The Catoctin Banner is distributed via direct mail to approximately 8,500 households in Emmitsburg, Thurmont, Sabillasville, Cascade, Lewistown, and Rocky Ridge, Maryland. It is placed for free pick-up in surrounding towns in high-traffic areas. Those towns include Woodsboro, Taneytown, Detour, and Smithsburg in Maryland and Blue Ridge Summit, Waynesboro, and Fairfield in Pennsylvania.
by James Rada, Jr.
The End of Rocky Ridge
Rocky Ridge disappeared in 1913. “So far as railroad matters are concerned, Rocky Ridge does not exist and hereafter that station will be known as Emmitsburg Junction,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.
The Western Maryland Railroad (WMRR) station had opened in Rocky Ridge in 1870, with Sheridan Biggs serving as the first freight agent and telegraph operator. He served in that position until 1907. Over the years, he had had to deal with confusion over passengers knowing that they needed to switch trains in Rocky Ridge in order to get to Emmitsburg on the Emmitsburg Railroad. They boarded a small train made up of an engine, baggage car, smoker/mail car, and parlor car.
Though only a few miles long, the railroad was well run. The Adams County News noted in 1916, “…there is to-day a short distance from Gettysburg a railroad planned, built and financed through the efforts of women, a road which was built some 40 years ago and which to-day untroubled by strikes and other unpleasantness, is paying steadily 4 per cent on the original investment.”
The Daughters of Charity owned 70 percent of the stock in the railroad, according to the Adams County News. This is not surprising since one of the stops on the line was at St. Joseph College. Students traveling to Mount St. Mary’s College also used the railroad traveling to and from school.
“It is probably the only road in existence where the possession of an ordinary ticket entitles one to parlor-car accommodations,” the Adams County News reported.
But something about the location confused passengers, despite the conductor often calling out, “Rocky Ridge, change for Emmitsburg.”
A.V.D. Watterson, Esq., a Pittsburgh attorney and president of the Mount St. Mary’s Alumni Association, lobbied to the Western Maryland Railroad for years to change the name of Rocky Ridge to Emmitsburg Junction to make it clearer that the station was a changing point for passengers.
In 1913, he wrote the directors of the WMRR again. This time, he noted in his letter, “Since a through line is now established from Pittsburgh to Baltimore, which will permit of persons going through to Emmitsburg with only one change of cars, it is important to your Company to make a change of this kind, and I, therefore, again call your attention to it.”
This time, the directors agreed with his reasoning and renamed Rocky Ridge Emmitsburg Junction on all of its documentation and schedules. However, the post office remained Rocky Ridge, so anything being mailed to Emmitsburg Junction had to be sent to Rocky Ridge.
The Clarion noted that the change might have come too late. Thurmont might soon become the transfer point for rail travelers if the Frederick and Hagerstown Railway continued to grow.
“It is hoped a trolley road will soon be built from Thurmont to Mt. St. Mary’s for the benefit and convenience of the hundreds of students attending college at that place, and also for the benefit of the many people residing between these two points,” the newspaper reported.
This did not happen, but with the growth of automobile travel, so few people were using the Emmitsburg Railroad by 1935 that it became freight only. It ceased operation in 1940.
Even then, not all the stations along the Western Maryland line were alerted to the change.
In 1959, Mrs. James Tucker and her daughter, both from Boston, traveled to New York City, where they purchased a ticket to Emmitsburg via Emmitsburg Junction. They boarded the train for the five-hour trip to St. Joseph College.
When the New Englanders arrived at Emmitsburg Junction, they found a worn out railway station but no railroad, not even a track,” the Gettysburg Times reported.
Luckily, they met Guy Baker, who was driving a mail and express truck. He offered to take the ladies to the college.
Emmitsburg Junction still continues to pop up on modern maps from time to time, although it should have ceased to exist along the railroad. A 1992 Frederick County trash map showed Emmitsburg Junction as north of MD 77, while Rocky Ridge was south of the highway. Even today, if you type Emmitsburg Junction into Mapquest, it will take you to Rocky Ridge.
Rocky Ridge WM Station.
Area churches and organizations in Emmitsburg, Lewistown, Rocky Ridge, Sabillasville and Thurmont are working to provide students in need with school supplies for the 2017-2018 school year. This program is to assist students attending the Catoctin Feeder Schools. These schools include Emmitsburg Elementary, Lewistown Elementary & Pyramid Program, Sabillasville Elementary, Thurmont Primary, Thurmont Elementary, Thurmont Middle and Catoctin High.
The Annual Catoctin Community School Supply Drive is going to be held on Tuesday, August 21st from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Graceham Moravian Church located at 8231 Rocky Ridge Road in Thurmont.
If you would like to donate to this program, please drop off school supplies, cash donations or gift cards (Walmart) to the church on August 15th from 9:00 a.m. until Noon.
Any questions or concerns, please contact coordinator, Jennifer Harbaugh at 301-639-9970 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the evening of January 25, 2018, Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company (RRVFC) opened its doors and warmly welcomed their volunteers and friends “home” for their annual banquet. The room was filled with over 200 familiar faces, ready to celebrate achievements and share stories from the past year. The aroma of a homemade dinner from GT’s Catering filled the room. After everyone had finished dessert, President Dale Kline opened, “This marks sixty-eight years of our service to our community of Rocky Ridge…We are very proud to say we are one of five volunteer fire companies in Frederick County.” He stressed the importance of the volunteers, not only within the fire company itself, but the local churches in the proximity of the town that all come together during carnival time to make the event so prosperous. “Without that outside help in a small community, we could not have done what we have done in sixty-eight years.”
The RRVFC relies heavily on funds made from the carnival in August. Other fundraisers held throughout the year include butcherings in November and February; and fantastic breakfasts, hosted by the Auxiliary; as well as Ridgefest; gun raffles; Santa Detail; and various bingos. “The ones who make sure everyone’s happy is our great, great, Ladies Auxiliary…” said Kline, as he gave praise to the hard-working women of the RRVFC.
Ladies Auxiliary President Betty Ann Mumma stood with Dale at the podium, “We are just so fortunate that we have so many who are so willing to help us,” she said. She joked about the President’s earlier comments, bantering back, “Sixty-eight years! Wheew! I’ve been here for fifty of it, in this position for forty-four of it!” The crowd chuckled and clapped for light-hearted Betty Ann, who has been such a vital part of the RRVFC for most of its years. After giving many thanks and credit to the rest of the auxiliary and President Dale Kline, she then handed him a check for $15,000 to help with expenses for the fire company.
Kathy Afzali [State Delegate] took a ride from Annapolis to present RRVFC with a citation from the Bureau of General Assembly in recognition of their continued work to protect their community, and other surrounding communities, for over sixty years. Also in attendance, County Executive Jan Gardner, County Councilmen Kirby Delauter and Billy Shrieve. Another familiar face, Chip Jewell, recently-retired Director of Volunteer Fire Services.
Preceding the citation, President Kline recognized his operational and administrative officers. Company 11 filled in.
Denny and Paulette Mathias awarded the following recipients 5 year pins; 10 year pins were presented to Amber Youngerman, Westly Burrier, Emily Grant; 15 year pins -Tammy Smith; 20 year pins – Rev. James Russell, Melissa Mathias, and Eric Martin. 25 year pin – Matthew Moser and Nelson Smith. One 35 year pin was given to Kevin Albaugh. A 40 year pin to Chief Alan Hurley and 45 year pin for Bernard “Bun” Wivell.
After the 5-year pins, Chief Alan Hurley came forward to present the “Chief’s Award”. Chief Hurley called out to his line officers to join him up on this evening’s “Front Line”. Top ten responders included Matt Moser (169 calls), Chief Alan Hurley (141 calls), Christina Hurley (126 calls) Kevin Albaugh (110 calls) Bonny Hurley (107 calls), Larry Humerick Jr. (97 calls) Wesley Burrier (61 calls) John Reese (50 calls) Leon Stover Jr. ( 47 calls) and Craig Hovermale (44 calls).
“Company 30, we have a deep appreciation for you for standing by during our carnival and other times we need you…” said Alan Hurley who recognized Thurmont Community Ambulance Company for their partnership throughout the years. Other companies that were recognized included Vigilant Hose and Independent Hose for their work with RRVFC.
Luke Humerick, leader of the Junior Fire Company took the opportunity to congratulate this year’s young volunteers. “I had a great group of kids this year. They’re all hardworking and ready to help with any task we have.” Even though three of his members were promoted into RRVFC last year, he’s still proud of all of his kids accomplishments – including Breezy Combs who was elected “Frederick County Fire Prevention Queen.”
The President’s Award was presented to Chief Alan Hurley. Dale reminisced, “This young man asked me at a bingo one night – “What is it that I have to do to become chief?” He presented Alan with the award, concluding “… as you can see, this was many years ago…” in reference to Chief Hurley who has been in the position for many years.
Linda Northrup and Bonny Hurley presented the Robert Albaugh. Volunteer of the Year award to Nancy Baker. Nancy was recognized for her dedication to the company, currently serving as the Auxiliary’s Assistant Chaplin, and has donated 335 hours this year. The Outstanding Junior award was presented to Wayne Lewis. He joined the company in 2015 and has donated 135 hours of time during 2017. The Charles Mumma Firefighter award was presented to Matt Moser, a member for twenty-five years, and a top responder for most of them.
The evening concluded with the induction of the new officers for 2018: President; Dale Kline; Vice President, Denny Mathias; Secretary; Paulette Mathias; Asst. Secretary, Christina Hurley; Treasurer, Bun Wivell; Asst. Treasurer, Bonny Hurley; Chaplin, Rev. James Russell; Chief, Alan Hurley; 1st Asst. Chief, Luke Humerick; 2nd Asst. Chief, Kevin Albaugh; Captain, Jim Rice; Induction was provided by Bob Jacobs, past President of Frederick County Fire Association.
As volunteers shook hands and gave hugs goodbye, all knew they’d be back soon, in one way or another, to show their support and volunteer during the upcoming year’s fundraisers and social events.
2018 Rocky Ridge Volunteer Fire Company Officers
Linda Northrup presents the Robert Albaugh Volunteer of the Year Award to Nancy Baker.
President Dale Kline presents the President’s Award to Chief Alan Hurley.
Priscilla Rall of Rocky Ridge finished her cookbook, and it has been printed. “This has been a labor of love and a long time in the making. It includes a chapter (with my illustrations) on open hearth cooking, its tools, ingredients, methods, etc. Then, there are 178 recipes, including ones for hoe cakes, all kinds of steamed puddings (like fig, hasty, and pease), ginger cake, homemade yeast, beaten biscuits, apple fritters,schnitz un knepp, venison, broiled eels, squirrel, blackbird pie, shad, pickled peppers, sauerkraut, cranberry ketchup, horse cake, green tomato pie, my great grandmother’s kaffee kuchen, corn and locust beer, elder and dandelion wine and much more!” Rall said. “My book is profusely illustrated with vintage botanical illustrations, my own photos, Uncle Wiggely (remember him?), and lots of nursery rhymes. There are some old fashioned remedies, also. It has a spiral binding, so you can open it up flat—the better to read it by.
Learn the history behind our ancestors’ cooking, what they ate, and how they prepared it. This isn’t your Monticello or Mt. Vernon cookbook, but one with seldom seen recipes for everyday folk. Also invaluable for the living history reinactor.
The price for this cookbook is $36.00. “Wish it was lower, but I had to have it printed privately, so no room for wholesale pricing,” explained Rall.
Rall will be scheduling an open hearth cooking workshop this winter, just looking for a nice venue. If interested, let her know at 301-271-2868.
Thurmont Baseball is actively planning to make 2017 their best year ever. Registration is now open and is in full swing until February 24, 2017. Visit their website at www.TLLbaseball.com to register, and please share the message with your friends. Additionally, they will be offering in-person registration on February 5 at the TLL clubhouse (above the concession stand) from 10:00 a.m.-noon.
Players from Emmitsburg, Thurmont, Rocky Ridge, Woodsboro, Taneytown, and Union Bridge are welcome to register. They also offer a sibling discount that applies to families with more than one player. The 2017 League Divisions: All games played at the Thurmont Complex — Tee-Ball (ages 4-6): typically 7 to 10 teams; Instructional League (ages 5-8): typically 6 to 8 teams; Minor League (ages 7-11): typically 8 to 10 teams; Little League Major (ages 9-12): 6 teams; Babe Ruth (ages 13-18): typically 3 to 5 teams.
At the Tee-ball, Instructional, Minor, and Major divisions, all of their games are played in-house at the Thurmont Baseball Complex. This provides their families the convenience of not having to travel around the county for games during school nights. They also have their beautifully renovated concession stand, serving some of the best concession fare in Frederick County. New in 2017, they will be offering some healthier dinner options for families—but don’t worry, the pizza and nachos aren’t going anywhere!
Thurmont Little League is looking forward to seeing your player on their ball fields. Feel free to call Ed Lowry at 267-664-5059 with questions or email them at email@example.com. View their advertisement on page 28.
It’s cold out, but it’s warming up at Thurmont Baseball! Let’s be honest, it’s January and it’s cold; who in their right mind is thinking about baseball? That question could be a loaded one depending on who you ask. In the Thurmont-Emmitsburg region, that passion for baseball runs pretty deep. True, the cold weather has arrived, but at Thurmont Baseball, they are gearing up for their sixty-sixth season of baseball. They are actively planning to make 2017 their best year ever. Registration is now open and is in full swing until late February. Visit their website at www.TLLbaseball.com to register, and please share the message with your friends. Additionally, they will be offering in-person registration on the following dates/times to accommodate our community members who would prefer that method of registration: January 7 and February 5—at the TLL clubhouse (above the concession stand) from 10:00 a.m.-noon.
Players from Emmitsburg, Thurmont, Rocky Ridge, Woodsboro, Taneytown, and Union Bridge are welcome to register. Act now to get your $10.00 off registration through the end of January. They also offer a sibling discount that applies to families with more than one player. The 2017 League Divisions: All games played at the Thurmont Complex — Tee-Ball (ages 4-6): typically 7 to 10 teams; Instructional League (ages 5-8): typically 6 to 8 teams; Minor League (ages 7-11): typically 8 to 10 teams; Little League Major (ages 9-12): 6 teams; Babe Ruth (ages 13-18): typically 3 to 5 teams.
At the Tee-ball, Instructional, Minor, and Major divisions, all of their games are played in-house at the Thurmont Baseball Complex. This provides their families the convenience of not having to travel around the county for games during school nights. They also have their beautifully renovated concession stand, serving some of the best concession fare in Frederick County. New in 2017, they will be offering some healthier dinner options for families. Don’t worry, the pizza and nachos aren’t going anywhere!
Thurmont Little League is looking forward to seeing your player on their ball fields. Feel free to call Ed Lowry at 267-664-5059 with questions or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A fire above Thurmont between Route 550 and Kelbaugh Road consumed seven acres on Sunday, November 21, 2016. The fire started around 2:00 p.m., was contained by 5:00 p.m., and fully extinguished by 8:00 p.m. It was started by downed power lines.
Ironically a new fire broke out around 1:00 a.m. the following morning near the same area. It is believed that the second fire started when a spark from the first fire was carried by the wind to the new location.
Initially, Thurmont’s Guardian Hose Company responded to the second fire, and by 7:30 a.m. fifty to seventy-five fire fighters were involved. Responders from Thurmont, Graceham, Emmitsburg, Rocky Ridge, Wolfsville, Smithsburg, Leitersburg, Frederick City, Camp David, Lewistown, Greenmount, Middletown, Blue Ridge Summit, Raven Rock, and more reported to help. Route 550 was closed to traffic during these fires.
Graceham Fire Company’s Assistant Chief, Louie Powell, was in command at the base of the mountain on Route 550 where water, gas, food, and holding tanks were set up. A canteen truck was brought in from Independence Fire Company to feed the responders.
Powell explained that to pump water up the mountain to fight the fire, a fire truck from Rocky Ridge had a 5” supply line pumping from the holding tanks to an engine from Vigilant Hose Company, and then that engine pumped through to another engine, and so on, to reach the fire higher up the mountain. He said, “It’s a neat operation.”
Neither of these fires resulted in a threat to human life, nor was there damage to homes or buildings. The second fire consumed approximately ten more acres of forest before being fully extinguished sometime in the afternoon on Monday.
Thanks to the many residents who provided assistance to the firefighters by opening access routes, allowing access to your property, and allowing the use of your private ponds for water. Good job to everyone who pulled together to successfully beat these fires!
Photo of fire by Donna Sweeney,
photo of basecamp by Deb Spalding
The Western Maryland Comes to Mechanicstown
by James Rada, Jr.
Photo Courtesy of Thurmontimages.com
Thurmont’s stop on the Western Maryland Railway makes up only a paragraph in the history of the railroad. For Thurmont, however, it was a major event that not only helped shape the town’s future but also gave it its unique name.
The Western Maryland Railway began in 1852 as the Baltimore, Carroll, and Frederick Railroad. The goal at that time was to build a railroad from Baltimore to Washington County.
The Maryland General Assembly changed the name to the Western Maryland Rail Road Company the following year. For many years, the terminus of the railroad was at Union Bridge, where it had reached in 1862.
However, this was not the goal of the railroad. Mechanicstown knew that it was positioned along the proposed route of the railroad and wanted to see it completed, as did many other people. The original charter in 1852 called for the railroad to be built to the headwaters of the Monocacy River, which meant that the terminus would be at Mechanicstown or Rocky Ridge.
An 1871 article in the Catoctin Clarion noted, “May it not be said of the people of Mechanicstown that they have pinned their faith to the Western Maryland Railroad? This great artery of travel and commerce, hampered as it has been and still is, has done much for the section of the country through which it passes…”
Lobbying was begun to try and get construction to resume once more on the railroad, and on February 24, 1872, the Catoctin Clarion announced, “Rejoice, people of Mechanicstown!” A vote had been taken a few days earlier in Baltimore that was overwhelmingly in favor of continuing the construction of the Western Maryland Railway to Hagerstown and beyond.
“This vote is the harbinger of a new era for this great enterprise,” the newspaper reported.
The announcement brought with it some immediate economic activity in town. “Already on the strength of this news, several parties in our town and vicinity have commenced, sinking shafts in close proximity to the road for the discovery of ore and ore banks, which, we are persuaded, exist in quantities in our very midst,” according to the newspaper. These speculators were searching for iron that could be smelted into pig iron at Catoctin Furnace and used for making rails.
When the railroad opened to Mechanicstown later in 1872, George Wireman wrote in Gateway to the Mountains, “A group of civic-minded citizens arranged a reception and a banquet for the railroad officials and their guests. This event took place in the local warehouse and a gala celebration was enjoyed by all who attended.”
The depot was built on the site of an old cannery, and a water tower was built just to the north of it. The Mechanicstown Station also had a freight yard and engine house.
The railroad brought so much business and travelers into the area that a new depot and associated facilities eventually had to be built near Carroll Street.
“The new depot was built along the main line near Carroll Street and featured two waiting rooms, stationmaster and telegrapher’s office, and sanitary facilities. The grounds were graced with four large grass plots, one on the east, one on the west side of the station, and two in the front. These plots were beautified with ornamental grasses and flowers, protected by low guard rails. The front plots had large lawn vases in the center with blooming flowers,” Wireman described the new depot.
Besides the increased business, the Western Maryland Railway had another major change on Mechanicstown in 1894. Because of the number of towns along the line with names similar to Mechanicstown, the Post Office Department requested that the name be changed. Thurmont was chosen after much debate and a town vote.
The Western Maryland Railway served Thurmont until 1967 when the station closed.
Hundreds of colorful school supplies filled the basement of Graceham Moravian Church on Monday, August 8, 2016. The Catoctin Community School Supply Drive, coordinated by Jen and Laura Harbaugh, collected donations from churches, organizations, and individuals from Emmitsburg, Thurmont, Lewistown, Sabillasville, and Rocky Ridge.
Volunteers from Harriet Chapel and Graceham Moravian Church, along with members of the Harbaugh family, sorted and counted the supplies and purchased additional items with money and gift cards that were also donated. On distribution day, 271 students from ninety-nine families in the Catoctin feeder area chose supplies from tables stacked with backpacks, notebooks, crayons, markers, scissors, glue sticks, pencils, and more.
According to Jen Harbaugh, students were very excited to pick out their own supplies. “I just like to see the kids get what they need to go to school and their smiles when they get it,” said Laura Harbaugh.
Pictured are volunteers Jen Harbaugh, Don Clabaugh, Pat Plum, Timothy Bentz, Fran Hennessy, and Paige Sweeney.
James Rada, Jr.
It is estimated that more than 1,100 World War II Veterans die each day. The United States and Frederick County is quickly losing its “greatest generation.”
The Frederick County Veterans History Project is working to make sure those important histories are not lost. Working with the Library of Congress, these county volunteers have set out to record interviews on DVD with every Veteran they can find in the county. Their primary focus is WWII Veterans, but they are also interviewing any Veteran who is willing to share his or her story.
“We interview any Veteran,” said Priscilla Rall, director of the Frederick County Veterans History Project. “It doesn’t matter whether they were stateside, in the Cold War, anywhere.”
The group of volunteers was founded in April 2003 and, at this time, has interviewed more than three hundred twenty-five of Frederick County’s Veterans. Members currently meet bi-monthly in Rall’s Rocky Ridge home.
While there are committees with other organizations, such as the DAR, that also conduct interviews, Rall said, “To my knowledge, we are the only organization formed in the country just to do Veterans History Project interviews.”
The National Veterans History Project was formed in 2000 as part of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center. The goal of the project is to collect, preserve, and make accessible as many personal accounts from Veterans as possible so that their first-hand knowledge is available to future generations.
Rall, who has conducted more than one hundred interviews, said that her most-interesting interview was when she sat down with Howard Baugh, who flew one hundred thirty-five missions with the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military pilots in the armed forces.
“The white corps had a limit on the number of missions they would fly before they went home,” Rall said. “The Tuskegee Airmen didn’t have a limit and so they flew a lot of missions.”
Rall said that she was also very impressed with the Veterans who fought in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
The Frederick County group is always looking for the names of Veterans who are willing to share their stories. A volunteer will schedule a time to sit down with the Veteran and record the interview on a DVD. Copies of the interview are then sent to the Library of Congress’ Veteran History Project, the Maryland Room in the C. Burr Artz Library, and to the Veteran who granted the interview. A copy is also kept with the group.
“These Veterans have opened their hearts to us, usually painfully,” Rall said. “We should continue to give them our thanks and gratitude.”
The Frederick County Veterans History Project is always seeking volunteers to help conduct interviews, as well as the names of Veterans who would be willing to share their stories.
To help out, call Rall at 301-271-2868 or e-mail her at email@example.com
The Thurmont Little League (TLL) All-Star season is still underway, but TLL is gearing up for an exciting season of fall baseball. Thurmont Little League is open to players from Thurmont, Emmitsburg, Sabillasville, Woodsboro, Rocky Ridge, Taneytown, and Union Bridge.
“Thurmont Little League and Little League International thrives by building virtues of character, courage, and loyalty to the community, which is why the board of directors here at TLL feel so strongly about the Little League mission and the benefits it provides to our servicing communities. When we extended our league’s boundary to the outlining communities, we broadened the Little League virtues and exposed our players to those qualities with the intent of bettering the overall communities in our region. Our goal is to make these youth athletes successful on the field and, more importantly, successful off the field,” said Ed Lowry, president of Thurmont Little League.
The TLL fall baseball season is a great opportunity for players to continue and enhance their baseball skills. We strongly encourage players to sign up for the division they wish to play in the 2016 spring season, so they can get a better idea of the game rules and procedures of that division.
You may register online at www.TLLbaseball.com (through August 23). In-person registrations are now taking place every Monday evening through August 17 at the Thurmont Little League clubhouse, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. Our fall baseball season will begin late August and run through the end of October and cost $60.00 per player (players can receive a $10.00 discount if they register before July 31). Visit www.TLLbaseball.com for more details. If you have questions, please call league President Ed Lowry at 267-664-5059 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Rada, Jr.
Hundreds of millions of years ago, dinosaurs walked the earth, and hundreds of millions of years before that, prehistoric clams filled a vast lake that covered all of Central Maryland and a mud flat that stretched from North Carolina to Connecticut. The lake, known as the Lockatong, sat in the middle of Pangaea, an immense, C-shaped supercontinent.
Then came the drastic climate change that dried the lake, leaving the clams, fish, and other creatures laying in mud where they died. Small land animals moved across the mud flats, seeking water and leaving behind their prints in the mud.
Today, a portion of the former lake is a lush, green farm owned by John and Linda Ballenger in Rocky Ridge. Although the lake is gone, a small stream runs through the property bordered by layers of shale that are slowly yielding their secrets.
Although the Ballengers call their property Buck Forest Farm, among geologists, archeologists, and research papers, the property is referred to as The Fulton Site.
In 1994, John Edwards with the Maryland Geological Survey told Linda Ballenger that there might be dinosaur tracks on her property. Linda examined the area Edwards identified, but didn’t do anything with the information for ten years. That’s when she read an article by Richard D. L. Fulton about an Emmitsburg quarry where fossils had been found. Linda contacted Fulton and told him that her farm might have dinosaur tracks.
Fulton came out to the farm and confirmed what Linda had been told. He then asked permission to begin studying the farm for other prehistoric fossils. Since 2004, his search has yielded thousands of reptile tracks, skin impressions and bones, millipede and insect tracts, plant fossils, and fossil freshwater shrimp and fish.
The site has also attracted attention from researchers in the United States and abroad. Most recently, a group of graduate students from the University of Nebraska toured the site on May 13. They picked at the shale with their hammers and studied the pieces through loupes to see what had been unseen for millions of years.
Jean Self-Trail, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, led the group, which was touring geological sites from North Carolina to Pennsylvania.
“This is part of a field course for these students to look at different types of geology,” said Self-Trail. “They usually go someplace like England or Spain, but, this year, we wanted to study the East Coast.”
In between digging at some of the sites, the students are engaged in various study exercises.
The visit to The Fulton Site was productive in that some additional fossils were unearthed. Robert Weems of the U.S. Geological Survey found fossils of tiny prehistoric shrimp called Cacostrian (or freshwater clam shrimp) that made faint half-moon impressions in the shale.
“We hit pay dirt both literally and figuratively,” Weems said, as he held up the find. Some researchers believe the clam shrimp found on the property to be a unique species.
Some of the other finds at the site include a nicely preserved imprint of a fish about four inches long. The fins, teeth, and scales can all be seen. Paul Olsen of Columbia University said that it represents the oldest dinosaur-age fish found to date east of the Mississippi River. The head of a second smaller fish appears to be jutting out of the head area of the four-inch fish, suggesting it may have been in the process of being eaten by the larger one.
The footprints of two types of reptiles, resembling dicynodonts—one a mouse-size species and the other a larger animal, about the size of a cat—have been found as well, along with the fossils of coelacanth scales.
Following the exploration of The Fulton Site, the group traveled up to the Fairfield Quarry in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, to view the dinosaur tracks that were found there decades ago.
“Today typifies the experience we have had doing research at this site for eight years. We can seem to get twenty Nebraska university students from 1,000 miles away to work on the site, but haven’t even been able to get but one Maryland university student from some 50 miles away to work on the site,” said Fulton, who is the lead lay-professional paleontologist.
Photo by James Rada, Jr.
Registration for the 2015 Spring Thurmont Little League (TTL) is now open. Online registration is available at their website until Friday, February 20, at www.TLLbaseball.com.
Players for Thurmont, Sabillasville, Emmitsburg, Rocky Ridge, Woodsboro, Taneytown and Union Bridge are welcome to register. Come be a part of the Little League experience.
At the T-ball, Instructional, Minor, and Major divisions, all of their games are played in-house at the Thurmont Little League Complex. This provides families the convenience of not having to travel around the county during school nights for games. Each division’s coaches follow a strict core of coaching objectives developed by their program to ensure all children are taught the same basic skills to develop their baseball talents. The TLL Coaching Coordinator oversees the implementation of this program at all levels. Each level provides flexibility with respect to age, so players advance according to their ability. Young players who master the skills are able to advance and are not held back simply because of their birth date.
Additionally, they have undergone major improvements to their facilities to ensure their ball players get to take advantage of the best facilities their program can provide. More improvements are on the way come spring.
All games are played at the Thurmont Complex: T-Ball (ages 4-6): typically 7-10 teams; Instructional League (ages 5-8): typically 6-8 teams; Minor League (ages 7-11): typically 6-7 teams; Little League Major (ages 9-12): new this year, they will field 6 teams.
If you cannot sign up online, please visit them for the following in-person registration dates: Saturday, February 7, from 12:00-2:00 p.m.; Sunday, February 8, from 12:00-2:00 p.m.
Minor and Major tryouts will be conducted on February 21 and February 28. First-time Minor or Major players must attend one tryout.
Both in-person registration dates will take place at their Clubhouse, located at 275 Westview Drive in Thurmont. The Thurmont Little League looks forward to seeing your player on the Little League ball fields.
Feel free to call 267-664-5059 with questions or email them at email@example.com. You can find them on Facebook at Thurmont Little League and on Twitter/Instagram at theTLLnetwork
by James Rada, Jr.
— 1938 —
The End of a Generation in Thurmont
When Thomas H. Shelton died on February 19, 1938, Frederick County lost its last Veteran of the Civil War, seventy-three years after the war ended.
Shelton died at the home of his daughter-in-law, Stella Shelton, who lived near Rocky Ridge. The ninety-seven-year-old had been healthy at the start of the month, but then his health had quickly turned, and he had been sick for about a week prior to his death.
As a young man of eighteen, Shelton had served in Company I of the 1st Maryland Regiment. He had missed fighting at the Battle of Antietam in 1862, because he had been taken as a prisoner of war at Harpers Ferry the day before.
Eventually he was paroled, and he returned to his company and was with them when they fought at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. His company did not fight in the other nearby battle at Monocacy in 1864.
When the war ended and his regiment was discharged, Shelton re-enlisted with the 13th Regiment.
Shelton was buried with full military honors in the Garfield Mt. Bethel United Methodist Cemetery. He had outlived all of his children, but he was survived by nine grandchildren, twenty-seven great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
Frederick County had lost its last two Civil War Veterans within four months of each other.
Although Shelton hadn’t been a native Frederick Countian, Henry Clay Fleagle of Thurmont had been. He had been the second-to-last Civil War Veteran in the county, and the last one who had lived his life here.
Fleagle died in November 1937 at age ninety-four. He was a first-generation American whose parents had been born in Holland.
He had been born in Unionville and served in the Civil War under Capt. Walter Saunders.
“He served for nearly the entire four-year duration of the war, charging with the line of blue at Gettysburg,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.
The end had been a relief for Fleagle. The Frederick News reported that he had been only partially conscious the week before his death at the home of his son, George Fleagle.
Henry’s wife, Lillie Creager, had died two years earlier. He was survived by one daughter, who was married to Wilbur Freeze, four sons, nineteen grandchildren, and twenty great-grandchildren.
Henry was also the last member of the Jason Damuth Post of the Grand Army of the Republic in Thurmont.
It would still be nearly two decades before the last Civil War Veteran died. The final Veterans of the Confederate States armed forces died in the 1950s. A number of men claimed to be last remaining Confederate Veteran. These men died throughout the 1950s. Many of their claims were debunked as more information about their births was uncovered. The largest problem in verifying their claims was that many Confederate records had been destroyed or lost, because the Confederate government had no official archive system.
Pleasant Crump of Alabama died at the end of 1951 at the age of 104. He was the oldest of the group of Confederate Veterans who had a verified service record.
The last Union Veteran was Albert Woolson, who died in 1956 at the age of 109.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, following Woolson’s death, “The American people have lost the last personal link with the Union Army … His passing brings sorrow to the hearts of all of us who cherished the memory of the brave men on both sides of the War Between the States.”
Photo is from 1916 and shows a group of Civil War Veterans posing in front of the grocery store that stood on North Church Street. This building was located in the now-vacant lot next to the Historical Society building.
A view of Veterans standing in front of the old town hall.
Photos Courtesy of Thurmontimages.com
MountainFest Weekend in Sabillasville
by Chris O’Connor
A rather inauspicious opening day of MountainFest at Sabillasville Elementary School in Sabillasville, Maryland, deterred many visitors due to the chilly, misty weather.
Sunday, the overcast skies gave way to sun and warmer temperatures and attendance typical of the decades old annual arts and crafts festival sponsored by the Northwestern Frederick County Civic Association (NFCCA).
The NFCCA headed by President George Kuhn describes the gathering as a unique alternative for artisans and crafters to display their wares in an ideal environment without the crush of crowds and parking fees. He considers the relaxed country setting a perfect place for friends and neighbors to gather and enjoy local churches’ baked goods, live music, an affordable meal, and ice cream from Antietam Dairy, an ever-welcome fixture at MountainFest.
Robert Eyler of Rocky Ridge provided fare from his food truck on Saturday and Sunday. The menu included hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, and other items, but he sold out of pit beef and soup both days, a testament to the popularity of Eyler’s chow.
MountainFest is the only fundraiser held by the NFCCA. It primarily benefits students through the Catoctin feeder school system who choose to apply for scholarships. George, whose duties include vendor registration and assignment of spaces, explained that there are three categories of scholarships, including academic, auto industry, and the lesser known designation for individuals wishing to continue their education.
There were approximately twenty-five exhibitors at the show, including George who had a wide array of antiques and collectibles that he’s found at a variety of sales. He claims no special knowledge, but happily enjoys the quest and how interesting he considers the individual items he finds.
MountainFest draws in crafters and artisans from towns hither and yon. Jack and Holly Olszewski of Cascade, Maryland, displayed their fossils, crystals, minerals, and massive teeth from the ancient megaladon.
Jerry Stiffler from Wellsville, Pennsylvania, builds distinctive cupboards and shelving fashioned from salvaged antique wood from deserted barns and other buildings slated for demolition. He strives to learn the age and history of the structure and includes that information with the purchase of each piece.
Another popular draw was hand-crafted jewelry by Deanna Maginnis from Myersville, Maryland, who designs and fabricates her own jewelry from a variety of beads to semi-precious stones, including freshwater pearls to Swarovski crystals.
Sunday, the emerging sun illuminated glistening chrome and shiny paint jobs, highlighting another popular feature of MountainFest, the much anticipated annual car show, founded over thirty years ago by the late Kenny Tressler.
George Kuhn credits the continued success of the car show to current chairman Jason Worth of Sabillasville, who registered 110 antique and classic rides this year. Funds raised from the car show go toward the NFCCA scholarship fund.
Jason, who has helped with the annual car show for six years and been the chairman for three, points out that the show isn’t limited to antique or classic cars, or what car lovers describe as “Detroit Muscle.” Any car can be entered in the show for a $10.00 fee, which allows the entrant to vote for twenty-five awards and a chance at a variety of door prizes offered by local businesses from Thurmont; Emmitsburg; and Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, who generously provide goods and services.
Jason extends his gratitude to everyone who contributed cash and/or door prizes, the gathering of which involves friends and family who volunteer to visit the local businesses and cites ultimate beneficiaries: students looking for a financial boost in their respective hopes to further their education with NFCCA scholarships.
Three additional awards included one for the vehicle that traveled the greatest distance, which hailed from Bunker Hill, West Virginia. The Oldest Vehicle award was bestowed on 1927 Ford Model A. Voted Best in Show was a ’69 Chevelle.
A fitting finale to a beautiful Sunday at MountainFest was punctuated by rumbling thunder from the exhaust systems of the cars, a veritable symphony to any car enthusiast’s ears as the participants departed the show grounds.
The descending sun reflected in the cars spotless paint jobs and flashed like lightning as the show cars headed toward the horizon.
For information, contact George Kuhn at 301-241-3997 or Jason Worth at 301-241-4537.
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