By Caroline Blizzard|
Garrett County is home to two vastly different and quite unique state parks with one common thread: their shared history. Both Swallow Falls and Herrington Manor state parks exist today because of the foresight of several key individuals. From the Garrett Brothers, who donated the tract of land between the two parks and Swallow Falls, to the philanthropist Henry Krug who loved the area so much he refused to let the woods around the falls be harvested for lumber, to the dedicated members of Civilian Conservation Corps, their efforts have made the parks the recreational destinations that they are today.
Swallow Falls State Park is popular not only for its natural wonder and beauty but for its picnic areas, 65-site campground, and five-and-a-half mile trail through the Garrett State Forest that connects the park with nearby Herrington Manor State Park. It is hard to hike the canyon trail without imagining the sounds that echoed forth from the sawmill that once sat atop Muddy Creek, or hearing the voices of such legendary entrepreneurs as John Burroughs, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and Thomas Edison as they camped beside the falls long ago.
Herrington Manor features 20 rustic cabins for year round rental, a 53-acre lake and beach area, and for snow enthusiasts, seven miles of groomed cross-country ski trails with rentals and a warming hut on the lake. The park’s name is taken from the manor house of Abijah Herrington -- or was it?
Abijah Herrington and the mystery that surround him leave in question the origins of the manor house and park name. It is commonly held that he was a wealthy land owner living in the area in the 1750’s and a sergeant in the Sandy Creek Rangers during the Revolutionary War, and that the park, manor house and nearby creek were named for him. However it seems that most of what is known of Abijah is sheer myth. The facts do not seem to support the opinion that he held vast amounts of land in southwestern Garrett County, and there is no actual record of him ever serving in the Sandy Creek Rangers. It is not clear if he ever even lived in the manor house or owned the land that is currently Herrington Manor State Park. Abijah’s name cannot be found on any local deeds, surveys or military rosters. So just who was he and how did his legend result in the naming of a park, creek and homestead after him? As with Abijah Herrington, the park itself is also Garrett County’s best-kept secret.