Preserving Maryland's Conservation Agency History
Maryland Celebrates the 90th Anniversary of the First Statewide Big Tree Contest
The roots of the Big Tree Contest are planted in Maryland, for it all started in “the Old Line State” in 1925. Fred W. Besley is the founding father of the National Big Tree Champion Contest. Click here to read more.
The Maryland's Forest Fire Lookout Towers Poster
This poster was created by the University of Maryland to showcase the history of the forest fire tower system that began in 1915 and stretched across the state. These towers served as a communication network to protect against woodland forest fires that damaged property and endangered lives. Click here to read more.
Maryland's Tree Nursery
Mike Kay, member of the Frederick County Forestry Board contributed this article on the history behind Maryland's present day State Tree Nursery. Click here to read more.
Significant Garrett County State Forest and State Parks Monuments
The following are nine of an occasional series about Significant Garrett County State Forest and State Park Monuments and Landmarks In Maryland.
On or about January 30, 1907, Fred W. Besley walked up these stairs to the first Garrett County Court House in Oakland to file a deed for 1,917 acres of land which became Maryland’s first State Forest Reserve.
This valuable acreage was a handsome gift to the people of Maryland, and had been generously donated by brothers John and Robert Garrett. In 1906 the land was offered by the Garrett’s as the first State Forest providing Maryland would start a forestry and state parks program. In 1906 the State Forests and Parks program was enacted and the acreage passed from the Garrett Brothers to the State with the signing of the deed that State Forester Besley was about to file in the Court House. Click here to read more.
This tree was a sapling when planted in Oakland as part of the celebration of the 200th birthday of George Washington (1732-1932) but there is much “more to this tree’s story as you will see below. Click here to read more.
This stone monument beside the day use area entrance road was dedicated in memory of Robert Fechner, first Director of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) (1933-1939). Click here to read more.
Thomas Edison and his wife, Mina Miller Edison, shared a few contemplative moments along Muddy Creek upstream from the falls. Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and Henry Ford, who called themselves the Vagabonds, camped near the falls with their families for almost a week in late July, 1921. Click here to read more.
The Herrington Manor House served in the 1930s as the headquarters for Swallow Falls, now Garrett – Potomac State Forest. State Forester Fred W. Besley held annual meetings at the Herrington Manor House. Some of the earliest pioneering Maryland forest conservation initiatives were formulated and launched at meetings in this building. Click here to read more.
Officials dedicated the State Forester’s Monument at New Germany State Park around 1981 to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Maryland Forest Service. At this time, State Forester Tunis Lyon had recently taken over leadership of the forest service after the retirement of Pete Bond, the fourth state forester since 1906 when the position of state forester was established. Click here to read more.
At Rock Lodge in Garrett County occurred some of the earliest efforts by the State Board of Forestry to restore devastated forest landscapes by applying newly developed scientific reforestation practices. Reforestation sought to correct abusive land practices that occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s. By 1906, only thirty percent of Maryland’s original ninety-five percent forested land-base survived. Click here to read more.
In the early 1930s, five noteworthy people were involved in making possible the planting of the eastern larch tree at a particular site in Garrett County, Maryland. These individuals involved included a future U.S. President; a U.S. Forest Service Chief; a Maryland State Forester; a Maryland State Tree Nursery Superintendant, and perhaps most important of all, a mother. Click here to read more.
Book of Civil War Drawings and Letters by CSA Soldier Published by Friends of the Maryland State Archives
DNR's retired State Park Historian, Ross M. Kimmel, co-authors I Am Busy Drawing Pictures: The Civil War Art and Letters of Private John Jacob Omenhausser, CSA
A new book of drawings and letters by a former Baltimore resident who joined the Confederate Army and was imprisoned at Point Lookout prisoner-of-war camp in St. Mary’s County, MD, has been released by the Friends of the Maryland State Archives. I Am Busy Drawing Pictures: The Civil War Art and Letters of Private John Jacob Omenhausser, CSA, by Ross M. Kimmel and Michael P. Musick, provides a rare glimpse into the everyday life of a Civil War soldier, especially while imprisoned at Point Lookout. Among the artist’s more poignant renderings are many depicting the strained and sometimes violent relations between the prisoners and the African American Union troops sent to guard them.
I Am Busy Drawing Pictures: The Civil War Art and Letters of Private John Jacob Omenhausser is available for $45 plus $3 handling and shipping from the Maryland State Archives through the website: msa.maryland.gov/msa/homepage/html/bookstore.html or send a check for $45 per copy, plus $3 to: Maryland State Archives, 350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis MD 21401. Read more...
Cannon, Relic of the 19th century Oyster War on Display in Garrett County through October 2014
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is exhibiting its historic cannon at the Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center in Swanton now through October 2014.
A relic of the Oyster Police of the 1800s, the cannon was used to protect the Chesapeake Bay’s bounty during the “oyster wars” of the 19th century. The Maryland Natural Resources Police, which observed its 146th anniversary last March, is a descendant of both the State Oyster Police and the Office of the State Game Warden, created in 1896. Learn more...
By Francis Champ Zumbrun
It was a hot, humid summer day in LaVale, Maryland that mid July 2013 when I picked up the phone ringing in my kitchen. “Hello,” I answered. From the other end of the line a jolly greeting came my way: “What a joy it is to hear your voice!” It was my old friend, Offutt Johnson.
Offutt was calling from Oakland, Maryland to share with me some of his thoughts about the Casselman River Bridge bicentennial celebration coming up on the weekend of September 20-22, 2013 at Grantsville, Maryland. At the time, Offutt was serving as a volunteer on the bicentennial planning committee, a group of which I also was a member.
Offutt asked me, “Hey, can you meet me at Wendy's Restaurant in Oakland? I have something I want to show you.” Click here to read more.
Cannon, Relic of the 19th century Oyster Wars, on Display in Annapolis at the Casper R. Taylor Jr. House Office Building in Annapolis now through spring 2014.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is exhibiting its historic cannon at the Casper R. Taylor Jr. House Office Building in Annapolis now through spring 2014.
A relic of the Oyster Police of the 1800s, the cannon was used to protect the Chesapeake Bay’s bounty during the “oyster wars” of the 19th century. The Maryland Natural Resources Police, which observed its 145th anniversary last March, is a descendant of both the State Oyster Police and the Office of the State Game Warden, created in 1896. Click here to read more...
Casselman River Bicentennial Celebration
September 20-22, 2013
The 200-year bicentennial celebration of the Casselman River Bridge occurred on the weekend of September 20-22, 2013. Department of Natural Resource (DNR) officials placed an information kiosk at entrance of the Casselman River Bridge State Park in time for the weekend event. The exhibit explains in a few words the colorful history of the bridge:
"Spanning the Casselman River and supporting 200 years of hooves, boots, sleigh runners, and wheels of every type and description, the Casselman River Bridge begins its third century on the National Road east of Grantsville, Maryland. It is one of the oldest surviving bridges in the nation."
By Francis Champ Zumbrun
South Mountain Museum Dedication
On May 11, 2013 Washington Monument State Park unveiled its newly renovated museum at a grand opening celebration, featuring fun, family-friendly tours, activities and presentations.
“It has been more than exciting to see these old historic structures renovated and transformed into a beautiful museum,” said Park Manager Dan Spedden. “Its exhibits will tell stories of the region’s rich history, illustrating events that shaped not only our State but our entire nation.”
The museum interprets events of the nation’s first monument to honor George Washington, the Civil War Battle of South Mountain and the literary career of noted author and war correspondent George Alfred Townsend.
Civil War Cannon and Crew
Exhibited at South Mountain Museum Dedication
New Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Exhibit at Gambrill State Park
A new exhibit, "The CCC at Gambrill State Park: Their Legacy Lives On." is now on display at Gambrill State Park in the vicinity of the CCC Statue, which was dedicated on November 5, 2011.
Two additional exhibits (see below) are planned,
with each telling the story of one aspect of the CCC in Maryland.
The foundation that supports the Maryland Conservation History Committee, made up of volunteers and DNR employees, was recently designated as a 501 3c non-profit. The foundation will fund projects that preserve and promote DNR’s history and heritage.
Conserving Memory: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Western Maryland,
By Colleen Esther Walter
Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts 2011
Maryland Names Forest In Honor Of Fred W. Besley
Besley was Maryland’s first State Forester.
Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources Press Release. February 22, 2012
The Committee for Maryland Conservation History was originally formed in 2004 to prepare for the Maryland Forestry & Parks Centennial. Following the success of the Centennial activities, the Committee was expanded to include additional DNR units in its membership.
To preserve, promote and interpret the legacy of natural resource conservation in Maryland for the public’s benefit.
Strategies for achieving the mission include the following: