Garrett County claims several Maryland superlatives. It is the county farthest west with the highest mountain (Backbone, at 3360 feet), the tallest waterfall (Muddy Creek Falls at 64 feet) and the largest lake (Deep Creek Lake with a length of 12 miles and a 69 mile shoreline). The Casselman River Bridge built in 1813 was once the longest of its type in the United States. The area was permanently settled by Colonel James McHenry (aide to General George Washington, signer of the Declaration of Independence and the man for whom the Baltimore fort was named). He founded the county around 1805.
The Shawnee Indians summered here and people started coming to the cool mountain area from the hot humid cities as early as 1851. That was when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ran its line to Oakland, which would become the county seat. While the train no longer comes to Oakland, the station, a quaint Queen Anne castle-like structure still remains, dating to 1884. Some of Garrett County's historical sites date to Revolutionary War times.
Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, William Henry Harrison and Grover Cleveland vacationed here, and William McKinley stopped here while campaigning for office. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone camped by Muddy Creek falls in 1918 and in 1921. Even Albert Einstein spent two weeks in this lovely mountainous countryside. Grover Cleveland and his bride, Frances Folsom, stayed in the fourteen room "Cottage Number Two" now "Cleveland Cottage" at the Deer Park Hotel for their fifteen day wedding trip in 1886. The hotel was built in 1873 by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad when John W. Garrett (for whom the county is named) was president. It was razed in 1942, but the foundation is still visible off Rt. 135, 5 miles from Oakland.
Solomon Sterner opened the Casselman Hotel in Grantsville in 1824 to accommodate travelers along the National Pike. As usual with restaurants and inns along the Pike, this one is on the north side, the side that west bound travelers would travers.
The shops in the Spruce Forest Artisan Village are open from late May through late October and one of the well known artists there is a Grantsville native and resident, Gary Yoder, a renowned bird carver who wins prizes of thousands of dollars at international competitions.
Deep Creek Lake was formed in 1925 when a dam, 1300 feet long and 62 feet high was constructed to provide hydroelectric power. It is fed by Deep and Cherry creeks. Rafters on the upper Youghioghenny River (pronounced "yuck" for short) fight their way over GTap and Bastard falls through rapids with such names as Rocky III, Cheeseburger, and Meat Cleaver. Another popular rafting place is the nearby Savage River.
Other recreational outlets include water sports, skiing (downhill and cross country) hiking, camping, golfing, horseback riding, hunting and tennis. These mountains receive the second largest annual snowfall in the east after the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which makes for excellent cross-country skiing. The Wisp Ski Resort offers over 12 miles of slopes and trails and full facilities. Wherever you go in Garrett County, you will discover a relaxing respite in Maryland's four season vacation area. where natural beauty is the first order of any day.
Fuller-Baker Log House
About a mile east of Grantsville on the Pike is the Fuller-Baker Log House. It is representative of other structures on the Allegheny frontier, but it is large enough to have been a tavern and is believed to be the only remaining log house on the National Pike between Cumberland and Wheeling. Maryland's first governor, Thomas Johnson, owned the property when the house was built in 1815, but it is named for two other residents. The first was Henry Fuller, who came to the area in 1837 to work as a stonemason. The Bakers were also early settlers and owned the house later. It is now on the National Register. Woodcarver Dennis Ruane has restored it for use as a studio. He displays his work and demonstrates at Penn-Alps, home to numerous crafters who work in log cabins east of the Casselman Bridge, brought here from the surrounding countryside.
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