Currently viewing the tag: "Cunningham Falls State Park"

The first annual Maryland Iron Festival was held the weekend of May 18 and 19, 2019 in historic Catoctin Furnace, in Thurmont, Maryland, to celebrate the state as a center for the craft of ironmaking. Activities were held within the historic village, as well as Catoctin Mountain Park, and Cunningham Falls State Park. The festival featured traditional blacksmithing, casting and molding demonstrations in partnership with Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, live music and performances, artists and craftspeople, spring plant and flower sales, children’s activities, a “feats of strength” tournament, tours of historic buildings and the iron furnace, delicious historic food, plein air artists, and local wine and craft beer.

Historic structures, such as the Collier’s Log House (ca. 1810) (pictured in background of our cover photo), the Stone Cottage (ca. 1820), and the Catoctin Iron Furnace were open to the public both days.

The newly constructed trail that was constructed and crafted by Catoctin Furnace volunteers with grant monies now links the furnace to the historic village. Visitors and locals enjoyed all facets of the festival. In our cover photo, Barry Riddle, Liam Deveney, Megan Deveney, Abbey Deveney (seated left to right) and Seamus Riddle and Matt Deveney (standing left to right) enjoyed the fresh streamside Catoctin Furnace Trail on Sunday, May 19.

The Catoctin Furnace was built by four brothers in order to produce iron from the rich deposits of hematite found in the nearby mountains. It played a pivotal role during the industrial revolution in the young United States. The furnace industry supported a thriving community, and company houses were established alongside the furnace stack. Throughout the 19th century, the furnace produced iron for household and industrial products. After more than 100 years of operation, the Catoctin Furnace ceased production in 1903.

In 1973, the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc., was formed by G. Eugene Anderson, Clement E. Gardiner, J. Franklin Mentzer, and Earl M. Shankle to “foster and promote the restoration of the Catoctin Furnace Historic District…and to maintain the same exclusively for educational and scientific purposes…to exhibit to coming generations our heritage of the past.”

Today, the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc. is undertaking groundbreaking research, including bioarchaeological research on human remains from the African American cemetery in Catoctin Furnace. In partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and the Reich Laboratory for Medical and Population Genetics at Harvard University, this project is analyzing ancient DNA and the human genome of several revolutionary-era African American workers at Catoctin Furnace. Such research, in conjunction with other technologies, such as stable isotope analysis, could tell us where these workers were born, where they lived throughout their lives, and what constituted their diet. We believe that every life mattered, and every past matters now. By studying and disseminating the results of this research, we hope that people everywhere will get to meet some of these early workers and understand the critical roles they played in the development of our young nation, as well as appreciate the rich, varied trajectories of their lives.

For more information, please call 443-463-6437 or visit

James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont businesses are beginning to be recognized as some of the best in Frederick County. The Frederick News-Post’s annual “Best of the Best” contest recognized 183 county businesses in 14 categories as being the “Best of the Best.” Each year, the community nominates and votes for their favorite businesses.

At a town meeting where the local businesses were recognized, Economic Development Director Vickie Grinder said, “Traditionally Frederick had held all the winners; but in the last couple of years, several years, that has been changing.”

Grinder recognized these local winners with a “You Make Thurmont Proud” Award.

Cunningham Falls State Park won awards for Best Place to Camp (Regional) and Best Place for a First Date (Non-Food). “It’s a great partnership we have with Thurmont, and we’re growing with Thurmont,” said Mark Spurrier, park manager.

Dr. Jon A. Moles with Gateway Orthodontics won Best Orthodontist. He said, “To make it to the final five, and then to actually be the best comes from the community.” He said opening his practice in Thurmont was the best decision he ever made.

Stauffer Funeral Home, PA, won Best Funeral Home.

Hawkins Landscaping won Best Landscaping Company. Eric Hawkins said, “For so many years, we used to think we had to go to Montgomery County, and we did, and we beat that road. Little did we know we had all the support we needed right here, locally.”

Baker Tree Services won Best Tree Service Company.

Springfield Manor Winery Distillery Brewery won Best Wedding Venue and Best Winery: Springfield Manor Winery Distillery Brewery. Amy with Springfield Manor said, “Thurmont is such a small place, but look how mighty we are. We snagged a lot of the big awards.”

The Frederick County Office of Economic Development also listed a report of the top 50 CEOs in the county. Two Thurmont CEOs—David Hawkins, Jr. with Hawkins Landscaping and Jeff Barber with Playground Specialists—were among the list of top Frederick County executives. Grinder also awarded them “You Make Thurmont Proud” Awards.

On Tuesday, February 6, 2019, at the Town meeting, several Thurmont businesses were given the “You Make Thurmont Proud” Award for winning the 2018 Frederick News-Post “Best of the Best.”

Deb Abraham Spalding

In the October issue of The Catoctin Banner, the cover article was called “The History and Mystery of McAfee Falls.” In it, we explored the McAfee family, who were the landowners of the falls, now called Cunningham Falls and part of Cunningham Falls State Park. We invited people to help solve the mystery about why the falls were named Cunningham Falls at some point in the early 1900s. Despite hundreds of hours of research, the reason Cunningham was selected as the name of the recreation area and falls remains a mystery. After printing the article, some tidbits came to light that may further help to eventually uncover the mystery about the naming of the falls to Cunningham Falls after being called McAfee Falls or Hunting Creek Falls in various news articles.

After our article published, one of the McAfee family’s patriarchs, Rob McAfee of Foxville, was told by a lady that she believes there was a family of Cunninghams that lived near the falls on the way to Foxville. Also, a family in Thurmont invited me to take a photo of an 1822 watercolor painting of the falls by Samuel Reinke (see photo). The artist painted himself and his wife, holding a parasol over him, in the lower center of the picture. From The History of Graceham, compiled by Rev. A.L. Oerter in 1913 from the Graceham Moravian Church diary, “Friday, October 25, 1822 Bros. and Sr. Samuel Reinke arrived from Lancaster to participate in the dedication of the new church on Sunday, October 27, 1822.” 1822 is the date of the painting.

The inscriptions or marks on the bottom of the painting say Herman’s Falls Near Graceham Maryland, signed lower right: S. Reinke pxt. 1822.

Note: This past July, the McAfees held a family reunion and staged some family photographs that were similar to those taken by their ancestors at the falls. In last month’s cover photo, Becky Hurley was misnamed as Pauline McAfee. Our apologies, Becky

by Theresa Dardanell

The Guardian Hose Company, Inc.

Frederick County Company 10

Hopefully, you will never need to be rescued due to an accident at Catoctin Mountain National Park or Cunningham Falls State Park; but if you do, the Guardian Hose Company provides fire and rescue services to an 84-square mile area that includes the parks.  I recently met with Company President Wayne Stackhouse and Fire Chief Chris Kinnaird and watched a training session at the Guardian Hose Company, during which several members practiced setting up a Z Rig, an arrangement of ropes and pulleys used for a rescue.  The rigging gets its name because, when completed, it looks like the letter Z.  Monthly trainings help members keep their skills up-to-date so that they are prepared for any emergency. One previous training provided a refresher on the self-contained breathing apparatus that is needed for firefighters to enter smoke-filled buildings.

The Guardian Hose Company was organized in 1887, and started with hand-drawn fire apparatus and a bell on top of the town hall that was rung to alert the firefighters.  The first fire hall, built in 1890, was located in a garage under the town hall. It was replaced in 1950 and then again in 2007. Currently, the company has two engines, an engine tanker to carry additional water, a rescue squad vehicle, two  brush trucks, a quick response vehicle, and a special air unit, which is a trailer where the self-contained breathing apparatus can be refilled so that firefighters don’t have to leave the scene to refill their air tanks.

The one hundred percent volunteer organization has 225 members who serve in one or more of the membership categories:  active administration, active emergency operations, social, or junior membership. Current officers are Wayne Stackhouse—President; Terry Frushour—Vice President; Lori Brown—Secretary; Tisha Miller—Assistant Secretary; Beverly Frushour—Treasurer; Russell Schantz—Assistant Treasurer; Chris Kinnaird—Fire Chief; Carroll Brown—Assistant Chief; Blaine Schildt—Captain; Will Gue and Sean Donovan—Lieutenants; Chad Brown and Brian Donovan—Sergeants. Trustees are Chad Brown, Brian Donovan, Jody Miller, Joseph Ohler, and Steven Yingling.

The company has lots of family ties; there are members who are brothers, mothers and sons, fathers and sons, or husbands and wives. According to Wayne Stackhouse, many began as junior members and almost forty percent of the members also belong to the ambulance company. They all have different jobs, but they all work together, not only during an emergency, but also during the fundraisers. The biggest events are, of course, Colorfest, the carnival, and the fall festival.

Fire Chief Kinnaird said that Fire Safety Education is an important part of the job. School groups and scout troops learn about emergency situations and when to call 911, as well as escape plans and first aid.  When the children go to the fire station, they get to see the fire trucks and the firefighter’s gear close up.  They can even try on the gear. Promoting fire safety in the home is also encouraged. Contact your local fire department to request a home inspection of your smoke detectors.

The dedicated members of the Guardian Hose Company work hard to fulfill their mission, “to assist in protecting the lives and property of the people of Thurmont and vicinity, and to assist in rescuing persons and conveying them to a place of safety; to extinguish fire and prevent its spreading to adjacent property; in case of collapsed buildings, to rescue all persons and bodies; to clear debris and to remove all weak or dangerous parts of the building.”

Brian Donovan, Chad Brown, Daniel Myers, Brandon Boyle, and Ray Snyder practice setting up a Z Rig during a training session at the Guardian Hose Fire Station.