The U.S. state of Maryland is a state known for so many things. It is the home of College Park Airport in College Park, Maryland, the oldest continuously operating airport in the world. It is the home of the oldest Catholic church in the United States of America located in the city of Baltimore. The bloodiest battle on America soil took place at the Battle of Antietam. It was where a poem known as ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ was penned by Francis Scott Key while a prisoner on a ship in the Patapsco River during a bombardment on Fort McHenry, and it was that same battle at Fort McHenry that would establish the United States of America as a superpower. The largest estuary in the United States of America, the Chesapeake Bay, is mostly in the state of Maryland. A woman known as Harriet Tubman who was born in the state established an escape network called ‘The Underground Railroad’ to help slaves escape to the free states in the north. It was the state of Maryland that donated its land that became the District of Columbia to be neutral ground for America’s capital. As for railroad sites, the oldest surviving train station in the United States of America is in Ellicott City, and it was the first terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. (It is now a museum.) The oldest railroad bridge is in Baltimore, and the oldest railroad viaduct is in Elkridge. We cannot forget the first railroad tracks laid in the Western Hemisphere at the site that is now the home of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum.
When people think about the state of Maryland, they think about the areas around the Chesapeake Bay and its many waterways, but very few people think about the state’s mountains, and fewer people think about the state’s panhandle region which includes the city of Cumberland, the home of the Western Maryland Scenic Railway and Number 1309, the largest operating locomotive in the world. (Number 1309 was originally built by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway and was on display at the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum in Baltimore before being restored to service.) About fifty miles southwest of Cumberland near the point of the panhandle is the small town of Oakland. You probably have never heard of this town as the only major route through the town is U.S. Route 219, and it is miles north of U.S. Route 50 and many miles south of Interstate 68. It is a small out of the way town that is worth going out of the way for. Why? It is the county seat of Garrett County. It is the home of an old 1884 train station built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. (It is now a museum.)
Across the street from the old train station is the Garrett County Museum of Transportation, a museum the shows the history of transportation in the county. The museum features classic cars like a Model-T Ford and a Dodge Coronet, and a features a boat that once cruised the waters of nearby Deep Creek Lake. You will also see model trains. You have trains and trolleys made of wood, and you have trains on display. The best display is a model train display where you can watch the trains go around and around and around. There is also a display on a tragedy that took place in the nearby town of Mountain Lake Park where on September 10, 1959, a bus was struck by a train at the railroad crossing killing seven children and severely injuring 11. It is considered to be one of the worse bus/train accidents in history.
The town of Oakland, Maryland appears to be in the middle of nowhere, but it is worth visiting. The Garrett County Museum of Transportation may not be as big as other transportation museums, but it is a museum worth going out of your way to visit. It is owned and operated by the Garrett County Historical Society. It is located at 108 Liberty Street in the heart of the town. It is just blocks from U.S. Route 219 and Maryland Route 39. It is open on Friday and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Admission is free, but they will gladly accept donations to keep the museum running for many years to come. Parking is street parking. The museum is also wheelchair accessible with the cars and trains on the first floor and the story of Deep Creek Lake on the second floor. You can get more information about the Garrett County Transportation at https://garrettcountymuseums.com/transportationmuseum.
Make a trip to Oakland, Maryland, the home of the Garrett County Museum of Transportation. It is far away from everywhere, but it is a charming place to see.
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