I had a fantastic morning before work snowboarding & skiing with local folk hero/historian, Ed King, who has 77 years of life lessons and life long memories & experiences that provide much more insight than a Google search! Ed is a colleague of mine here at Long and Foster who is respected immensely by the people of Garrett County. While on the chairlift the other morning, he shared his memories of the blight that destroyed the queen of timber in the Appalachians, The Chestnut Tree. Our fascinating and unique history here in the United States always revolved around perseverance and ingenuity when faced with disaster, and the chestnut tree has engrained itself in the fables. The chestnut tree has run a full circle of life going from a huge part of the economy, then being wiped out, reclaimed, recycled, reused, and eventually re-established for the future.
The lightweight American chestnut tree was of huge economic importance to the people of Garrett County for many reasons. It was an extremely important component because it could grow to 100’ tall with huge diameters around the base, equating to a large amount of lumber. The tree has a reddish-brown color characteristic that was lightweight, soft, easy to split, very resistant to decay and did not shrink or warp, which made it a goldmine for a developing country.
Unfortunately, a very deadly blight/fungus was introduced in 1904 from the Orient and after 40 years of contamination the Chestnut stands were completely demised throughout Garrett County and the Appalachians. Because of their natural resistance to rot, these dead trees stood for many years as ghosts in the vast forest. The fact that they were very dry was a serious concern for the National Parks, as they were considered fire hazards. Mr. King told me that back then you could go the National Forest and ask for a certain amount of trees and they would give you a paint color to use so you could paint the trees you wanted to cut at a later date. You can imagine that this cheap valuable resource became the go-to wood for locals here at the lake.
When looking for real estate here at the lake, you will often hear of homes where they have reclaimed wormy chestnut and used them in construction details. You probably wonder how the tree got their famous wormy characteristics. After the tree stood year-after-year, the worms started to bore through the lifeless trees so that after harvesting them it would give them the patented black wormy trails through the beautiful red-brown chestnut grain.
The next time you run into a home decked out in wormy chestnut while looking for real estate here at Deep Creek Lake, remember the interesting history associated to this special tree.
History Buffs, have I got something to share with you that is a mere 15 minutes up the road from Deep Creek Lake. Next time you are here at the lake get on 219 south and head to Oakland; you will be rewarded for your efforts once you get to the 1884 Oakland Train Station! This beautifully architected building is actually the 3rd building to occupy this location through the years. The first was a small two-story wooden building that was constructed after the railroad arrival in 1851. Unfortunately, a fire from the nearby Glades Hotel consumed the railway structure in 1874. During the interim, a one-story building was erected to serve as the train station until the current masterpiece was built in 1884. Original architect E. Francis Baldwin described his creation by using the term “Queen Anne Style”, which is highlighted by the rounded telegraph tower and roof that really gives the building its signature personality
The town of Oakland purchased the entire train station property in 1998. It has since become the center piece of Oakland’s “revitalization work” that was finished in 2000. There was a time in history when steam locomotives were the norm, and a 250,000 gallon water tank that stood 50’ tall occupied the East side of the station. It remained in tact until the 1920’s when it was de-constructed.
Oakland was once a very busy hub for transportation greeting 8 long distance express passenger trains a day in the 1940’s and 1950’s. During this time you could hail a train in St. Louisand be in Washingtonin in almost 24 hours. What a remarkable trip that must have been winding and carving through this amazing land at a wonderful time in history. Take your own trip back in time and try to put yourself back where the roar of the train whistle echoed through the foothills of beautiful Garrett Countyand the roots of train travel were paving the way to the industrial revolution.
The State of Wisp Resort, Deep Creek Lake, MD. I’d like to try to clarify the state of Wisp Resort and the surrounding real estate on the mountain. There have been rumors and sensationalism in some of the headlines and I would like to try to state the facts as I know them.
First of all, Wisp Resort, which is owned by Recreational Industries, owns the ski resort and Wisp’s public golf course. Wisp Resort itself is a healthy, vibrant, profitable business and is poised to begin snowmaking for the 2011/12 season in less than 90 days. The first scheduled date for ski area operations is Friday, November 25 and Wisp is about to complete a positive record-breaking summer operation. To get an idea of the degree of success, gross revenues at Wisp have risen from $9 million to $16 million over a 5-year period with profitability increased more than three-fold.
The Lodestone Golf Course and surrounding home sites were developed by Wisp Resort Development (WRD). The decline in the economy couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Lodestone golf course and the surrounding homesites, putting a strain on WRD’s ability to meet their new obligations. Just 20 of the 60 developed sites in Lodestone have been sold and the remaining 137 sites are still in the development stage. Having spent the last 24 years of my life building golf courses that support the surrounding real estate development, I can testify that typically these developments sold out in a very short time. The good news is that the Lodestone course has been ranked as #3 best play in Maryland and #7 best new course in the country; however, even with an extremely high quality golf course, the homesite market is still quite slow. WRD reports that it is attempting to work with BB&T in an attempt to restructure its loan; meanwhile, there will be no interruption in activities at Wisp Resort.
Since its founding in 1955, Wisp has made Maryland’s westernmost county a year-round tourist destination. Vacation homes, some worth millions, ring the 3,600-acre lake. The ski resort is the county’s sixth largest employer with a workforce that swells from 225 in the summer to 650 in the winter. I spoke to Karen Myers, who has ownership interest in both Wisp and Lodestone, who said with her familiar, optimistic smile, “We operate a successful, thriving recreation business at Wisp Resort and we will do everything in our power to turn around the real estate development side of the business as well. Of course, we cannot control the national economy but we can make sure that our Wisp and Lodestone communities have the very best amenities and are offered to consumers at reasonable and affordable prices. Being a 10th generation Garrett Countian, I feel certain that the tenacity that has been passed down through the generations will see us through this economic crisis as well.”
The Casselman Bridge. Did you know that GarrettCounty has one of the oldest surviving span bridges in the country? Just a short 15 minute drive from Deep Creek Lake and you can visit The Casselman River State Park. The Casselman River Bridge was originally built in 1813 as a part of the old National Road. At the time of its construction, this 80 foot stone arch bridge was the longest single-span bridge in theUnited States. The bridge remained in service until 1933, when a new steel bridge was built nearby. Today, the bridge is listed as a National Historic Landmark and serves as a scenic remnant of Maryland’s history. Be sure to check it out on your next visit.
Deep Creek Lake Garrett County History “Trail To Kendall”
Garrett County’s history is immense and vast. If you look hard enough you can find little nooks and crannies from the past that are very interesting to explore and visit. Sometimes no matter how hard you look all you will be left with are just memories of another time in American history. This weekend, I stumbled upon a hike along the Youghiogheny River, upriver from Friendsville, that leads to the once thriving old lumber town known as Kendall. My wife, Betsy, and I took our French Mastiff down the trail that starts on the Eastern Side of the Yough right under the I-68 highway bridge, the bridge that spans the river, and headed two miles to this mysterious extinct town.
Facts. In 1889, the Confluence and Oakland Railroad was extended upriver from Friendsville along the Youghiogheny River to start a new milling operation in Garrett County. Immediately, houses, a church, and a school were erected to become home to the many workers brought in by the sawmill operation. The first company to build a sawmill was Yough Manor Lumber Company and the town birthed its first name of Yough Manor. Next came in A. Knapp Company, which setup a stave mill in 1891. The town’s name was then changed to Krug after Henry Krug who was an A. Knapp Company official. Then during the early 20th century the town took its 3rd and final name of Kendall after the Kendall Lumber Company that operated there for a fair amount of time until the timber business diminished in the 1920’s. The McCullough Coal Mine Company was the last company to operate in the town. The Confluence and Oakland Railroad was removed in the 1940’s and the buildings and houses that were remaining completely disappeared. They say that all that remains now are a few house foundations and piles of saw dust. We would soon find out…
During our hike along the river, we had the beautiful spring thaw flowing down the river to our right and had numerous runoff branch streams screaming off the mountain to our left. Our dog, Mali, pounced down the bank of the river throughout our entire hike trying to catch some mysterious critters that we never did see surface! Her nose was buried in the dirt trying to locate a scent that may give her a clue as to where the mystery rodents were hiding. We walked for about 1-1/2 hours, and to be honest with you, never saw any remnants of the old town of Kendall, like old foundations or piles of sawdust. We did see a man-made “wall” of some sort along the way but really the star of the hike was… well…the hike! We kept an eagle eye out for the town of Kendall but had an excellent time exploring a unique and special area that even my 12th generation Garrett County wife, Betsy, had never experienced before. If you are looking for a nice place to relax far away from the crowds, where you can walk through the footprints of our past down a rail line to significant Garrett County history then put the Trail to Kendall on your lists of things to experience.
Side fact. Did you know that Wisp Resorts ski in/ ski out community Kendall Camp was named after this mysterious old town?
Deep Creek Lake-Garrett County History. Long before Deep Creek Lake came into existence it had plenty of history pre-dating the area as we know it now. Native American artifacts uncover that many tribes like the Cherokee, Delaware (Lanape), and Shawnee have extensive history here in Western Maryland. The Mingo Tribe were indigenous people to the area who annually returned to mountaintops to hunt, fish, plant crops, and trade. There is evidence left from floods through the Potomac River Valley that indicate that some villages have been in existence for over 2000 years.
The first known permanent resident /settler of the Garrett County area was John Friend Sr., who came from the Colony of Virginia with his brother Andrew and son Gabriel in 1762. Eventually they ended up at an Indian village along the Youghiogheny River, which now bears the family name, Friendsville.
In 1872, they divided Allegheny County and formed Garrett County, which was the last County to be formed in Maryland. The county was named after railroad executive, industrialist, and financier John Work Garrett who served as president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from 1858-1884. An interesting fact to note is that the Maryland-Pennsylvania line was surveyed and marked by astronomer Charles Mason and surveyor Jeremiah Dixon. This famous dividing point became known as the Mason Dixon Line, which symbolized the cultural boundary between the Northern and Southern United States, Garrett County representing the South.
In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson signed a bill from the United States Congress setting aside money for building the National Railroad. This was to be the first federally constructed highway in the nation stretching from Cumberland, Maryland to Wheeling, West Virginia. As Americans, we all are very fortunate to live in the greatest country in the world that possesses abundant history and keeps us grounded on where we have been and where we are going in life.
Although we are experiencing another wonderful snow-filled winter in Deep Creek Lake, it will not be long before spring is here and our friend the ‘Black Bear’ is coming out of hibernation! I thought it would be a good idea to talk about some bear safety and do’s and don’ts from what I have read, and from personal experience living here on Wisp Mountain.
Hiking or Camping: First of all, most attacks are mother bears defending their cubs. I know that baby bear cubs are very cute, but if you see a cub you need to distance yourself calmly and immediately because the mother cub is always close by. Mother bears are very defensive of their cubs so be respectful of their family; do not underestimate the mother’s fury. The old saying, “you attract what you fear”, comes to play when dealing with any wild animal. Remain calm! Slowly back away from a bear confrontation until the bear ignores you. At your campsite, bang pots and pans & yell and clap loudly to try to keep the bear moving away from you. Wave your hands as high as possible to appear larger. Never turn your back on a bear and never run. Running attracts any animal to pursue you. Always cook and store your food at least 100 feet from your camp. Store your food in Tupperware and keep it in a tree 30 feet off the ground and 15 feet from the tree trunk. Remember, bears are very agile tree climbers. My husband and I witnessed a mother and cub grazing through our front yard a few summers back and the playful cub climbed every other 60 foot tree in seconds. The mother occasionally will do the same. It’s hard to comprehend the lightning speed that the bears possess.
Vacationers at Deep Creek Lake- The Department of Natural Resources were called in to help us a few summers back to deal with a bear problem in our neighborhood. Reason being….food in trash cans. People have to understand the importance of keeping trash cans away in their garages or securing them tightly in outside containers. Bears can be huge scavengers if there is a steady food source. Too many mornings going to work or driving around the lake I see trash heaped up improperly outside and you can bet you will find trash littered from dozens of homes all the way up and down the roads of DCL when this happens. First of all, it becomes a huge littering problem for the lake but more importantly it could put your family and children in harms way. Also, some locals think it’s nice to set out food so they can witness the bears eating it. It’s never a good idea to feed the bears; they will become reliant on humans to supply their food source and it quickly becomes habit-forming, creating bear problems within our neighborhood. Lets all be respectful of the bear’s natural habitat and the safety of local and out-of-state residents. Deep Creek Lake is a very special place where we are lucky to interact with a massive amount of wildlife so let’s take a few precautions to respect and enjoy the bears presence in our lives.
Deep Creek Lake and Wisp Resorts 55th Birthday Party
Wisp Resort has reached another epic milestone this weekend as they celebrated their 55th Birthday as the go-to ski resort on the East Coast. What better way to celebrate than bringing in Food Network’s most popular cake artists, Charm City Cakes. Duff Goldman led the charge straight off the snowboard slope to christen and cut the cake with his crew. It was standing room only on Sunday in the Wisp Lodge to get a glimpse of the cake re-creation of the Wisp Mountain and the Ski & Golf Resort. The snow has been steadily pounding us here at Deep Creek Lake and skiing conditions are improving with every new inch we receive. Wisp has had their snowmaking efforts rolling around the clock for the last couple weeks to ensure that we had a full parking lot of skiers to celebrate their wonderful milestone Birthday party.
I just wanted to post this article that was written by long-time Deep Creek Lake resident Ed King in response to some negative press that has unjustly been bestowed on our healthy waters here in Garett County. Ed is one of the most loved and respected gentlemen here who has had a life long love & passion for the lake and has devoted large amounts of positive energy looking out for the health and welfare of the area. Ed speaks passionately against negative press that has been written and spoke by uninformed forces.
The State of
Approximately fourteen short stories have been written by me and published in “The Republican” newspaper under the above-referenced header. Topics have included among others the Swan boat, early camps & cottages, children & pets, swimming, water skiing and even my parents’ feelings of pride when I bought my lake property “Dunwanderin” in 1965. Presently, I am about eighty percent along in authoring a book documenting some history about famous boats on Deep Creek Lake.
Deep Creek Lake is a place I truly love. Every morning is a joy to awake, look out across the water, and see the beautiful mature oaks and hemlocks that frame our view. I enjoy the four seasons. In fact, my wife, Jean, coined the phrase that’s incorporated in some of our sales media: “Deep Creek Lake … a place for every season of your life.”
That place for every season phrase has really been true to my experience from 1933 when my parents camped along Cherry Creek, when they brought me in a baby buggy, up to the present day being the autumn of my life. A typical summer season finds me bicycling or kayaking each morning followed by a swim. Yes, a swim in Deep Creek Lake. Often after a day of work I pour a glass of wine and relax by the water and may take another dip before dinner.
Each season brings with it a variety of aspects of Garrett County and Deep Creek to be enjoyed. For example, you’ll regularly find me still water skiing and snow skiing. Or on a winter evening I may be reading a book next to a crackling fire in the living room. Regardless of one’s age or the time of year, there is always something wonderful about being here.
Deep Creek has matured in the past decade and in positive ways for the most part. We now have first-run films in an 8-plex theater, several miniature golf courses, the annual arts season including performances by the Pittsburgh Symphony, four major golf courses, a county Visitor Center, the recirculating whitewater course (one of only two in the U.S.A.), and great food services. In recognition of improvements at Wisp resort, there now is better snowmaking capability, more lifts and slopes, the renovated Wisp Resort Hotel, the mountain coaster and, the newest attraction, the Flying Squirrel zip line. Deep Creek offers so much more than the beauty of the natural resource itself. There is a strong infrastructure that has grown up around it.
While I cannot claim having anything to do with the creation of this lake and it’s attractions that I love so much, I have devoted the past thirty years to personally participating in the protection of the natural resource and also in the planning of county and state regulations as they relate to the lake. I refrain from enumerating the various boards, committees, memberships and associations with which I am and have been involved. I prefer to keep a low profile and speak out only when I feel it is necessary and then only in a positive frame of reference.
An article in the August 6, 2010, “Baltimore Sun” by Timothy B. Wheeler about Deep Creek Lake is the impetus for my speaking out now. That article is full of “cry wolf” scare statements to which I feel compelled to set a few things straight. First, yes, there are concerns and issues that need to be monitored and recorded to insure the long-term health of this resource. However, to cry wolf when there is no need to do so is not the way to approach those concerns and issues. The Property Owners’ Association of Deep Creek Lake, Inc., the State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources Policy and Review Board, the Garrett County Board of Realtors, the Chamber of Commerce and other County and State agencies are very concerned about issues such as sewage spills, fish kills, low water levels, and vegetation growing in the lake.
All of the aforementioned associations, organizations, departments and offices are working to address the issues in a responsible and professional manner. Shame on you, “Baltimore Sun” and Mr. Wheeler, for writing such a one-sided, devastating, negative article that in fewer than two weeks has had a most detrimental impact on the Garrett County economy. In Mr. Wheeler’s article there is mention of a forum to be held the very next day, August 7, comprised of scientists and government officials, including Mr. John Wilson, Secretary of the D.N.R., to speak on the “State of the Lake.” To anyone’s knowledge, the “Sun” did not have a reporter attend that forum and write a follow-up article addressing all viewpoints on the issues. The “Sun” instead chose to publish its sensationalist, attention-grabbing article titled “Residents Concerned About Deep Creek Lake’s Future.”
We who live here are all concerned about the long-term health of Deep Creek Lake. Basically, however, the “Sun” article is one-sided, most of it negative, and representing only a few inquiries to consider opinions of others. There were several presentations at the August 7, 2010, Forum. No information by any presenter at that forum was indicative of an immediate problem or concern with a high level of e-coli or fishing or swimming in the lake. Secretary John Wilson answered the question “Is the lake healthy?” with a resounding ‘yes.’ He commented further that the DNR is keeping a watchful eye on several matters.
The “Sun” article mentioned canaries in the mine. The only gas in the mine at Deep Creek Lake is people breathing out unfounded, negative remarks. If the “Sun” quoted from the “Friends of Deep Creek Lake,” I challenge the statement that “only renters swim in the lake.” Not true. Do you wonder if those people are really friends of Deep Creek Lake? I personally swim once or twice a day and water ski every weekend in the southern lake coves along with numerous other residents.
There is no intention on my part to cover up or ignore any issues. I love this lake and will not tolerate negativity to drive a campaign to address the issues. In participation with responsible agencies, well-thought-out approaches are a far
better avenue to reach needed resolutions.
It was reported to me that on Sunday, August 8, a person in a canoe and thought to be Mrs. Beelar was advising renters on the shores of Hickory Ridge not to fish, eat the fish, or swim in the lake. That was the day after officials speaking at the Forum organized by “Friends of Deep Creek Lake” gave no indication of such alarming precautions. Are those people really friends of the lake? I cannot stand silently by while alarmists bad-mouth the lake.
Mrs. Beelar and “Friends of Deep Creek Lake” are all people who obviously care and have done good things for the lake. Their good deeds should not be negated by their cries-of-wolf tactics. Rather, we ask them to go forward and continue working on the issues in a positive manner. I, for one, shall always love Deep Creek Lake and wish for others to enjoy it as well for the long term.