Garrett State Forest: The birthplace of Maryland’s state forests

Garrett State Forest is the birthplace of forestry conservation in Maryland.  It is important to note the key role Garrett County and its public lands played in preserving the natural environment. 

garrett state forest

Garrett State Forest History

During the early 1900’s, just 20% of mature forest cover existed east of the Mississippi.  The previous century saw large scale timber operations greatly exceed timber growth.  One of the results was large, uncontrolled forest fires that further damaged the fragile environment.  Most of Maryland’s forests were populated with small stands of regenerating seedlings or saplings.  Large trees were truly an unusual sight. 

In response to the deplorable conditions of the state’s forests, the descendants of one of Garrett County’s founding fathers issued a challenge to the state government.   John and Robert Garrett were heirs to the B&O Railroad fortune who offered a generous donation of nearly 2,000 acres of forest land on one “small” condition.  The state must create a department specifically for the management and supervision of public lands.  Accepting the gift and the conditions, a forestry law was passed in 1906 establishing a Board of Forestry.  This made it the third state in the Union to enact such a law.  The tract of land donated by the Garrett brothers became is part of what is now Garrett State Forest, Maryland’s first state forest.  It has expanded over time to include about 8,000 acres of mountain forests, streams and valleys. 

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Casselman River Bridge State Park

Casselman River Bridge State Park attracts everyone from ardent anglers to hardcore history buffs.  Once part of a busy thoroughfare known as “Little Crossings,” the four acre park is home to both trophy size trout and a bridge that made history with its innovative design.

Casselman Bridge

About the Casselman River

Rising  atop the plateau of Western Maryland, the Casselman River follows a great arc across the Laurel Highlands of Somerset County, PA to the appropriately named town of Confluence, where Laurel Hill Creek joins a few yards above the Youghiogheny River.  The Casselman River is relatively wide and has a variety of habitats. Anglers will find deep runs, large deep holes and even some pocket water. The streambed consists of mainly cobble-size stone, making wading easier when compared to other area rivers. Natural flows can fluctuate especially during the spring, so be sure to check with the DNR for flow conditions. Flows less than 150 cubic feet per second (cfs) are typically considered good fishing flows. The trout fishery in the Casselman River Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Area is managed using adult hatchery brown and rainbow trout stocked each spring and fall. Many of these trout are truly trophy size and can reach sizes greater than 5 pounds! The Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Area management scheme includes a Catch and Release Season when anglers may use artificial lures or flies only. Consult the Maryland Freshwater Sportfishing Guide for complete details.  Keep in mind that most of the land bordering the Casselman River is privately owned farmland.  The Casselman River Bridge State Park is the only public land bordering the Delayed Harvest Area.

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Garrett County’s History of Hosting Vacationers

Garrett County’s cool summers, crisp mountain air and breathtaking scenery have lured visitors to the area for over 150 years.  Long before Deep Creek Lake or Wisp Resort were even a thought, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad transported wealthy summer patrons out of the city heat to the grand hotels and elaborate summer cottages of Oakland, Deer Park, Loch Lynn and Mountain Lake Park. 

Deer Park

During the post Civil War period, the B&O Railroad increased its passenger traffic by capitalizing on cool Garrett County summers.  In the days before air conditioning, it became quite fashionable escape to the mountains from the oppressive urban heat.  This expansion spawned a chain of posh hotels along the route west.  B&O built two new resort retreats on the mountain top during the 1870’s.  The first to be completed was the Deer Park Hotel, which opened for business on July 4th, 1873.  Featuring a golf course, a building for billiards and bowling, private rental cottages and a large glass-covered bath house containing two swimming pools as well as Turkish and Russian baths, it was quite a spectacle in rural Garrett County.  The Deer Park attracted many famous visitors over the years including General Ulysses S. Grant and President Grover Cleveland, who honeymooned at the resort. 

garrett countys

The overwhelming success of the Deer Park inspired the construction of another hotel just a few years later.  Located along the tracks and across from the train Oakland train station, the Oakland Hotel featured a large ballroom, accommodations for over a hundred guests, and a large park of maple, oak and pine.  In 1883, Alexander Graham Bell took a “working vacation” at the Oakland hotel and oversaw the installation of Garrett County’s first telephone service.  A line connected the Oakland and Deer Park resorts which were about five miles apart. 

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How Did Accident Get Its Name?

How Did Accident Get Its Name? That is a question that you are often asked when you live in Garrett County. Visitors pass through this charming small town on the way to the lake. With two active listings in Accident, Maryland, I thought I would share the history behind the funny name.

how did accident get its name

How Did Accident Get Its Name?

There are a few different accounts of the origin of the name. I will share the one that is most commonly agreed upon.

Back in 17774, the lands west of Fort Cumberland were opened for settlement. Lord Baltimore was the Proprietor of the Maryland Colony at that time. Many speculators hurried to travel to Western Maryland. They wanted to secure the best tracts of land. Continue reading How Did Accident Get Its Name?