Gaithersburg, Maryland is a suburb of Washington D.C. although it is the fourth largest city in the state of Maryland behind Baltimore and two other suburbs, Frederick and Rockville. It was settled as ‘Log Town’ in 1765 as an agricultural town. By 1805 it was known as Gaithersburg after Benjamin Gaither, a man who owned a general store that was located at the crossroads of the town. The town continued to grow and was incorporated as a town in 1878. In 1968, it was incorporated as a city. To this day the city continues to thrive making it a major business town. You can make a visit to the Gaithersburg Community Museum and see the history of how the city developed to what it is today.
Now some of you are saying, “That is so nice. I had never heard of Gaithersburg, Maryland before, and I have never heard of the Gaithersburg Community Museum. It is nice to hear about the success of this city. However, I am more interested in railroads. Therefore, I am not interested in Gaithersburg, Maryland or this museum.”
As mentioned, Gaithersburg was originally settled as an agricultural town. However, something came here that changed this town.
When Gaithersburg was settled, it was along what is now Maryland Route 335 which runs between Washington D.C. and Frederick, Maryland. (A few of the original structures remain including a manor house next to the Gaithersburg High School.) This was the center of town until 1873. What happened? The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad came to the area and built at train station. The railroad was a major contributor to the growth of the town. The town center moved from the ‘Frederick Road’ (now Maryland Route 355) to the train station on the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and this remains the town center to the present day. (The line is now owned by CSX.) Today, it would be a fitting place to have the Gaithersburg Community Museum which is housed in the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad freight house.
The exhibits at the Gaithersburg Community Museum explores the history of Gaithersburg including the railroad history. The museum also has a caboose, a Rail Diesel Car used to transport commuters on the Marc Commuter Trains that still serve the station today, and Number 14 from the Buffalo Creek Railroad. Once you are finished seeing the exhibits, you can grab a drink or sandwich next door in the old passenger station. If you are fortunate enough, you can watch a CSX, Amtrak or Marc Commuter train roll by.
The Gaithersburg Community Museum is located at 9 South Summit Avenue next to the CSX line. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Admission is free, but they gladly accept donations to help keep the museum running. Parking is free as well. You can see more about the museum at https://www.gaithersburgmd.gov/about-us/city-facilities/gaithersburg-community-museum.