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  B&O / Garrett Room
  Hotels Room
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  Industrial Room
  Victorian Room
  Military Room
  Cabin Room
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Explore Our Treasures

The Garrett County Historical Museum houses a treasure trove of exhibits related to the founding of Garrett County, the history of the land, and the way of life for Garrett County citizens from years past.

Museum Summer Hours: May 1st. Monday through Saturday 10:00am - 3:00pm.
Museum Winter Hours: January through May 1st. Open Thursday Friday & Saturday 10am - 3pm.
Closed Major Holidays. Please call first - 301-334-3226.

It is primarily a self-guided facility but we are happy to provide tour services as well.

Visit over 200 Years of Garrett County in one afternoon. You will be transported to an era when hotels were bustling with business, trains came through town 12 times a day, and Deep Creek Lake was merely a stream.

The Deer Park Hotel was one of the most successful hotels in the nation and the county became a tranquil, mountain paradise with the excitement of new businesses everywhere.

You'll see a replica of a B&O train referred to as "Little Maryland." The train, built by Stephen Pagenhart, began when he was only 16 years old. The fully operational replica train took him three years to complete and was featured in the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.

The Museum features a variety of artifacts that will take you through generations of Garrett County history and immerse you in a world of changing culture. The Museum is an exciting trip for the whole family —  a fun, friendly, entertaining place to visit that only takes a short time to tour.


Exhibitions

The Exhibitions feature 9 rooms, each showcasing a specific era in Garrett County History.

The B&O/Garrett Room offers a look into the life of John Garrett and the impact of the B&O Railroad in Garrett County.

The B&O was America's first railroad and was started in Baltimore in 1827. Baltimore's merchants and bankers funded the B&O as a means to connect Baltimore to the Ohio River, more than three hundred miles away. The investors were skeptical as to whether the railroad would ever function. As the first train was loaded on the tracks, the investors waited to see whether their money went to a success or just a novel idea by some wealthy businessmen. The engine traveled the tracks to the Ohio River with no problem and started the era of the locomotives. For years the B&O was the premier means of transportation, carrying everyone from Presidents to business owners to the occasional family who needed to make a trip to town.

The B&O was functional and now it needed a President. John Work Garrett was elected President in 1858 and traveled across the nation with the B&O. Garrett met many influential leaders during his travels, including President Abraham Lincoln. During a trip, Garrett had to stop in a small town in Western Maryland. Garrett loved the beautiful landscape and the rugged appearance of the town and built a cottage in Deer Park. In 1872, this small tract of land split from Allegheny County and formed its own county. Garrett County was named after John Work Garrett in honor of all his contributions to the area. Oakland was elected as the county seat and continues to serve as the central location.
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The Hotels Room takes a step back into the days of the glamorous Deer Park and Oakland Hotels, as well as several other small hotels, and how these hotels turned Garrett County into a luxurious vacation spot.

The success of the B&O Railroad led John Garrett to venture into a new frontier: hotels.
Garrett wanted the B&O to build a hotel in Deer Park and Oakland, but before construction could begin the Civil War broke out. The railroads were needed to carry supplies to the troops, and so the idea of luxury hotels in Garrett County was put on hold.
After the war, the Deer Park Hotel was built in 1873. The Oakland Hotel followed shortly in 1876.

The Deer Park Hotel was one of the most famous hotels in the country in the late 1800's. It furnished a bowling alley, an 18-hole golf course, a tennis court, a riding stable, and 2 swimming pools (one for men and one for women). The Deer Park Hotel caught fire in 1944 and due to the fading popularity of the railroads for passenger travel, it was never rebuilt.

The Oakland Hotel was the second largest hotel to be built in Garrett County. The hotel was constructed closer to the railroad so passengers just staying for the evening would not have a long journey to and from the station. With about 12 trains a day stopping in Garrett County, the B&O decided to construct a hotel that would be used for shorter stays. One of the most notable events at the Oakland Hotel was the late 19th century stay by Alexander Graham Bell. He stayed for several weeks to hook up the first functional phone line in Garrett County between the Oakland and Deer Park Hotels.
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The Schools Room, which also serves as the gift shop, features business and commerce in early Garrett County.
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The Arts and Recreation Room is a look back to the days of ole' Opry houses and a time when each town had their own boys band. At the turn of the century, Garrett County was bustling with business. Whether it was the railroad, the hotels, or the newly emerging businesses, the County was about to begin a new era of the arts.

Visitors' fascination with the area's beauty was matched by their allure of the Mountain Chautauqua or one of the many boys bands. One new and exciting feature to the area was an Opera House in downtown Oakland. The theatre was three stories tall and housed a restaurant on the first floor. The second floor was just for tickets and the box office and the third floor was the actual theatre stage and seating. On a night when a production was showing, there were at least a hundred horse drawn carriages lining the street.

This time of the arts was also marked by a time of desperation as the Great Depression of the 1930s hit Garrett County. President Roosevelt enacted the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to help young boys earn money. The boys were given $1.00 a day for their work as well as given food, shelter, and a chance to finish their high school education. The boys lived in cabins near state forests and parks so they would be close to where they worked.

Another popular form of entertainment in Garrett County were the boys' bands. Almost every town in Garrett County had a boy's band where young boys were given the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument and meet new friends. One of the more famous band directors was Henry Mickey of Crellin who directed one of the largest boys bands in the area.
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The Industrial Room will take you on a walk back through the days of coal mining or you may stumble upon an illegal moonshine still.

Garrett County has always had a strong background in the farming and mining industries. Since the county's founding in the mid 19th century, a variety of farming tools have been used and developed in Garrett County. At the turn of the century another industry started to grow: mining. As the mining industry grew, so did the towns. It seemed every little town in Garrett County, at some point, had a mining store. One of the larger mining towns was Vindex, right outside of Kitzmiller. There were 5 coal companies who chose to operate out of Vindex. Currently only West Vindex still stands about a mile off Route 38. When the mines were operating, West Vindex had a population of about 150 people, whereas today only a few houses still stand in the area.

Mining and farming were and continue to be popular forms of industry in Garrett County. But, at the turn of the century a new kind of industry emerged: the trapping and fur industry. Bears proved to be a large problem to farmers and miners alike. They ate the farmers crops and often slept close to mine shafts and made it hard for miners to leave. In return, several farmers began to trap the bears and either sell the fur or release the bear into another area. But, as the fur industry grew the bear population shrunk and laws were enacted to stop the trapping and trading of bears. Currently, traps are only to be used by the DNR to trap bears and safely move them to a new location.
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The Victorian Room is an elegant journey back to the early 20th century when glamour and sophistication where found in every aspect of life. At the turn of the 20th century, the country was obsessed with the glamour and sophistication of the Victorian era. Families in Garrett County began to take note of what the rest of the country was doing and followed suite. Opera houses were one of the most popular forms of entertainment, women began dressing in the finest clothing, and it didn't seem like a Saturday night without 50 carriages lining the street.
Have you ever heard the phrase, "Born with a silver spoon in his mouth?" This phrase literally means what it says. During the Victorian era, wealthy families began buying sterling silver spoons for their young children. If you were seen out using a silver spoon, others knew your family was wealthy. Class and sophistication was the look everyone was going for, even the china and glass companies. Some of the most beautiful pieces of china and glassware came from this era and are still in high demand in today's world.

The Victorian Era was a time of elaborate design. The bed frame and other furniture was the centerpiece of a Victorian bedroom. Quilts from this era were made with elaborate fabrics, such as silk, and included intricate embroidery on almost every square.
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The Military Room covers a span of over 200 years of war and artifacts. Garrett County has always had great pride in the military and those who served and are serving in the current war in Iraq.

The USS Garrett County was launched and commissioned at the Dravo Shipyard on Neville Island in the Ohio River, just a few miles downstream from Pittsburgh. The boat was 428 feet long, had a 50 foot beam, was powered by two General Motors 900 horsepower diesel engines, and had a maximum speed of 12 knots. The USS Garrett County earned 12 combat ribbons, and carried troops in both World War II and the Vietnam War. The ship fled to the Philippines with the fall of the South Vietnam government, and ownership was transferred to the custody of the Philippines. The ship was renamed Kalinga Apayao and used by the Philippines for several years after.

The Civil War broke out just as Garrett County was thinking about becoming a separate county from Allegheny. The problem for most residents in Garrett County at the time was the fact that Maryland fell under the Mason Dixon line and therefore was mostly Confederate. Because it was more of a border state, they had both Union and Confederate armies in the state, Garret County wanted to be part of the Union. When West Virginia broke away from Virginia, Garrett County actually asked to become part of the new state. The Maryland government declined the proposal, and it was not until 1873 that Garrett County finally broke away from Allegheny.

Garrett County was also involved in the United States' dispute with the Indians. The US government in the mid 19th century wanted to move the Indians from their homelands in the north to the plains of the west. The problem was that most of the Indian tribes were not willing to move from their homelands. In return, the government commissioned the army to forcibly move the Indians. Just as this "war" began, the B&O was gaining popularity for it's effective means of transportation. The army saw an easy way to move hundreds of Indian families at one time and began sending the Indians by train to the west. During their trip, the train almost always stopped in Garrett County to get supplies and it has been said that several Indians escaped the train at night and fled to the mountains. While nobody knows if this is really true, it is a known fact that there were large Indian tribes in the county around the mid 19th century and very easily could have been started by a few Indians who escaped the trains.

The final stop on your journey is the
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Cabin Room; a detailed look into the lifestyle of Garrett County residents in the mid-19th century complete with a kitchen and bedroom set. The way of life for most residents of Garrett County in the mid 19th century was very rustic. Almost everyone lived in a 2 or 3 room log cabin they built by hand. There was very little technology and it was not until the B&O came through that people began to work at businesses instead of just farming. It may seem now like it would have been difficult to live that way but it was just the normal way to live at that point in time.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite?" Well this phrase originated in the log cabin era. Most of the beds were made of rope. Several ropes were intertwined into a checkerboard pattern to create a "mattress." These ropes would have to be tightened up every night before bed so that the ropes were tight enough to sleep on. And the bed bugs? Well, the ropes were just basic twine that was used on the farm. When the ropes were brought inside to make a bed, they sometimes still had bugs in them from being outside. So, it always took a few nights to get the ropes comfortable and bug free.

We all know how nice it is to turn on the sink in our bathroom and wash our face in the morning. Or to run water for a nice, hot bath. When you lived in a log cabin, there was no running water. Most families used a dry sink for all of their washing. They would either walk to a river or use a hand pump to get water in their dry sink, then the whole family would use the water all day to wash in or brush their teeth. And if they wanted to take a bath, the family would have to get several tubs full of water, heat it over a fire, put in the tub, and set the tub over coals to keep the water warm.

Cooking kept the cabin warm. Most families used a wood or coal stove and when the stove was hot, it heated the whole house. Garrett County is notorious for its cold weather and a hot house was always nice to come back to in the winter months. Most families were farmers and grew their own vegetables and had their own meat. One downfall to cooking was that it was often done over a fire in the fireplace. The heat coming off the fire was often unbearable for the cook but everyone else was happy to see food.
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Tours

School Tours
Our museum offers a wide variety of options for school tours. The Historical Museum is always pleased to have a group of students come to tour and any and all students are welcome at any time at no cost. A monetary donation from the Stanley P. Smith Family Foundation provides the cost for transporting all Garrett County 4th grade students to and from the Museum. Other grades are welcome to set up a time to tour and will need to provide their own transportation.

At the present time, we are working on a PowerPoint presentation that will be taken to the middle and high school history classes. The Powerpoint will include information about the history of Garrett County, interesting facts about the area, and notable persons. We are also in the process of equipping each room with push button audio equipment. The audio guided tour will provide information about the artifacts in each room.

We have provided a Scavenger Hunt Sheet that can be printed out and brought with the students to the Museum. If you wish for your students to complete the scavenger hunt during their trip to the Museum, please bring a copy of the sheet for each student. We will set aside a 10 minute time slot for the students to complete the scavenger hunt. We also have a Multiple Choice Quiz that can be given to the students after the trip to the Museum. The quiz includes several simple questions that should have been answered during their tour of the Museum. We will provide an answer sheet and the quizzes to the teacher on the day of the tour. More information about school tours can be obtained by contacting the museum.
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Bus Tours
The Garrett County Historical Society and Museum is pleased to provide a tour guide for bus tours to the area. Some common questions asked by visitors to the area are addressed below. If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact the Museum.

How long is a guided tour at the museum?
A tour normally lasts for 45 minutes to 1 hour. This includes just a tour of the museum itself. If your group wishes to tour the St. Matthews Episcopal Church with the Museum tour guide please allow an additional 15 minutes.

Does the Museum provide tours of the B&O Railroad station?
Currently the B & O station is only available for self guided tours. If you wish to set up a tour for the B & O station, you will need to contact the station itself.

Does the Museum have a pavilion for lunch?
The Museum itself does not have a pavilion for a large group. The Fresh Air Pavilion is located a short half mile from the Museum and provides picnic tables for outside dining. If your group wishes to eat in a restaurant, there are several local places to eat that will accommodate a large group.

If your group has any more questions regarding tours, please contact the Museum. Once you have planned your visit to the area, please be sure to contact the Museum about setting up a tour time.
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Individual Tours
The Garrett County Historical Society and Museum is open for self guided tours.
Museum Summer Hours: May 1st. Monday through Saturday 10:00am - 3:00pm.
Museum Winter Hours: January through May 1st. Open Thursday Friday & Saturday 10am - 3pm.

The Museum is primarily run by volunteers and therefore during the business hours we do not have a tour guide on hand at all times. If your group wishes to be given a guided tour, we ask that there be at least 5 people in your group and that you call before your trip so we can have a tour guide available.

If you are stopping in for a tour and do not have time to call in advance, we will try to find a tour guide if one is available. If one is not available at that time, you can schedule a time to come back or feel free to tour the Museum at your own leisure using our informational brochure.
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Gift Shop

Our gift shop has over 27 different books of the area.

BOOKS

  • 150 Years of Oakland - A book about the past 150 years of Oakland and how the area has evolved in that time. - $20.00
  • 1900 Garrett County Census - Twelfth Census of the United States - Garrett County, MD - $35.00
  • 1910 Census - Thirteenth Census of the United States - Garrett County, MD - $30.00
  • Battlefield Angels - Daughters of Charity work as Civil War nurses by James Rada, Jr. - $19.95
  • Meshach Browning Descendants - 1781 to 1999 by Bob Jachowski - $10.00
  • Brown’s Miscellaneous Writings - A book written by local author Jacob Brown about various happenings in his life. - $8.00
  • Deep Creek Lake: Past and Present - A history of Deep Creek Lake from its beginnings in the 1920s to present day era. - $10.00
  • Deer Park, Maryland: Then and Now - A history of Deer Park from its beginnings as a hotel resort to the present. - $10.00
  • Famous Boats on Deep Creek Lake – $29.95
  • Garrett County Graves Vol. 1 - A written record of the known graves in Garrett County as of mid 1987. - $30.00
  • Garrett County Graves Vol. 2 - Graves recorded after publishing of Vol. 1. Published in 2004 and includes Elk Garden Cemeteries. - $20.00
  • Garrett County History - A book written by Stephen Schlossnagle about the early history of Garrett County to the mid 20th Century. - $25.00
  • Garrett County Postcard History - A book compiled by Al Feldstein including pictures and postcards of the historic Garrett County area. - $20.00
  • Garrett County 125th Anniversary Photo Album - This book pays tribute to the 125th birthday of Garrett County. A comparison of where we were to where we are. - $20.00
  • Garrett County Marriage Records - 30 Years of Marriage Records (1872-1901) - $17.00
  • Garrett County Schools of Yesteryear - A book written by two local school teachers about all of the known school houses in Garrett County, past and present. - $38.00
  • Ghost Towns of the Upper Potomac - Mining and logging towns that once were located along the north branch of the Potomac River. - $10.00
  • Glade Star Bound Volumes - Spanning the years 1941 to 2010
    Vol. I, II, III - $10.00
    Vol. IV through Vol. XI - $30.00
  • Indian Camps and Other Stories - A tale of Indians in Garrett County. - $5.00
  • Leo Beachy Books: Vol. I, II, III, IV - Photographic Works, Writings and History of Leo Beachy. - each $10.00
  • Looking Back Vol. 1 - True stories of Mountain Maryland by James Rada, Jr. - $14.95
  • Looking Back Vol. 2 - More true stories of Mountain Maryland by James Rada, Jr. - $14.95
  • Maryland Forest and Parks - A Century of Progress - $20.00
  • Never to Be Forgotten - A Garrett County Oral History of the Korean and Cold Wars. - $20.00
  • Once Upon a Mountaintop - A history of Mountain Lake Park, MD. - $15.00
  • Saving Shallmar - Christmas spirit in a coal town by James Rada, Jr. - $17.95
  • Secrets of Garrett County - Little known stories and hidden histories by James Rada, Jr. $20.00
  • Strange & Unusual True Stories of Garrett County - A book featuring true but unusual stories about Garrett County. - $8.00
  • Tucker County - A book compiled by Cynthia Phillips including pictures and postcards of the Tucker County area. - $20.00
  • Unusual for Their Time - On the road with America’s First Ladies by Andrew Och - $20.00

  • Compiled by the GCHS to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War:

  • Civil War Glade Star - Centennial issue by Ross Durst - $3.50
  • Civil War Glade Star - Sesquicentennial - $10.00

Tax and shipping are not included in the prices. Please call the museum at 301-334-3226 for orders and pricing.


Hours

Museum Summer Hours: May 1st. Monday through Saturday 10:00am - 3:00pm.

Museum Winter Hours: January through May 1st. Open Thursday Friday & Saturday 10am - 3pm.

Closed Major Holidays. Please call first - 301-334-3226.

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Contact Us

Garrett County Historical Museum
107 South Second Street
Oakland, MD 21550
Phone: 301-334-3226
info@garrettcountymuseums.com


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