Arts & Crafts: Champion—Bill Stottlemyer (Wood Craft); Reserve Champion—Charlotte Dutton (Rock Painting).

Color Photography: Champion—Mike Miller (People-Posed); Reserve Champion—Debbie Wiles (Landscape – Sanibel Island); Black & White Photography: Champion—Mike Miller (People-Posed); Reserve Champion—Deborah Howd (Animals/Birds/Reptiles).

Corn: Champion—Mary Ellen Clark (Best Stalk of Corn); Reserve Champion—Jim Kaas (Hybrid Corn); Small Grain & Seeds: Champion—Preston Clark (Shelled Corn); Reserve Champion—Mattee Lambert (Triticale); Eggs: Champion—Ashley Atkins (Brown Eggs); Reserve Champion—Ashley Atkins (Blue Eggs); Nuts: Champion—Edward Hahn (English Walnuts); Reserve Champion—Kevin Long (Black Walnuts);

Rabbits: Champion—Bailey Wolf (Breeding Female); Reserve Champion—Laura Dutton (Breeding Rabbit & offspring, 1 female); Poultry:

Champion—Laura Dutton (Farm Exhibit – 1 rooster and 1 hen); Reserve Champion—Laura Dutton (Poultry Exhibit – 1 rooster); Dairy Cattle: Champion—Gavin Valentine (Ayrshire Winter Calf); Reserve Champion—Kiley Little (Holstein Calf); Dairy Goats: Champion—Laura Dutton (3 year old & under 5); Reserve Champion—Tyrone VanEcho (2 year old); Hay: Champion – Mary Ellen Clark (Alfalfa Hay); Reserve Champion—Rodman Myers (Orchard Grass Hay); Straw: Champion—Rodman Myers (Barley Straw); Reserve Champion—Caroline Clark – (Wheat Straw);

Junior Department (Ages 10 & Under): Champion—Jack Campbell (Eggs, 1 dozen); Reserve Champion—Emma Santos (Misc. Craft – Sock Craft); Youth Department (Ages 11-18): Champion—Makayla Comer (Patriotic Photo – Color); Reserve Champion—Grace Mannix (Misc. Craft. – Reese Peanut Butter Cup); Beef: Champion—Kadence Offutt; Reserve Champion—Jordyn Ohler; Beef Heifers: Champion—Makayla Comer, Reserve Champion—James Hewitt II; Sheep: Champion—Peyton Davis; Reserve Champion—Chloe Keilholtz; Ridenour Lamb—Caroline Clark; Swine: Champion—Joshua Wivell; Reserve Champion—Peighton Rhinehart; Market Goat: Champion—Chloe Glass; Reserve Champion —Alyssa Costa; Decorated Animal: Champion—Brayden Whetzel; Reserve Champion—Kiley Little.

Dave Harman (at podium) hosts the 67th Annual Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show’s opening ceremonies held on Friday night, September 8, at Catoctin High School. Also shown are Community Organizations Flag Ceremony participants John Hoke (left) of Thurmont’s Acacia Lodge #155 and Tim Bentz (center) of Thurmont’s Guardian Hose Fire Company.

Emmitsburg Mayor Donald Briggs (left) announces the 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador, Caroline Clark.

Maxine Troxell, Champion Pie Baker, holds her Raspberry Pie, standing with Caroline Clark (2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador) and buyer Josh Ruby of Forever After All Farms, who had the winning $350 bid which benefits the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show. Josh Ruby was also the auctioneer for the annual Baked Goods Auction.

Photo by John Kempisty

Pet Show Winners

The 2023 Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show Pet Show was held on Saturday, September 9 at Catoctin High School. There were 17 exhibitors who exhibited 46 pets at the Community Show. Judges were Mary Ann Harbaugh and Dr. Ray Ediger who both did an excellent job judging all of the pets.  Many thanks to the Pet Show Committee of Dave Harman, Dave Johnston, and Kristen Myers, who all helped with the event. The Grand Champion winner received a $25.00 gift card donated by Tractor Supply Company, and the Reserve Grand Champion received a $15.00 gift card, donated by The Dirty Dawg. Each participant received treats for their animals and free ice cream cone wooden coins that were donated by Roy Rogers. 

Winners were: Cat with Prettiest Eyes: 1st— Heather Rice, 2nd—Matt Rice; Cat with Longest Whiskers: 1st—Matt Rice (1½ inches); Cutest Cat: 1st— Matt Rice, 2nd—Heather Rice; Smallest Pet: 1st—Jada Morgan, 2nd—Deborah Boisvert, 3rd—Kelly Slaughter; Dog with Waggiest Tail: 1st—Morgan Kolb, 2nd—Kelly Slaughter, 3rd—Deborah Boisvert; Prettiest Dog (25 lbs. & under): 1st—Will Valentine, 2nd—Kelly Slaughter, 3rd—Vanessa Wilhide; Prettiest Dog (26 lbs. and over): 1st—Kara Wolf, 2nd—Jan Tyler, 3rd—Janelle James; Best Costumed Pet: 1st—Will Valentine, 2nd—Savannah Cregger,  2nd—Morgan Kolb, 3rd—Brielle Green; Pet with Most Spots: 1st—Nikolai Poffenberger, 2nd—Matt Rice, 3rd—Brielle Green; Largest Pet (by height): 1st—Jan Tyler, 2nd—Brielle Green, 3rd—Kelly Slaughter, Honorable Mention—Nikolai Poffenberger; Most Unusual Pet: 1st—Nikolai Poffenberger, 2nd—Jada Morgan, 3rd—Heather Rice; Best Trained Pet: 1st—Janelle James, 2nd—Denise Mosher, 3rd—Kelly Slaughter; Grand Champion—Will Valentine with his dog; Reserve Grand Champion—Deborah Boisvert with her dog.

Abby Harrington (second from left), Youth Grand Champion Cake Baker holds her Chocolate Cake standing with Caroline Clark (left), 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador, and buyers Caleb McCleaf and Craig McCleaf of Mountain Gate Family Restaurant who had the winning $1,200 bid. The Youth Division (Ages 11-18) Grand Champion Cake is In Honor & Memory of Mearl McCleaf and benefits three youth-related funds: Thurmont Grange Scholarship, Catoctin FFA’s National FFA Convention Trip, and Catoctin FFA Alumni & Supporters Scholarship.

Caroline Clark (left), 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador, stands with Lexie Cox (middle), Junior Grand Champion Cake Baker, holding her Chocolate Cake with buyer Former Delegate Daniel Cox. The Junior Division (Ages 10 & Under) Champion Cake, which sold for $350, benefits the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Food Banks.

Cheryl Lenhart (second from left), Grand Champion Cake Baker, holds her Yellow Cake with Raspberry Filling & White Icing, standing with Caroline Clark (left), 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador, and Mountain Gate Family Restaurant buyers, Craig McCleaf and Caleb McCleaf. The $1,050 winning bid for the Champion Cake benefits the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show.

Catoctin Mtn. Log Sawing Contest Winners

The 38th Annual Catoctin Mtn. Log Sawing Contest was held on Sunday, September 10, with the winners as follows: Women’s Team: 1st—Caroline Clark and Peyton Davis (5.31.80); 2nd—Analese Abruzzese and Ella Burrier (12.59.72); 3rd—McKayla Comer and Alyssa Costa (17.54.43); Men’s Team: 1st—Cadin Valentine and Gavin Valentine (6.07.03); 2nd—Brayden Whetzel and Gavin Valentine (6.22.17); 3rd—Cadin Valentine and Dylan Ridinger (6.28.93); Men and Women’s Team: 1st—Mark Valentine and Jessica Valentine (1.42.82); 2nd—Elizabeth Schubel and Quamari Willard (3.28.21); 3rd—Quamari Willard and Analese Abruzzese (4.20.96); Children’s Team: 1st—Garrett Troxell and Myles Kuhn (9.06.33); 2nd—Trenon Latham and Preston Clark (10.14.31); 3rd—Elizabeth Schubel and Jason Green (15.10.25).

Cheryl Lenhart (second from left), Reserve Champion Coconut Cake Baker, holds her winning cake, standing with Caroline Clark (left), 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador, and buyers, John and Maggie Doll, with a $750 bid, along with their granddaughters, Eva and Lyla Doll. The proceeds from this cake benefit the Catoctin FFA Alumni & Supporters.

Brayden Whetzel’s sow & seven five-week-old Crossbred piglets were enjoyed by all ages at the Community Show. Brayden is pictured on the right, showing one of the piglets to one of the many visitors in the Agriculture Center area.

The Grand Champion Swine was a 250-pound Crossbred hog, owned by Joshua Wivell, and purchased for $2,500 by Wolfe Auctions. Joshua’s parents are Justin and Brittney Wivell, and sister, Addie. Joshua’s grandparents are Phil and Shelly Wivell and Andy and Trish Hahn.

Winners of the 42nd Annual Robert Kaas Memorial Horseshoe Pitching Contest on Sunday, September 10 (from left): (back row) 2nd place team of Richard Brown and Donald Kaas, Sr.; (middle row) 1st place team of Johnny Buhrman and Carl Willard; (kneeling) one of the 3rd place winning team members of Gary Hoffmaster and David Miller.

Reserve Champion Bread (from left):  Caroline Clark, 2023-24 Catoctin FFA Ambassador; Maxine Troxell, Reserve Champion Bread Baker (Rye/Pumpernickel Swirl Bread); and buyers, Chris and Susan Windsor of Windsor Customs LLC, who had the winning $75 bid, which benefits the Thurmont Grange.

In Memory of Patricia Ann (Myers) Johnston, Community Show Historian, who passed away in May 2023, one of her sister Cheryl’s 1st place cakes—a Black Walnut Cake—was auctioned to benefit the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show’s Improvement Fund. A grand total of $7,000 was raised from many community citizens and businesses! Patty’s family members (from left): brother Bobby and his wife, Karen; husband, David Johnston, holding the Black Walnut Cake; dad Rodman Myers, and sisters Cheryl and Andrea.

The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show is the largest in the State of Maryland. The strength of the show and the strength of agriculture in Northern Frederick County stands on the shoulders of the volunteers who proudly teach and carry that heritage forward from generation to generation. The Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show is sponsored by the Thurmont Grange, Catoctin FFA Chapter, Catoctin FFA Alumni & Supporters, the Maryland State Grange, and the Maryland Agricultural Fair Board. This annual Community Show comes together each year through the efforts of hundreds of dedicated volunteers and has been bringing the Thurmont and Emmitsburg communities together since 1957!

The Untold Story

by Richard D. L. Fulton

There have been countless stories of ghosts on the Gettysburg Battlefield, within and beyond the national park boundaries, and there has been a seemingly endless array of books and documentaries based on the myriad number of ghostly encounters. 

But not all of the stories have been told, and not all of them relate to the Civil War Battle of 1863. 

Below are a few of these “untold stories.”

Did spirits from the past inspire the establishment of a historic wayside in Gettysburg?

In the mid-2000s, Eileen Catherine (Cathe) Curtis, star of America’s Most Haunted Town and America’s Most Haunted Inns—and subsequently guest medium at the Jennie Wade Museum for a number of  years—was strolling down Baltimore Street with a friend when they encountered two young men attired in what appeared to be vintage Marine uniforms.

Cathe and her friend caught up with the two Marines and asked them if they were there for a reenactment or reunion event. She said they both “boasted big smiles and replied that they were ‘simply visiting the town, which was dear to them’.” 

Cathe and her friend walked along with them, briefly. They told them their names (George and George), and gave them their mailing address. 

At some point, Cathe and her friend realized that they were not talking to the living, but had been interacting with two spirits, and the two spirits soon vanished before their eyes.

Cathe decided to do some research online and soon found the two Georges, who had perished in the crash of a Marine dive-bomber near the present intersection of Culp Street and Johns Avenue during the 1922 Marine maneuvers at Gettysburg.  Their names were George Wallis Hamilton and George Russell Martin. She even found their photographs and recognized them.

Conveying what she had found to the author of this article uncovered enough information about Hamilton and Martin and the 1922 Marine maneuvers that the writer approached Jim Rada and the two co-authored The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles, & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg, which included a good deal of information about Hamilton and Martin and the crash of the airplane.

The coverage of the Hamilton and Martin deaths in the book inspired local residents and Marines to raise money to erect the Captain George Hamilton and Gunnery Sergeant George Martin Memorial Wayside, which was completed and dedicated in 2018, and stands near the crash site on land set aside by the Heritage Center.

A couple of stories have come out of Colt Park, a housing development constructed beginning in the late 1950s on the battlefield, specifically on what was a Confederate position on the left flank of Pickett’s Charge. 

Not only was there a heated exchange between Confederate and Union troops on the farm fields there that would eventually become the Colt Park development, but there was also a significant Confederate mass grave located along the perimeter of the site. Even isolated burials of deceased soldiers from the conflict had been recovered in the decades following the war.

But two notable paranormal occurrences that occurred among the modern-day residents of the park appeared to not have been Civil War-related.

The names of the residents and the locations of the incidences must be kept out of print, but below are the encounters.

One involved the movement of planks in the attic of one of the homes, which had commenced one night at exactly 11:45 p.m., and continued for five or ten minutes. This inexplicable activity continued for days, each night at exactly 11:45 p.m.

After the first day or two, a contractor was called to determine if something was structurally amiss in the home’s attic, but nothing was found to indicate what was causing the persistent disturbances. 

After another day or two, an exterminator was called to ascertain if the activity was the result of a “home invasion” by one or more of the neighborhood’s squirrels or raccoons. 

After an extensive investigation, the pest control expert declared that he had found nothing out of the ordinary and no signs of where an animal could have entered, nor any evidence of any animal activity.

On the way out of the door, he commented to the homeowners, “I think you know what it is…” Two days later, the disturbance ended and never occurred again. 

A second Colt Park incident was non-Civil War related. A resident was watching television, and admittedly getting a little dozy while waiting for his wife to return from an outing with a friend. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, and as the husband was jolted out of a semi-sleep, a young girl jumped up off the couch and exuberantly proclaimed, “I’ll get it,” and ran to the backdoor in the kitchen.

Then the husband realized there was no little girl in the house, so he got up and went into the kitchen to let his wife in.

It would be easy to write this off as the husband having dozed off and was suddenly awakened and thought he saw the little girl, whom he described as wearing shorts and a non-descript blouse, with a decidedly late-1950s-style hairdo (the husband grew up with two sisters and believed he had recognized the hair style).

However, a few days later, the husband went into the basement where he had his office and found a complete child’s tea set, comprised of four teacups and saucers and a tea pot, arranged nicely in a circle on the floor of the basement. But the residents did not have any young children, and none belonging to any friends or relatives had visited them recently.

Further, later in that week, the wife was moving some boxes around in the basement, and found lying on one of them was a late 1950s Christmas catalog, of the type that hardware stores used to mail out in that timeframe. Looking through it, she found a photograph of nearly the very same tea set that had been found arranged on the basement floor a few days earlier.

They still have the tea set and catalog, but nothing further of the little girl has been experienced since.

Back to the battlefield “proper,” generally, it is held that park rangers do not share any of their paranormal experiences with the public, but one did so a number of years ago.

It appears he had been dispatched to an area of the park (which was closed at that hour to the public) to investigate reports of Civil War reenactors having been seen on the field.

Responding to the reported location, the ranger parked and exited the car and, grabbing a flashlight, began to look around. He finally did spot a number of figures that appeared to be…in the dark as best as he could determine…walking across the field among some trees and heading in his direction, so he proceeded to approach them.

As he and the ‘soldiers’ approached each other closer, he said the central figure actually passed through the tree in front of him.

On that note, the ranger retreated to his patrol car and immediately departed the scene, and merely reported that he had “not encountered any reenactors in the area” and left it at that.

Bloody hand projects from medium Eileen Catherine (Cathe) Curtis while in the Orphanage, Gettysburg.

Trails for the Kids

Richard D. L. Fulton

Fall is a season of change, as the heat of summer begins to diminish and weather, overall, begins to moderate. 

But fall is also a season during which life begins to prepare for the harshest of Earth’s seasons, the winter, with its plunging, freezing temperatures, along with ice, freezing rain, and snowstorms.

With all that is going on with nature as the fall season gets underway, it also provides a great opportunity for the children to get outside with their families and explore the various nature trails to see for themselves the transition of life that takes place in the wake of the culmination of summer.

A great outdoor trail concept for children is the storybook trails, which feature placards, or waysides, that, in compilation, tell a story. As the children advance along the trail, the storyline advances as well.

Even the storybook trails offer a chance for the children to also get a glimpse into the dynamic changes associated with the advent of fall.

Emmitsburg has recently completed its storybook trail in the 59.14 acres of the E. Eugene Myers Community Park. The park is located along Willow Drive, at 201 W. Lincoln Avenue in Emmitsburg,

In addition to the storybook trail, the park features a pool, a dog park, a walking trail, tennis and basketball courts, ball fields, and pavilions.

The storybook trail is located behind the playground, where one will see a small walking path that has large-sized story books for children to read. Each month features a different book. For more information on the storybook trail, contact the Town of Emmitsburg at 301-600-6302.

Thurmont has a Library Nature Trail (also known as the Library Loop Nature Trail), which was established by the Thurmont Regional Library on library-owned land and made available to the public when the trail system was officially opened in 2018.

The trail, which runs from the library grounds to the Thurmont Trolley Trail, features educational mini-wayside markers, each containing nature-themed information, photographs, and illustrations.

Creation of the trail system was a collaborative effort, including financial assistance donated towards the completion of the trail by the Eagle Scouts and Class of 1961, as well as further assistance provided by Frederick County Public School SUCCESS students.

For more information on the Library Loop Nature Trail, contact the Thurmont Regional Library at 301-600-7200.

If the children just want to take a comfortable, leisurely walk among nature, with a little historical add-on, they might like the Thurmont Trolley Trail, a .8-mile trail installed over the former trolley tracks that serviced Thurmont in the early 1900s.

The existing trail begins at the historical trolley car and promotes a glimpse at Thurmont’s historical transportation services. For more information on the Thurmont Trolley Trail, contact the Town of Thurmont at 301-271-7313.

Cunningham Falls State Park offers a number of different types of trails, one of which is a storybook trail (otherwise known as the Children’s Storybook Hike). The story presented along the trail teaches the hikers about making maple syrup. The park’s website states, “Follow the storybook path along the lake and cross the bridge to the North Beach. Stop at each interpretive sign and read the book to learn another step in the process of making maple syrup.”

If the children are interested in history, the Cunningham Falls State Park also offers a quarter-mile, self-guided tour of the Catoctin Furnace site. 

The trail, which leads to the Catoctin Furnace Historical Village, entails crossing U.S. 15 via an elevated foot path (46 steps up the stairway).

Another hiking trail is the African American Cemetery Trail, which leads to the heart of the Catoctin Furnace Historical Village. The placards not only instruct the hiker on the iron-making process, but the trail also features the names and stories of those enslaved to work in the village. This ADA-style unpaved path has two viewing platforms and three wooden benches.

For more information on the Cunningham Falls State Park trails, contact the Cunningham Falls State Park at 301-271-7574.

Cunningham Falls State Park storybook trail placard.

As Told to Joan Bittner Fry by Doug Laumann, owner of the Thrift Store at Blue Ridge Summit

In 2022, a fishing trip to Assateague, Virginia, ended in a great time, catching lots of fish. However, when my son and I left Assateague for home late in the evening, we stopped at a convenience store to fill up with gas and get something to drink for the trip home.

We were on the road 35-40 minutes when a car came toward us on the wrong side of the road. We swerved to miss the car. Our truck went up on two wheels and the camper jackknifed. The camper became unhooked from the truck and rolled, tearing the undercarriage from the back of the truck.

The camper slammed the Jersey wall and veered across the highway, slamming into the side of the truck. Thank God, we made it okay, but we lost everything in the camper and all our fishing gear. But all can be replaced. Fortunately, my wife and grandchildren had left earlier, so they were not involved. The rescue unit and a lot of medics showed up. There was lots of glass and noise.

Out of nowhere, a gentleman showed up with tears in his eyes and asked if we were okay. We assured him that we were all right, but when we asked why he was crying, he said he had lost his grandmother that day and didn’t want to see another death. We said we were sorry about his grandmother’s death. He thanked us for asking.

The state trooper said we needed to pay the crane driver $600 to clean the highway and get the camper off the road. I told the officer I’d have to pay by credit card or check. He replied that they could only take cash.

Again, the gentleman who showed up with tears in his eyes told us not to worry, that everything would be taken care of. He asked for our address. I told him AAA wouldn’t tow the camper home because they were limited to 100 miles. He said he would pay whatever it cost, taking out his wallet. He paid the crane driver the $600 cash and asked for a receipt. The next day, our camper was at our house, thanks to this kind man who just showed up at the accident. The trooper said we could drive the truck since we had lights and a tag, which we attached to the tailgate.

Believe it, there are angels, and this man and his family will always be our angels. We finally got things straightened out from the accident and, this year (2023), made it back to Assateague to fish. We had a really good time and saw the gentleman again and met his family. We will stay friends forever.

The biggest fish story from this year’s trip was that every morning at the campsite, we saw an eagle, but the morning we left, we didn’t see it. When we were crossing the Assateague Bridge, we saw an eagle there. I believe the gentleman was looking over us through eagle’s wings. Hopefully, everything goes well, and we can make it back next year to continue our wonderful friendship.

Doug Laumann and his son, Ryan Laumann, hold up their catches during this year’s fishing trip to Assateague, Virginia.