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. In fact, in the past, Garrett County was one of the country's gateways to the west. Under this umbrella, several primary themes were developed including, transportation, cultural uniqueness, man & nature, and historic recreation. Discover more about our themes below and uncover sites, museums and attractions that help define our themes. Read more about our Heritage Area themes.
Make new discoveries along Indian trails, railroad paths, waterways and the Historic National Road, which was America’s first federally funded highway in 1811. 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 a wider trail for westward movement.
A Victorian B&O train station, transportation museum and county historical museum all in Oakland, have 19th century artifacts to admire and a single-span stone-arch bridge over the Casselman River in Grantsville was once a regular crossing for Conestoga wagons as they headed west to new settlements along the National Road.
Photo Credit: Bob Carney
Garrett County’s natural beauty and recreational resources have inspired travelers from all walks of life including U.S. Presidents and other prominent American figures to find an adventure or a quiet, peaceful respite. Near Muddy Creek Falls in Swallow Falls State Park, a roadside marker reveals a spot where an early 20th century campsite was enjoyed by the self named “Vagabonds” that included inventor Thomas Edison and industrialists Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. In the early days of train travel, vacationers rode the rails to Mountain Lake Park, a Chautauqua site. Deep Creek Lake remains a summer retreat for many celebrities, along with visitors from all over the world.
Photo Courtesy of Garrett County Historical Society, Leo Beachy Collection
Several destinations throughout the Heritage Area work hard to preserve the traditions of those who settled here and impact the region to this day. A Barn Quilt Trail leads to works of art hung throughout Garrett County farmland. Amish influences can be explored on a dairy farm or as part of horse-drawn carriage and sleigh rides. Other sites of historic and cultural significance range from Spruce Forest Artisan Village, where a 217 year old mill still produces flours, meals and mixes available to the public to 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, styles of music, and many other cultural characteristics that have interest for tourists. Garrett County is located within the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area.
Photo Credit: Tim Jacobsen
Man and Nature
The region’s natural resources and unique agricultural legacy are highlighted as you participate in working farm tours, spy a gushing waterfall and cross the Eastern Continental Divide, which Lewis and Clark braved on their expedition across the country. The Cranesville Subarctic Swamp provides a link to the Ice Age and a look at unique species of plants and animals. Several state parks and forest provide extraordinary opportunities to appreciate the great outdoors. The Heritage Area also features a unique agricultural legacy that comprises many diverse cultural groups including the Amish. This rich farming history combines with many distinct cultures to create a farm-landscape unlike any other in Maryland. This includes rolling hills and breathtaking valleys in a patchwork of cultivated fields.
Photo Credit: Bob Carney