Ferris Wheels and Freemason Gold – a History of Swallow Falls State Park

Swallow Falls State Park is one of the “crown jewels” of the MD State Park system (at least in my mind) and you kind of assume that since it’s such an amazing natural wonder that it has been protected for a long time, but really only became fully under state control in the past 80 years. It’s been an interesting path to get there, and there are some interesting side trails along the way. Did you know that:
-Muddy Creek Falls was once owned by the Freemasons? (is there secret gold behind the falls?)
-An electric train line – with amusement parks along the way – was planned to pass by Swallow Falls (and various other plans would have dammed the river and dried the falls)
You can see the narrated video here and download the slides here

Garrett County Gazette, May 2023

Garrett County Gazette, May 2023 🌦️
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The “low-down” on Deep Creek Lake water levels

The waters of Deep Creek Lake have a number of uses including electricity generation, lake recreation, whitewater boating and trout habitat enhancement. The level of Deep Creek Lake is governed by a permit issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment which attempts to balance these uses. In this presentation, I go through the uses of waters of Deep Creek Lake, the “Rule Band” which dictates what the level of the lake should be throughout the year and some commentary on how these uses of the water relate to each other.

You can download the Powerpoint or watch on Youtube

The First Visitor’s Map of Deep Creek Lake?

A friend of mine recently gave me this map that he purchased at an auction. What a find! It’s a 1936 map of Deep Creek Lake made by Frank Corliss, who was in charge of the surveying for the original land acquisition of the lake.

Labeled with roads, the businesses along the “strip” on 219 and lot owners, along with the factoid info on the right, it looks a lot like a visitor’s map to me. I haven’t been able to find much about Mr Corliss other than his attribution on a number of maps from this era, and an interesting anecdote about him winning a bet about how how far the lake would fill when it was first dammed. You can read that and a couple of other little tales from the origins of the lake here.

One particular item of note that I enjoyed seeing were all of the Boy Scout camps on the lake at the time (B.S. of A. on the map). Back in this time, it must have been the perfect setting.

You can download it here. It’s just a picture I took with my phone for now, but I’ll get it scanned and put up in the Garrett County Historical Society’s Virtual Map room soon. If you’ve read this far, I hope you’re a member of the GCHS – it’s just $25 per year! Join here if you’re not a member!

Do you have old maps, pictures, ephemera or any other old Deep Creek Lake memorabilia in a drawer or box? Let me know and if it’s something unique and notable, I’d love to get it digitized at least so that it can be enjoyed and referenced for years to come! Contact me at chris.nichols@dimesy.com

Where to swim in Garrett County, MD

Summer is coming and a common question is “Where can I go swimming?” Deep Creek Lake of course comes to many people’s minds, but with so many streams, rivers and lakes and so much public land, there are lots of other places to go swimming, from sandy beaches to river plunges.

Check out the narrated Youtube video

Download the slides

Go to the custom Google Map

Garrett County Gazette, April 2023

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Welcome to the current issue of the Garrett County Gazette. I’m Chris Nichols, your guide to helping you find out what’s going on, what’s coming up and interesting tidbits from the area. Let’s jump right in!

No school closures(for another year at least)

Over the past few months, the Garrett County Board of Education has been considering some controversial measures including:
closing Swan Meadow and Route 40 Elementary Schoolsessentially eliminate Northern Middle School by realigning the grade bands for the High and Elementary SchoolsOn April 11th, the Board voted to reject the current Superintendent’s recommendation to close Swan Meadow and Route 40 schools. But since the Superintendent is retiring this summer, it’s clear that this is just a temporary stay of execution.  The process of “grade band realignment” for the northern half of the County appears to still proceeding.There are two big drivers behind this problem – declining enrollment and a disadvantageous state funding process. Looking at the enrollment data, the picture is bleak.  Enrollment has gone down by almost 20% in the past decade.  Not only is the overall population of Garrett County shrinking, but more families are choosing to homeschool their children.  Lower public school enrollment means less funding and underutilized buildings, buses and staff.

The funding side of the equation is very complicated and I don’t claim to understand it, but the above graph shows how our county’s school system is disadvantaged when it comes to funding.  State of MD funding per pupil is displayed in the graph for the western three counties and the Statewide average.  The funding per pupil from the State for Garrett County (red line) is clearly lower than the statewide average and even flattens out  – you would expect this for wealthier and more populous counties, not one that has lost almost a fifth of its students over the past 10 years and has many of its kids on free lunch programs. Again, the full story is complicated, but much of this funding mismatch comes from the high property values around the lake.

So, even though there’s some breathing room for the students and parents for now, this is a problem that looks like it’s just going to get worse. While national-level demographic, social and societal trends are driving this issue locally, the high cost of housing in Garrett County plays a large role too, both in the declining enrollment and skewed funding process. 

If you’d like to get more informed, or more engaged, I’d reccommend checking out this Facebook GroupFor more information on the realignment and potential closures, check out the GCPS Information Page And the last graph came from: A Data Deep Dive into Western Maryland’s Schools, from the MD Department of Education

Trail Wishlist

The subject of trails has been in the local news lately. I decided to add my 2 cents worth to the discussion with a video of what new trails I’d like to see in Garrett County. Watch the narrated version on my Youtube channel, download the slides here, or check out the blog post. One of the themes in my wishlist is to connect existing trails.  My two areas of interest that I focused on are backpacking, so I have a couple of suggestions to create some more backpacking loops, and rail-trail type biking, so I threw out some ideas on how to connect Garrett County to regional rail-trail systems.  

Above, one of the slides from the presentation shows regional rail-trail networks around Garrett County.  It will be a challenge, but I think making our area the crossroads of these trails would be an investment that would substantially pay off. On a related note, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on the FY24 State Forest Annual Work Plans. Although the primary mission of the State Forests isn’t necessarily trails and recreation, it is a large part of it. These public comment opportunities are a great time to make your trail wishes known!If you want more info on how to comment and to see what some other outdoor enthusiasts are planning on commenting on, check out this discussion post on the Garrett County Outdoors group on Facebook.

Ultimate Map of Deep Creek Lake

The Kickstarter (pre-order) campaign for my Ultimate map of Deep Creek Lake is ending soon! Be sure to head over and make your pledge today – if we don’t hit the funding goal, it won’t get printed! 

History nook

Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same! Above is a clipping from the Sunday edition of a Baltimore newspaper from 1927. The author, Emily Emerson Lantz, wrote a series of articles on the counties of Maryland for the paper over this period, and what’s remarkable is that almost 100 years ago, with Deep Creek Lake just a few years old, the highlights of Garrett County – forests, mountains, farms – were the same as they are today. 

Do you want to read the full article and see what Garrett County was like in 1927? This article been transcribed electronically and is being reproduced in a multi-part article in the Garrett County Historical Society‘s Glades Star. As a member of the GCHS, you’ll receive 4 history-packed issues of the Glades Star each year.  Join today if you’re not a member! Just $25 per year (makes a great gift, too!)

Local events

1st Annual “Walk for Recovery” May 13 @ Deep Creek Lake State Park: Two mile walk to benefit Reflection House

Grantsville National Road Festival May 17-20 @ Grantsville: wagon train, live music, food specials, town-wide yard sale and more

Real Estate Corner

Be sure to check out the 2023 Taylor Made Deep Creek Real Estate guide and area info book! Packed with great info on the area, real estate tips and of course some amazing Deep Creek Lake & Garrett Co properties. You can stop by our office or find them at many area businesses.
When you’ve found a property you want, contact me to learn more. Let me put my local knowledge to work for YOU meeting your real estate goals!

Check out my real estate website as well for more information on what’s out there, or call or email me anytime to chat about what’s going on in the market and how to build a strategy to meet your real estate goals!
Mobile: 301 616-7881
Office: 301 387-4700
Email: chrisn@deepcreeksales.com
Chris Nichols, real estate agent
26 Kuhnle Dr, Swanton
United States of America

Garrett County Gazette, March 2023

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Welcome to the current issue of the Garrett County Gazette. I’m Chris Nichols, your guide to helping you find out what’s going on, what’s coming up and interesting tidbits from the area. Let’s jump right in!
Special Olympics of Maryland returns to Garrett County for Winter Games

After nearly a decade, the Special Olympics Maryland Winter Games returned to Wisp Resort in late February.  143 Special Olympics Maryland athletes braved the slopes and courses at the 2023 Winter Games from Monday, February 27 – Tuesday, February 28th, 2023. The athletes from across the state showcased their skills and athletic ability in various alpine and snowshoeing events. Alpine events include Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced Slalom, Giant Slalom, Glide & Super G. Snowshoeing events include 25m, 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1600m races as well as 4x100m, 4x200m, and 4x400m relay races.

Also returning to the area was the Deep Creek Dunk, one of the biggest fundraisers for the Special Olympics Maryland.  On Feb 25,  802 Dunkers dominated the 2023 Deep Creek Dunk and  raised over $140,000 and counting for the athletes of Special Olympics Maryland Garrett County and athletes across the state. I haven’t seen a date set yet for the Dunk in 2024, but it’s usually at the end of February, so mark your calendars! Or, keep an eye on my Community Calendar for upcoming events!  And be sure to visit the Special Olympics Maryland website to see how you can support this great organization.Eric Crawford from Team Taylor-Made gets ready for the full Dunk experience! You can see us in action hereDeekie and Dunkie! (I don’t know if that’s the bear’s name, but it makes it funnier)

The ULTIMATE map of Deep Creek Lake is coming soon

The next map in my line of local cartography will (hopefully) be available in the next few months.  The ULTIMATE Deep Creek Lake map shows the lake like you’ve never seen it before – lake depth, points of interest, roads, trails, buoys, coves, communities and more! It will be available  in two formatsWall map, 24×36 inches, printed on glossy poster paperFold-up map – same map as above, but printed on water-proof and tear-resistant paper and folds down to 4×9 inchesI’ll be running a pre-order campaign (through the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter) to raise funds for the initial print run in late March 2023. The MSRP will be around $20 for the wall map version and $12 for the fold-up one, but if you pre-order through the campaign, you’ll be able to get them for up to 50% off the retail price (and help me to pay for a larger print run which will bring the overall costs down)You can check out the Kickstarter campaign preview and sign up to get notified when it launches. Can’t wait to get it printed and onto people’s boats and walls!

Deekie’s Adventures
Deekie swung by Little Meadows, one of General Braddock’s camps on his ill-fated march to Fort Duquesne. This site is along US Route 40 near Grantsville. Braddock’s March was one of the first engagements in the French & Indian War, culminating in the Battle of the Monongahela where Braddock was mortally wounded. Around 2/3 of Braddock’s force was killed or wounded in this battle, and the regiment retreated back along “Braddock’s Road” to Cumberland. Legend has it that during the retreat, Braddock’s paymaster buried the regiment’s strongbox , variously estimated to contain from $5,000 to $125,000 somewhere on the retreat to Fort Cumberland.I have a contest on my Facebook profile where you can win free maps if you can name one of the places where “Braddock’s Gold” may be buried.  

Local events
Easter Egg Hunt – Saturday, April 8th starting at noon @ Broadford Park.The event will take place on  in the beach and playground areas at the park. The Oakland-Mountain Lake Park Lions Club will be hiding thousands of eggs filled with candy and prizes in four different areas for the kids to find. We will have four different age groups, with the first group beginning at 12:00 PM. All children ages 0 – 12 are invited to come out to the hunt.

1st Annual “Walk for Recovery” May 13  @ Deep Creek Lake State Park:Two mile walk to benefit Reflection House
More community events 
I’ve also started a curated list of community events for 2023 which you can check out on my website. The event listing is formatted in a handy postcard which I’ll be happy to send to you FOR FREE if you reply back to this email with your mailing address!

Real estate corner
The number of active residential real estate listings in Garrett County is still at a 10-year low!  As the graph below shows, there is a seasonal cycle, but even the peak of summer 2022 was the lowest in the past decade. Is this level of inventory now the normal level for Garrett County? If it is, there are some important things to know.
For sellers: it’s a great time to think about selling your property. Houses with strong rental potential are especially sought after right now. A properly priced home has high change of selling quickly.
For buyers: it may seem doom and gloom, but almost HALF of the current active listings right now show a price decrease! Interest rates seem to have stabilized and there are more financing products introduced every day to help you afford one of these deals.

Check out my real estate website as well for more information on what’s out there, or call or email me anytime to chat about what’s going on in the market and how to build a strategy to meet your real estate goals!
Mobile: 301 616-7881
Office: 301 387-4700
Email: chrisn@deepcreeksales.com

Introducing the ULTIMATE Deep Creek Lake map!

Hopefully, you’ve already seen my ULTIMATE Garrett County and DCL + 8 town wall maps, and my ULTIMATE Garrett County Adventure Map. By far, the most common requests are for maps specifically of Deep Creek Lake (you can get the DCL + 9 towns map and cut off the bottom, but who wants to deface a map?)

So, I am proud to introduce the ULTIMATE Deep Creek Lake, MD map! It will be available in two formats:

  • Wall map – measuring 24 inches wide by 36 inches tall. This is a standard frame size – you can get them off-the-shelf at Walmart, Target, craft stores in a variety of styles and qualities. Great for your home, office or rental!
  • Fold-up map – the same map, but 24 inches wide by 18 inches tall, with the northern end on one side, and southern on the other. Printed on the same water-proof and tear-resistant paper as my Adventure map, so it’s perfect for the boat and other outdoor recreation!

Just like my other maps, they will be printed in the USA! I have the wall maps printed in Morgantown, WV and the fold-ups in Colorado.

Just like my other maps, it is PACKED with information you won’t find anywhere else and all in one spot. Here’s what’s in there:

  • Roads: US, MD, County, Residential, Trails and Ski lifts
  • Natural features: Streams, Rivers and peaks, with a background of hillshade showing topography
  • Points of interest: police and fire, places of worship, visitor’s center
  • Lake points: the power plant, boat ramps, swimming, fishing access
  • Lake info: depth, bouys, cove names, the “Rule Band”
  • Areas of interest: County and State owned properties, protected lands, communities, and other special areas

Call-out boxes tell you even more about the lake, it’s history and other close-by amenities

I’ll be running a pre-order campaign (through the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter) to raise funds for the initial print run in late March 2023. The MSRP will be around $20 for the wall map version and $12 for the fold-up one, but if you pre-order through the campaign, you’ll be able to get them for a lower price (and help me to pay for a larger print run which will bring the overall costs down)

Without further ado, here’s the draft of the map! Take a look, and let me know if you have comments or suggestions! You can download the draft copy, too, to really drill down to the detail!

Can’t wait to get it printed and into people’s hands!

You can sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send out notification as soon as it becomes available (as well as lots of interesting news, lore and happenings around the area)