Garrett County in the U.S. state of Maryland is the westernmost county in the state. It is often overshadowed by the Chesapeake Bay region where the Star Spangled Banner, the world’s oldest operating airport, the first railroad in the nation, and many wars took place. Garrett County has its own share of history as well as natural areas to include the state’s highest point and the state’s only ski resort. In case you are wondering, the National Road, present day U.S. Route 40, does pass through the northern part of the county. The only interstate is Interstate 68 which goes between Hancock, Maryland and Morgantown, West Virginia. The only other major routes are U.S. Route 50 which crossed at the point of the panhandle and U.S. Route 219. On U.S. Route 219 is where you will find the town of Oakland, the county seat of Garrett County. It is here where you will find the Garrett County Historical Museum. The museum tells the entire history of Garrett County. Housed in the old Deer Park Hotel, you will see the whole history of the county.
Some of you are saying, “This is wonderful. It is sad that not too many people know about this part of Maryland. As I see the town on the map, I notice that this town is in the middle of nowhere. Another problem I see is that this museum is not about railroads. Therefore, I am not making any visit to this museum.”
The Garrett County Historical Museum is about the history of the county going back two hundred years. The county itself does not have must history with the railroad, but the town of Oakland was once a big railroad town.
As you approach the old Deer Park Hotel, you are not going to notice the old hotel. Your eyes will be on the old train station, locomotive and caboose, and it is not your typical train station. It is a Gothic style train station built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad which regularly served the town of Oakland. (It is now a museum.) The town was home to some very majestic hotels to include a large hotel built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (now gone), the Glades Hotel (also gone), and the Deer Park Hotel, the home of the museum.
Some of you are saying, “That is very nice, but what does that have to do with this museum?”
As mentioned, the Garrett County Historical Museum tells the story of the county. The museum is divided into different rooms. Among those rooms is the B&O Room. (B&O is the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.) When you enter, you will see artifacts from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in Garrett County. You will see a model train display. You will see a model of the Oakland Train Station. You will see a replica of a locomotive known as ‘The Little Maryland’. What is special about ‘The Little Maryland’? It was built by a sixteen year old named Stephen Pagenhart, and it took him three years to finish. Although it is enclosed in glass, it is still operational. Before it was displayed at this museum, it was displayed at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois.
You may not be from Garrett County, Maryland, but you will appreciate what you will see here. It is owned and operated by the Garrett County Historical Society which also operates the Garrett County of Transportation which is across the street and the Grantsville Museum in Grantsville, Maryland. It is located at 107 South Second Street two blocks west of U.S. Route 219 and three blocks north of Maryland Route 39. It is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted. Parking is on the street, and you can stay parked as you visit the Garrett County Museum of Transportation and the Old Train Station. You can learn more about the museum, and you can read more into the Garrett County Historical Society at https://garrettcountymuseums.com/historicalmuseum/.
You now have a reason to visit Oakland, Maryland. You will not see the Oakland Athletics or the San Francisco Bay or Alcatraz, but you will see a great town with a great history and great museums.
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