When you talk to someone who has a place at Deep Creek Lake, one of the first things you’ll likely here is “We’ve had a house here since . . . ” People are proud – and rightfully so – of how long they have had property at Deep Creek Lake.
In a virtual video tour, I look at how the lake “filled in” by classifying the homes by the year they were built. You’ll see the history of the lake, from the original enclaves of cabins built in the 1920’s and 30’s right after the lake formed, to today’s familiar developments and rental hotspots. If you don’t like videos, I’ve made a blog version here that hits the highlights of the video version.
I’ll look at the construction date of all the houses in the Deep Creek Lake Watershed. The data comes from the Maryland tax assessment database, so it may not be correct for every single structure, but on the aggregated scale we’re looking at, it should be good enough. I’ve grouped the construction dates into 2-decade intervals after the lake was “built”, e.g 1926-1945, 1946-1965 etc. If an owner tore down a house and built a new one, that resets the clock and the newer one if the year recorded. Before the dam was built, the data actually says there is a still-standing structure from 1855 in the watershed, so the pre-lake group goes all the way back to then.
All the data
This map shows all the parcel points from the MD database (where there “construction year” wasn’t blank). Since in the heavily populated areas, the dots overlie each other some of the trends get lost, but you can still see some interesting clusters. In the following maps, I’ll build up all the points by those 2-decade groups, and you’ll get to see the early days of the lake more clearly.
Before the (current) Lake
I’ve switched over to a 1901 topographical map of the area for this one, showing the still-standing structures in the purple dots from before Deep Creek Lake was formed. There are tons of cool details such as a dam and small lake where the Glendale Bridge is now, but I’ll try to stay on target here. If you’d like to check out this type of map, I conveniently have one you can order.
The Founders , 1925-1945
After the lake was formed, clusters of houses also started to form. Most of them were along the easier-to-access area along what is now Rt 219, but you start to see houses along Lake Shore Dr, Hazelhurst, Beckman’s & Harvey’s Peninsulae and my own little neighborhood off Toothpick Rd.
The green dots show the houses that came in during the post-war period of 1946-1965. Some new areas are starting to get developed like Penn Pt, Turkey Neck and the Yacht Club, Paradise Pt, and Marsh Hill Rd (at Wisp) while established areas above continue to fill in as well. Anecdotally, it seems that most of the homes in this time frame were summer-only vacation homes built by blue-collar (think steel mill workers) from the Pittsburgh area.
Yinzer paradise, 1966-1985
The Sky Valley development is immediately obvious in this era shown in yellow dots. There are a couple of other subdivision-type developments during this time frame, and some other wise empty areas like Stockslager, Sandy Beach and Shingle Camp start to get populated as well. Generally I’d say that this era was a continuance of the type of owners from the previous one. A lake home and construction costs are still affordable for an upper-middle class family, and the Pittsburgh area is still the most accessible.
Increased Access, 1986-2005
Two big things happened during this time period to drive all the new orange dots: I-68 fully opened, which greatly improved the access from the DC/Baltimore area, and a major sewer project was completed which allowed for many more units to be supported. A number of big subdivision-type developments are obvious – Blakeslee, the Pinnacle, Mountainside, etc, and pretty much all of the non-subdivision shoreline has been developed too with a couple of exceptions.
Continued but slowing growth 2005-2022
In the previous 17 years, there still has been substantial growth but mostly off the lakefront. Holy Cross and developments around golf courses (Waterfront Greens and Lodestone) happened during this period as well.