A few patriotic sites in Washington County
PHOTO CAP: Lincoln at Antietam With Pinkerton
A few patriotic sites in Washington County
Washington County, Maryland is the first county in the United States to be named in honor of our first president (out of 31 Washington Counties!).
For 375 years, courageous Marylanders have stood in the forefront of movements towards liberty and achievement of the "American Dream"; events here often shaped what was happening on a national scale. Kings, presidents, soldiers and citizens all have contributed to a rich historic saga played out within our state borders.
Significant patriotic and national heritage sites in Washington County are outlined here - more information may be found online at www.marylandmemories.com.
Shortly after the beginning of the American Revolution, and before Maryland's constitution was adopted, Washington County, Maryland was formed (Sep. 6, 1776). As the first county in the US named after George Washington, it is interesting to note that in 1776, the county's namesake was a commander-in-the-field, and years away from becoming President! Washington Monument State Park: This park is named for the first monument dedicated to George Washington, a rugged stone tower erected on a rocky mountainside by the patriotic citizens of Boonsboro on July 4th in 1827. Hikers enjoy the challenge of the Appalachian Trail and other mountain trails leading through the park, and a history center features exhibits of firearms and Civil War artifacts. This should not be confused with the Washington Monument in Baltimore City, which was the first architectural monument dedicated to Washington BUT several years later in 1842. High atop South Mountain, the FIRST Washington Monument is in Washington County and has 39 steps that climb to the top, and provide an incredible view of the valley below.
Located at: 21843 National Pike, Boonsboro, MD 21713, 301-432-8065, www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/western/washington.html.
Also, see Fort Frederick State Park, and the largest stone fort ever built in the colonies. Fort Frederick served the United States during four wars! Built during the French and Indian Wars, the fort also saw action during Chief Pontiac's War, during the American Revolution, and defended the Union during the Civil War. A skirmish was fought against General Stonewall Jackson's troops on Christmas Day 1861!
Located eighteen miles west of Hagerstown - one mile south of I-70 (Rt. 56 Exit 12) near Big Pool, Maryland. Call: 301-842-2155, or see: www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/western/fortfrederick.html.
Several special events during the year, including an 18th Century Market Faire!_Shaping a Nation: The Civil War Years_The mid-1800s saw dramatic change in the United States as two different ways of life - industrial in the North and agricultural in the South - struggled to maintain their balance. The country went to battle with itself - with Maryland firmly planted in the middle. Because of its geographical placement, Maryland could truly see both sides of the issues. The state was home to both Union and Confederate soldiers, but ultimately Maryland sided with the North; the state literally surrounded the Union capital of Washington, DC, after all. During this time in American history, abolitionists helped escaping slaves navigate the "Underground Railroad" along routes in Washington County, Maryland and delivered their messages of civil rights.
Antietam National Battlefield: On September 17, 1862, 87,000 Union troops and 41,000 Confederates fought in a one-day battle that resulted in more than 23,110 injuries and deaths. The battlefield is considered the most pristine in the United States and today is marked only by monuments and exhibits. A visitor's center shows a film and provides a good starting point for a tour of the area. On the first Saturday in December, the battlefield is lined with luminaries - one to represent each soldier who shed blood that day - for a very moving pre-holiday memorial.
Route 65, Sharpsburg Pike, Sharpsburg, MD 21782, 310-432-5124, www.nps.gov/anti.
Also see the Pry House Field Hospital Museum, off Route 34. The museum is the house where General McClellan commanded the Union Troops during the battle, and it became the birthplace for modern emergency battlefield medicine. Triage was invented here.
Boonsborough Museum of History: Anyone visiting nearby Antietam National Battlefield should stop at this small museum to see the countless Civil War relics that were unearthed from the areas surrounding the battlefield. 113 N. Main Street, Boonsboro, MD 21713, 301-432-6969
Gathland State Park: Once the mountain home of George Alfred Townsend, a Civil War journalist, it is now the site of a unique collection of buildings and structures that he designed and constructed, some of which have been restored and are open for tours. A large, stone monument dedicated to war correspondents from the Civil War to the present is a main attraction. The park property also encompasses the entirety of Crampton's Gap, which was the southernmost gap fought over during the Battle of South Mountain. Fought September 14, 1862, it was the first major battle of the Civil War to occur in Maryland. Located on Route 17, 1 mile west of Burkittsville, MD www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/western/gathland.html.
Defending a Nation: The World War II Years_In the 1940s, Marylanders and the rest of the nation went to war in Europe and Japan. Due in part to its proximity to Washington, D.C., Maryland was home to research and testing facilities for military operations. Maryland-based defense industries helped build the ships and aircraft for the US and its allies. In addition, the state has become the "resting place" for important military memorabilia, tanks and vessels. The best airplanes in the world were manufactured in Hagerstown, by the Fairchild Aircraft Company!
Fort Ritchie played a huge role in training soldiers, and helped win the war! During World War II, Fort Ritchie became the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Training Center, the first time in the history of the U.S. military that it had a facility for this type of centralized intelligence training. The Army found the site appealing for intelligence training because of its proximity to Washington, D.C., its remote location, and because the physical features of the camp and surrounding terrain were conducive to training. Once soldiers arrived, they were told not to identify themselves as "military intelligence" to anyone, not even their families. Thousands lived and worked at Fort Ritchie during World War II. The Army conducted signal intelligence training, instruction regarding interrogation techniques and close-combat training (in a mock German village constructed at the site) throughout the war. More than 10,000 students graduated from the Army's intelligence program at Fort Ritchie by the end of the war. A new museum is being planned, and artifacts and exhibits will display the history of the former-US Army fort.
Hagerstown Aviation Museum, located in the Discovery Station Museum at 101 West Washington Street, Hagerstown. The collection includes exhibits and displays of the more than 75 years of aviation manufacturing in Hagerstown. The museum also has a large collection of rare and historic aircraft at the Hagerstown Regional Airport. Several open houses at the airport are hosted annually by the museum (to show off the museum's C-82, C-119, PT-19's, and other warbirds).
For more information, see: www.hagerstownaviationmuseum.org.
For information about Discovery Station, see: www.discoverystation.org.
Lots to Do!
Washington County is home to all or part of five National Parks, eight State Parks, and over 30 museums. Ranked first in the State of Maryland in Retail Opportunities, Washington County is home to Prime Outlets-Hagerstown, wonderful regional shopping centers, antique malls, and unique downtown shopping. With terrific dining selections, Washington County is home to several destination restaurants.
For more information about Hagerstown and Washington County, see: www.marylandmemories.org.
Historical Washington County is part of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area (see: www.heartofthecivilwar.org) and also plays a significant role in the Anniversary of John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry (see: www.johnbrownraid.org).
This information was provided by the Hagerstown/Washington County Convention and Visitor's Bureau - www.marylandmemories.com