Washington County

somerset county seal

Washington County, located in western Maryland, was created from Frederick County by resolve of the Constitutional Convention of 1776. It is bordered on the north by the Mason-Dixon Line and Pennsylvania, the east by Frederick County, the south and southwest by the Potomac River, and the west by Allegany County. The county is named in honor of George Washington.

Appropriately enough, it was Washington County that produced the first monument to George Washington, erected on July 4, 1827 outside of Boonesboro and completed in one day by the townspeople. During the Gettysburg campaigns the monument, which had almost fallen to pieces, was patched with logs and used as a Union signal station. In 1934, ten acres of land, including the monument, were deeded to the State of Maryland, and additional land was subsequently acquired for a state park. A copy of the earlier monument was built of local stone by the Civilian Conservation Corps and rededicated on July 4, 1936.

Hagerstown, the county seat, lies in the fertile valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains at the intersection of two important truck routes, I-81 and I-70. These roads follow respectively the historic north-south pathway through the Cumberland and Shenandoah valleys and the old National Pike, over which pioneers for decades traveled to settle in the country beyond the Appalachians.

The county's rich heritage is a delight for history buffs. Here visitors can roam the Antietam National Battlefield, the site of the bloodiest one day battle of the Civil War; Fort Frederick, erected in 1756 for defense against the French and Indians; or the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, stretching from Georgetown to Cumberland.

- Side of the C and O Canal, 1903
MSA SC 1477-6718

The purpose of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal was to carry coal downstream from Cumberland. Barges maintained a rate of two to three miles an hour. Mules were used to pull the heavily laden boats. Their towpath and the Potomac can be seen on the far side of the canal in this 1903 view made in Williamsport.

Bookmobile depository on the porch of Cozy Corner
MSA SC 1477-6400

The bookmobile of the Washington County Free Library left books regularly at numerous depositories around the county, like this one on the porch of "Cozy Corner," the home of Edward G. Kinsell at Green Spring Furnace.

Pen Mar Park
MSA SC 1477-6413

Pen Mar Park, established in 1877, is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland. Originally a mountain resort that attracted thousands of vacationers seeking respite from the city's heat, Pen Mar is today a popular county park.

Men meeting in Weverton
MSA SC 1477-6414

Weverton, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, is the first town encountered in Washington County after leaving Frederick County. The depot seems to have been a meeting place for men only.

Hagerstown, county seat
MSA SC 1477-4985

Hagerstown, the Washington County seat, was once a flourishing rail center, the "hub city" of Maryland. In June 1917 when this photograph was made at West Washington and Jonathan streets, Hagerstown was the third largest city in the state.