Near Emmitsburg in Frederick County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Gateway to the Mountain
— Catoctin Mountain Towns & Communities —
Beginning in the 1730's, German and Swiss immigrants would traverse this area, coming from the eastern Pennsylvania en-route to the Shenandoah Valley. Many would settle on, and beside, Catoctin Mountain.
Family farms were quick to sprout up in the mountain's shadow, and former Indian paths gave way to wagon roads. Early pioneers set about taming a howling wilderness, with religion strongly guiding daily lives on Maryland's western frontier. The mountain's bounty provided subsistence, and abundant streams enabled early industry such as milling and tanning. A host of other jobs supported the nearby Catoctin Iron Furnace, constructed in the 1770's.
Around 1803-1804, John Creager began selling a series of town lots and christened the new village with the name of Mechanicstown. The Western Maryland Railway came in 1871, creating an important connection to Baltimore and towns west of the mountain. A summer cottage industry abounded, and precipitated the need for the new name of Thurmont, crudely meaning "Gateway to the Mountain."
By the early 1900's, collier work, ore mining, marginal farming, and timber demand had taken their toll on the mountain. Meanwhile, the automobile slowly changed travel patterns, causing Thurmont to wane in importance as a vacation spot.
Relief came in the 1930's as the Civilian Conservation Corps created camps and brought the mountain back to an earlier natural state. Thurmont's role as a tourist town returned as it has welcomed countless volunteers to its mountain parklands, a list that also includes presidents, world leaders and other dignitaries.
Known today as Harman's Gap, Native American peoples crossed the mountain here for centuries.
The railroad did plenty for local farmers and industry, but also brought tourists in need of fresh mountain air, water and recreation.
The adjacent part of Catoctin Mountain became part of a Recreational Demonstrational Area in which cabins and campsites were constructed.
To the little town of varying names and its residents, Thurmont has never stopped playing its role as a "Gateway to the Mountains."
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) 🏞️ series list.
Location. 39° 42.484′ N, 77° 18.846′ W. Marker is near Emmitsburg, Maryland, in Frederick County. Marker can be reached from Catoctin Mountain Highway (U.S. 15) half a mile south of Welty Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 17300 Catoctin Mountain Hwy, Emmitsburg MD 21727, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Thurmont (here, next to this marker); Emmitsburg (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Emmitsburg (within shouting distance of this marker); Emmitsburg Longrifles (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Emmitsburg (within shouting distance of this marker); Korean War Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); Operation Urgent Fury and Lebanese Civil War Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); Persian Gulf Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Emmitsburg.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 12, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 48 times since then and 6 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on November 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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