Heritage Area At a Glance
Heritage Area Themes
The overarching theme in the Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area (MMGTW) is Garrett County's relationship to the opening and development of America's western frontier in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, where in fact, Garrett County was one of the country's Gateway to the West. Several primary themes were developed including, transportation, cultural uniqueness, man & nature, and historic recreation you can discover more about our themes below and uncover sites, museums and attractions that help define our heritage. Read more about our Heritage Area themes.
Come make new discoveries along our Indian trails or perhaps along our railroad paths or spend the day on one of our waterways! You can even see America's first federally funded highway the Historic National Road, which was built between 1811 and 1834. During the French and Indian War, General Braddock’s British troops, accompanied by a young aide de camp named George Washington, marched through the area creating wider trails for westward movement, it was during these efforts where the National Road got its start.
Oakland's Victorian B&O train station built in 1884, Garrett County's transportation museum and historical museum, all have 19th century artifacts to admire. In Grantsville, a single-span stone-arch bridge that reaches across the Casselman River, which was once a regular crossing for Conestoga wagons as they headed west to new settlements along the National Road, has now become a state park. Grab your fishing poles and a picnic basket and enjoy the day and soak in all the history this area has to offer you!!!
Photo Credit: Bob Carney
Garrett County’s natural beauty and recreational resources have inspired travelers from all walks of life. From U.S. Presidents and other prominent American figures looking to find an adventure or the ones just needing a quiet, peaceful respite. Over near Muddy Creek Falls in Swallow Falls State Park, a historical marker reveals a spot where an early 20th century campsite was enjoyed by the self-named “Vagabonds”, which included inventor Thomas Edison and industrialists Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. In the early days of train travel, vacationers would ride the rails to Mountain Lake Park, a Chautauqua site. Even today, Deep Creek Lake remains a summer retreat for many celebrities as well as visitors from around the world to use as their getaway for rest and relaxation.
Photo Courtesy of Garrett County Historical Society, Leo Beachy Collection
Garrett County is located within the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area. Throughout the years, many have worked hard to preserve the traditions of those who settled here and those who continue to impact the region to this day. Take a Barn Quilt Trail as it leads you to where you will discover these works of art throughout Garrett County's farmland. Experience a dairy farm, a horse-drawn carriage or even a sleigh ride thru one of our Amish communities. Other sites of historic and cultural significance range from Spruce Forest Artisan Village, where a 226-year-old mill still produces flours, meals and mixes that are available to the public! While you are out and about, stop and see the Drane House, one of the few original frontier plantation homes in the region. The Appalachian Mountain culture itself is very unique, having developed its own food and drink, style of music, and many other cultural characteristics that have brought interest for tourists.
Photo Credit: Tim Jacobsen
Man and Nature
The region’s natural resources and unique agricultural legacy are highlighted as you participate in activities throughout that region. From working farm tours, hiking our trails, spying a gushing waterfall or crossing the Eastern Continental Divide, which Lewis and Clark braved on their expedition across the country, you will find something for everyone to enjoy! You can even visit our subarctic swamp in Cranesville that provides a look at unique species of plants and animals that bridge a link to the Ice Age!! Garrett County is also home to eight (8) state parks and forests which provide extraordinary opportunities to appreciate the great outdoors we have to offer. You will also find we have a rich farming history and when you combine that with many distinct cultures and add in our rolling hills and the breathtaking valleys that form a patchwork of cultivated fields unlike any other in Maryland.
Photo Credit: Bob Carney