Woodmont Natural Resources Management Area
Woodmont Natural Resources Management Area
Situated seven miles southwest of Hancock, MD, the former Woodmont Rod & Gun Club comprises approximately 3,425 acres. In 1995, Woodmont was acquired by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and DNR entered into a unique partnership and lease agreement with the Izaak Walton League of America. The league formed a local Woodmont Chapter to manage the leased 1400 acres that includes the lodge, Camp Cleveland, lakes, and game farm. From October 1st to March 31st each year, the Chapter has exclusive use of the 1,400 acres and funds generated from their activities proved for the maintenance and operation of Woodmont and its conservation activities and programs. From April 1st to September 30th, DNR manages the public use of the 1,400 acres. The remaining 2,000 acres of the Woodmont property are open for public use on a year round basis.
Organized in 1870 as a premiere hunting club, Woodmont was in continuous operation for almost 125 years. The original owners of the property were wealthy and influential businessmen from Washington who enjoyed the abundant opportunities to pursue wild game. Woodmont Rod and Gun Club was formed shortly after the purchase of the land. Woodmont continued to be a retreat for the powerful men of Washington, DC for many years until the clubhouse and all its records burned in 1903. Following this incident, the original club dissolved and they decided to sell the land.
In 1908, Henry Bridges, a lawyer and successful businessman from Hancock, organized a group of wealthy friends who were sportsmen, and purchased the land. The club became "The Woodmont Rod and Gun Club of Baltimore City," and Henry Bridges became the secretary-treasurer. In its first year, a clubhouse was built under Bridge's direction. In 1930, this building was replaced by a massive three-story fieldstone structure still in use today. Massive beams, wood paneling and floors, and huge stone fireplaces formed an appropriate background for more that six-hundred game trophies around the building. The upstairs held numerous bedrooms for members to use during their visits. Great leather chairs, bear skin rugs, and photographs of special guests did and still do fill the rooms today.
Henry Bridges created a wildlife haven at Woodmont. Bridges started a wild turkey breeding program, using the old clubhouse as the center of operations. In addition to turkeys, Bridges imported large white-tailed deer from Michigan to breed with the smaller, resident deer. This produced a larger, Woodmont variety, which stayed primarily within the confines of the Woodmont preserve because of a nine-foot high fence erected around the preserve.
Henry Bridges died in 1957. The responsibility of managing the Club fell to E.T. Andrews, a major shareholder in the non-profit corporation. Since that time, the breeding programs have been continued and expanded to include several varieties of pheasant. Forest management plans also were placed under effect. In 1986, Henry Roemer became the resident manager until 1995, when the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Izzak Walton League of America purchased Woodmont.
Currently, Woodmont is managed as a cooperative effort under the Fort Frederick State Park Complex and the MD Wildlife & Heritage Service. Several special events are held at the Lodge and on the property throughout the year. For more information, contact Fort Frederick State Park at 301-842-2155.
Six U.S. Presidents, various senators and congressmen, Babe Ruth, Gene Tunney, Amos & Andy, and Richard Mellon, are among the many famous and influential guests of the lodge.
Several of the stream valleys on the property are underlain with the rock type, which forms shale barrens, a unique habitat often harboring rare plant or insect life.
Several of the stones used in the fireplaces came from historical sites and people. One of the stones came from the stone walls of Fort Frederick while another was a surveyor's stone used by George Washington.
The lodge itself encloses 18, 785 square feet and offers a panoramic view of West Virginia and the Potomac River.
Woodmont is located 15 minutes south from I-68 off of Woodmont Road. From Interstate 68, take exit 77. Turn left onto U.S. 40, then turn right onto Woodmont Rd. Follow for approximately 6 miles. Signs mark the entrance to the lodge.
This information was provided by the Hagerstown/Washington County Convention and Visitor's Bureau (www.marylandmemories.com) copied from The Department of Natural Resources website, where you can earn more about Woodmont Lodge - www.dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/western/woodmont.asp.