Garrett County Gazette, January 2023

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Welcome to the December 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!

Affordable Housing Issue Gaining Attention

As you’ll see in my real estate sales report at the end of the newsletter, residential prices in Garrett County have been growing strongly, far outpacing increases in wages.  Combined with record-low inventory of available units, it can be extremely difficult or impossible for a family earning an average wage in Garrett County to afford their own home. People working in vital occupations such as construction workers, teachers,  first responders, and medical personnel are in this class of local residents who are have good stable incomes, but often can’t afford to buy a modest home where they work.
A local grass roots organization has recently been stood up to help address the issue and has held a number of public meetings to gather information and ideas.  Although the group is still in the formative stages, these meetings have been well attended and well run, providing a solid foundation for the organization and an initiative which may be a long term effort, but will pay long-term dividends.
They have started a Facebook Group which I’d encourage you to join if you’re interested in the issue here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/housingforallgc
The QR codes in the picture below take you to a survey to help guide the direction of the group and a link to donate to support this initiative.

What to do outside in the Winter

Although the snow hasn’t come in force yet, cold and blustery winter weather is here.  It’s tempting just to stay inside, but there are plenty of outdoor winter activities you can get into.  Everyone knows about downhill skiing at the Wisp, so I’ll “glide” over that.
  • Cross country skiing – there  needs to be about a foot of snow on the ground (sometimes less if conditions are right) so that rocks and roots are covered up, but it’s a great workout once you’re out there. New Germany and Herrington Manor State Parks both offer ski rentals and have some flat trail areas for beginners.  The Meshach Browning Trails at the McHenry Community Park have some good XC skiing trails which are often groomed when conditions allow (and I have a chance to get out there and ride the snowmobile around on them!) You can check out what it’s like to XC ski at Herrington Manor on my video trail tour there. My dog Spencer, also loves it.
  • Fat Tire biking –  long-timer followers of my adventures know that bikes and I generally don’t get along, so I can’t give you any first-hand information about fat tire biking, but it looks like a blast and a great way to stay biking in the winter.  Herrington Manor State Park rents them if you want to try out the experience. My Lions Club also hosted a Fat Tire Bike “race” at our McHenry Community Park last winter put on by the Deep Creek Adventure Bureau and all reports we got back were the trails were great for biking it. 
  • Ice Skating –  JTF1, a local event and activity group, has built a covered ice rink at the Grantsville Town Park at Pavilion 3. They have public skate times, and skate rentals for all sizes of feet.  Check out more info on when/where it is here. You can also skate on Deep Creek Lake (or other frozen lakes or ponds) – just be careful! You can check out my video on skating on the lake here where I go over some safety checks you should be aware of. 
  • Snowshoeing and hiking – And then there’s just good old walking around in the woods! If the snow is really deep (about 2 feet) and there’s no trail already broken, you’ll probably want some snowshoes, but for the most part, a good pair of water resistant boots will be fine.  During the winter, I like relatively dry trails that drain well and have a great view.  The High Rock  and Meadow Mountain Overlook Trails are two of my favorites for keeping your feet dry and ending with amazing overlooks. 
I know, it’s tough to get out there, but if you do, there are lots of options to stay healthy and active in the winter.  (and my Ultimate Garrett County Adventure Map can help you find some great spots, too!)

Introducing Deekie, the Deep Creek Dragon

Introducing Deekie, the Deep Creek Dragon! He likes long flights over the mountains, naps on piles of gold and enjoys his steaks well done.  
Although he’s from Deep Creek Lake, Deekie loves to explore and will be joining me for adventures all around Garrett County! Stay tuned!


 You can follow along our adventures on Facebook and Instagram! 

History Corner

Speaking of my social media accounts, I recently had a map giveaway contest to identify where this postcard photo was taken from in 1939.  

Need some more help? Here’s a more recent view

If you’re still stumped, here’s the original photo annotated with some landmarks and the answer. What makes me happy about this view is that it hasn’t really changed in the past 60 years.  In fact, there are several spots that are more wooded than before. 

I’ll be doing similar contests each month – yet another reason to like/follow/subscribe to my social media accounts! 

Facebook and Instagram
 

Local stuff to do

Blind Skier 50th Anniversary Gala
Feb 7, 5 to 10pm @ Wisp Report: A night you won’t forget to celebrate 50 years of the Deep Creek Lake Lions teaching visually impaired kids how to ski.  Delicious dinner and drinks, a keynote speech by Brian McKeever (the world’s most decorated Paralympic XC skier), fireworks, an amazing silent and live auction and more! 
https://blindskier50.com/


Deep Creek Dunk
February 25, 2023 @ Unos
Join the crowd for the 24th Annual MSP/NRP Deep Creek Dunk and take a daring dip into the frozen Deep Creek Lake to benefit the 4,340 athletes of Special Olympics Maryland!
Dunk website


Events in 2023
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 perspective

 
Have we hit the price peak for real estate in Garrett County and Deep Creek Lake? Only time well tell, but there is a lot of info in my Garrett County Real Estate Sales report I just put together.  

In this graph, I show the average sales price and numbers of sales each year going back to 1993 for the DCL Area and Rest of Garrett County.  You can clearly see that rising trend since 2019 I talked about in the Housing Availability section above. There’s lot more info in the full report. You can download the full report or get the link to a narrated video of it on my website
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 these trends and how to build a strategy to meet your real estate goals! 
That’s it for this edition! Thanks for checking it out! If you’ve got ideas or suggestions for articles, or questions about the area, don’t hesitate to reach out!

-Chris
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Garrett County Gazette, December 2022

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Welcome to the December 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!

New non-profit to assist women with substance abuse disorders

Reflection House is a new nonprofit organization and the first to establish recovery housing in Garrett County Maryland.  ​As a 12-month, Level 2 residential recovery program, Reflection House provides addiction counseling services, and linkages to health and behavioral health services to women with substance use disorder in Western Maryland. ​

Using a social enterprise model, residents receive training in life and relationship skills, job skills and real-world coping skills to support their sustained recovery.

I think this fills a critical need in the area, not only to help women who have issues with substance abuse, but to help them build the everyday life skills so that they are less susceptible to relapse.  Want to learn more about Reflection House and how to help? The website is always a good place to start and so is their Facebook page.  Terah Crawford just did a really great interview with Suzette Merrick of the organization, too.  Make  a donation or help them out if you can – getting a non-profit started from the ground up is really tough and those first few years are critical.

Fix your tax problem and save Christmas!

Speaking of non-profits, did you know they can fix your tax problems, make the world a better place AND save Christmas!
For your tax problem, there are many qualified 501(c)3 non-profits you can donate to and your donation is tax deductible (great for required minimum distributions as well!). 
A donation in your donee’s name to that organiztion also makes a great Christmas gift! Many will send a handwritten card acknowledging the donation to you or your giftee!  Let’s face it, does anyone really need another widget or tchotchke? Give a gift that makes everyone feel good and makes the world a better place!
Sarah Myers over the Deep Creek Times has done awesome job of compiling a list of local non-profits.
And Terah Crawford does a series of Community Talk interviews on the Deep Creek Real Estate Facebook page (like the one about Reflection House above) with lots of great info on local organizations and businesses that I’d encourage you to check out, too.

First Day Hikes

First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors.  On New Year’s Day, 5 of our local State Parks will offer ranger-led and self-guided hikes.  It’s a great way to bring in the new year with a healthy and fun family activity.  Plus, you can get a sticker, too! Here’s a listing of the Garrett County State Parks participating in the First Day Hikes.
Where should I be hiking and getting outside the rest of the year, you ask? Well, I’ve got you covered there, too! I’ve been working on better ways to get trail information out to people and just put together a sortable table of all of the public trail areas in the County. The table, on my wesbite, allows you to sort by criteria like the intensity and use types like walking, biking XC skiing and so forth. 

I’ve also put together a few other ways to get trail info out. Let me know what’s the most useful way for you to find out about new trails and outdoor stuff to do!

History Corner

There are a number of long forgotten towns in Garrett County, many of which rose and fell with the coal industry.  Shallmar, upstream from Kitzmiller on the Potomac, was one them.  In the fall of 1949, the residents of Shallmar, were starving. The coal mine that was the town’s only business had closed in March and most of the miners had no cars so that they could drive to another town to look for work. Their unemployment benefits had ran out over the summer and they had maxed out their credit at the company store.

Then the children began fainting in school. Principal J. Paul Andrick knew something needed to be done before things got worse. He began writing letters and making phone calls, hoping for a way to help the town’s residents.

As Shallmar’s story got out, people responded. Aid came from nearly every state in the country and from some other countries as well. just in time for Christmas.

Schoolboys at Shallmar unloading food and clothing donated by other communities

For the full story, local historian James Rada has an online article and a nice short book that will bring cheer to your heart about the giving nature of people.

And for my monthly plug for the Garrett County Historical Society, the December issue of the Glades Star has a nice article on forgotten or seldom seen places in the area.  It’s just $25 to join the GCHS and you get FOUR issues of the Glades Star every year! (remember that stuff about non-profits, and Christmas gift giving?)

Local stuff to do

Ice skating!
JTF Ice Rink is open in Grantsville Park, Pavilion 3.  They have a full schedule of public skates, party reservations, learn to skate sessions, and other special skates.  All sessions are limited on the number of participants so you should buy your admissions in advance but drop ins are also welcome.  Public skates are limited to scheduled times.  
Visit the JTF site for more info: https://www.jtf1.com/jtf-ice-rink

Light show

I’m getting this out a a bit late, but there’s still time to enjoy the great light show in Oakland through Jan 1st.
Joy of Christ Light Show: Oakland Community Center (aka the Armory) 5 to 10 PM each night. Show begins at the top and half of each hour. Just show up, park, and enjoy!


Blind Skier 50th Anniversary Gala
Feb 7, 5 to 10pm @ Wisp Report: A night you won’t forget to celebrate 50 years of the Deep Creek Lake Lions teaching visually impaired kids how to ski.  Delicious dinner and drinks, a keynote speech by Brian McKeever (the world’s most decorated Paralympic XC skier), fireworks, an amazing silent and live auction and more! 
https://blindskier50.com/


Events in 2023
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 perspective

 
The market seems to be shifting more towards buyers – there have been a number of price reductions for properties that have been on the market for awhile.  Combined with moderating interest rates and the wide range of loan products out there, it’s likely you can find a good deal at a monthly payment you can afford. For sellers, it’s all about have your property priced correctly when it hits the market and having reasonable expectations for what it is worth.  
Check out my real estate website for more information on what’s out there, or call or email me anytime! 
That’s it for this edition! Thanks for checking it out! If you’ve got ideas or suggestions for articles, or questions about the area, don’t hesitate to reach out!

-Chris
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Garrett County Gazette, October 2022

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Welcome to the October 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!

Crellin Elementary School Continues Trend of Excellence

A recent Facebook post on the Garrett County Public School’s page caught my eye.  Over a couple of days in October, Crellin Elementary School hosted  professors and education students from West Virginia University. If you’re not familiar with Crellin, it’s an unincorporated tiny town east of Oakland. It began as a timber company town and then a coal town, and now not much remains of what must have been a fairly bustling center of activity. But through a unique confluence of the GCPS, the local community and excellent staff, the elementary school in Crellin is shining star.  CES regularly receives all kinds of awards and recognition for its high quality education and unique hands-on experiential setting.  What’s really remarkable here is that university-level faculty and students came to an elementary school, in another state, to see an example of innovative and excellent education.  Just another example of Garrett County Greatness!

Students of CES and WVU educators at the school’s streamside laboratory

Little Free Pantries of Garrett County

Here’s another news item with a Crellin Elementary School tie-in.  In 2019, CES 4th Grader  Alex Hanline began a a project to help provide food to those in need in Garrett County as part of  the “Be the Change” program at the school.  This project turned into the “Little Free Pantries of Garrett County” modeled on Little Free Libraries where you can take what you need and leave what you can. There are now Pantries at  four locations in the County: Crellin Elementary, Oakland City Hall, Friendsville Town Hall, and McHenry Lion’s Club Park, and are accessible 24/7 (I will make a quick plug for the Deep Creek Lake Lions Club which sponsored two of them). Alex recently was invited to a regional meeting of the WoodmenLife group at Rocky Gap, where he received a sizeable donation of food to help stock the Pantries.  Kudos to Alex and the WoodmenLife group for helping to make our community a better place! 
 
Alex with the massive food donation from the WoodmenLife group

Garrett County: resistant to extreme weather since 300,000,000 BC 

After the recent hurricane in Florida, I revisiited a map I had made about 5 years ago which showed the tracks of hurricanes and tornados for the past 100 years or so in the region around Garrett County.  This time I updated the data and added hailstorms and forest fires. The unscientific but compelling takeway from the map is that Garrett County is in a sweet spot for avoiding these extreme weather events.  Plus our Autumns are usually pretty awesome! So, if you don’t mind a moderate amount of snow in the winter, Garrett County is a great place to be! More info on the the map and the title on my blog

The map  shows wildfires (orange dots) and hailstorms (green tracks)  with  hurricanes and storms in blue (darker lines indicate more severe storms) and tornados in red (same theme as hurricanes)

History Corner

Well, since we’re on a Crellin theme in this newsletter, it’s only natural that we have a bit of history on it.  Crellin was really “born” on May 28th, 1892 when a Post Office bearing that name opened in the town.  Previously, the settlement was called “Sunshine” but  was then was officially named after Roland Crellin, a Pennsylvania businessman who led a consortium in 1891 to build a railway line through the area to harvest and transport the vast timber resources. Soon the Preston Railroad was hauling logs to a mill operating in town and the Preston Lumber and Coal Company was sawing 60,000 feet of lumber per day. Over the next few decades, the timber resources dwindled and local coal mines became the primary employment of residents of the town. From around 1925 to 1956 when the last nearby mine closed, Crellin was a coal company town. 


Now, not much remains of this legacy, but the former office and company store building of the Stanley Coal Company still stands, now the site of the Henline Auction House, usually holding an auction on most Saturday mornings. Just taking a look around at the items Mr Henline has amassed in this building is worth checking one of the auctions.

Upcoming Events

Halloween Events 
I missed a couple in getting this newsletter out a bit late, but there is still a lot of spooky fun coming up over Halloween weekend: Festival of Trees
November 25 & 26, @  Garrett Co Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall: this cheerful, affordable family event has become a tradition for thousands of locals, as well as visitors to the County. Benefiting the Dove Center, Garrett County’s domestic violence and sexual assault services program, the Festival of Trees includes something for everyone. 


Events in 2023
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 perspective

I’ve been reading some articles on how to sell the idea that it’s a good time to buy/sell property. While I’m sure a good real estate sales professional can maybe give you an extra push to make that decision,  overall the right time for a property transaction is when it’s right for your personal and financial situation.  If that may be in your future, I’m always happy to talk about buying or selling property or just chat with you about the market and the area in a low pressure environment. Check out my real estate website for more information, or call or email me anytime! 
That’s it for this edition! Thanks for checking it out! If you’ve got ideas or suggestions for articles, or questions about the area, don’t hesitate to reach out!

-Chris
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Garrett County Gazette, November 2022

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Welcome to the November 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!

Local extracurricular activities score big

I say it a lot: “Garrett County punches way above our weight class” It’s true for a variety of things, but notably for our youth extracurricular activities like sports and band. Here’s a roundup of some of these accomplishments:
 

Northern Garrett High Girls and Boys Cross-Country Teams Win State Championships

The Northern Garrett Girls Cross-Country team captured their third consecutive 1A state title on Saturday at Hereford High School. The Northern Garrett Boys’ team also earned the 1A state title, the first time this occurred in school history.

 

Southern Garrett Marching Band Winner of the 2022 Tournament of Bands 1A Atlantic Coast Championship

Congratulations to the Southern Garrett Marching Band for winning the 2022 Tournament of Bands 1A Atlantic Coast Championship. The band completed this competition with an impressive score of 95.02. Additionally, the band received the Best Visual, Best Music, and Best Percussion awards.

 

Garrett Composite Mountain Bike Team Earns Community Award

Maryland Interscholastic Cycling League directors and core staff awarded the Garrett County Coyotes the  “Community Award” during a recent event. This award is given to a  MICL team that goes above and beyond to help build a better community we live in and within the MICL league. 

Go Garrett County! 

Deep Creek Lake Lions Blind Skier 50th Anniversary Gala

The Deep Creek Lions Club is proud to present the Blind Skier 50th Anniversary Gala on Tuesday February 7th, 2023 at the Wisp Resort. Since 1973, the Club has been providing visually impaired youth with the opportunity to learn to downhill ski through this program.  Please help support the Club’s many community activities and celebrate by attending or sponsoring the gala celebration. Visit BLINDSKIER50.COM for more information.

How can you help?

This is going to be a night you won’t forget! The event will feature an inspiring presentation by  Brian McKeever, a Canadian cross-country skier and biathlete, who is the most decorated Paralympic cross-country skier ever with a career total of 13 gold medals and 17 medals in all. In addition to Brian McKeever’s inspiring presentation, the event will offer a silent auction, a delicious dinner, cash bar, music, fireworks, an awards program, and other special surprise events  to commemorate this momentous anniversary. 

Map Sale – 30% off all my maps!

Celebrating Garrett County History, early Christmas shopping AND small businesses!
30% off ALL my maps through Dec 5, 2022. Use the coupon code GC150
On November 4 1872, the citizens of the western part of Allegany County MD voted to form a new county and on Dec 4, 1872 Garrett County was officially formed! So, for the 30 day period of Nov 4 to Dec 5, I’ll celebrate the founding of the County with 30% off ALL my maps of Garrett County and Deep Creek Lake MD.
Do some early Christmas shopping, celebrate the County’s birthday AND support a local small business!
The BEST maps of Garrett County and Deep Creek Lake here: https://narrowshill.com/

I have 4 different maps I’ve produced – The Ultimate Wall maps of Garrett County and Deep Creek Lake; Deep Creek: Then and Now; and my fold-up Ultimate Adventure Map.

History Corner

Well since I brought up my “Deep Creek: Then and Now” map above, I’ll spend a bit of time on one of the interesting spots and my home area – Narrows Hill.
In this detail from the map, I’ve zoomed in on the Narrows Hill area.  The map’s background layer is a 1901 topographical map showing the general terrain, roads and structures at that time.  Overlaid are today’s roads (in black) and the lake (translucent blue). I don’t really think the roads have moved since then, but over the scale of the whole map, it’s tough to get everything to align completely.
Narrows Hill generally lies in the area “between the bridges”  – that is the Glendale and State Park Bridges –  and continues roughly to Toothpick and Beckman’s Peninsula Roads. Before there was a Deep Creek LAKE, there was just Deep CREEK and the Narrows is where Deep Creek carved through the terrain to create a rocky gorge which you can still see on either side of the Glendale Bridge.

You’ve probably already noticed the “STATE DAM” labeled around where today’s Glendale Bridge is.  Before the current dam, there was actually a much smaller dam on Deep Creek to create a fish hatchery pond.  You can find out more about this dam (and a couple of other actual and proposed ones on Deep Creek) on my website

Upcoming Events

Festival of Trees
November 25 & 26, @ Garrett Co Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall: this cheerful, affordable family event has become a tradition for thousands of locals, as well as visitors to the County. Benefiting the Dove Center, Garrett County’s domestic violence and sexual assault services program, the Festival of Trees includes something for everyone. 

Christmas in the Village
Dec 2-3 @ Spruce Forest Artisan Village: music, tree lighting, luminaries and all the artisans are open for business. A great way to start the holiday season. More info


A Great Small Town Christmas! 
Dec 2, evening @ Downtown Oakland:  tree lighting ceremony and the Walking Holiday Light Parade, led by Santa Claus himself and many free and family-friendly activities downtown. More info

The Oakland Express at the B&O Museum
December 10, 5:30 -7:30pm @ B&O Train Station: free event for children ages 4-9! Crafts, snacks, and Santa!
Reservations are required. Please call 301-334-2691 to sign up.

Events in 2023
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 perspective

 
I’m sure you’ve heard the doom and gloom regarding interest rates in the news.  Well, it’s not all bad news.  Properties, correctly priced, are still selling quickly.  You can still get a reasonable interest rate working with a good loan officer. Would you like to know what your home is worth or what kind of home is available in your price range?  I’m always happy to talk about buying or selling property or just chat with you about the market and the area in a low pressure environment. Check out my real estate website for more information, or call or email me anytime! 
That’s it for this edition! Thanks for checking it out! If you’ve got ideas or suggestions for articles, or questions about the area, don’t hesitate to reach out!

-Chris
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Fall Foliage Overlooks in Garrett County

Looking for the best spots to check out the Autumn colors of Garrett County – here are my picks for great overlooks (and they are great the rest of the year, too!)

Watch the video version Visit my online map Buy the Ultimate Adventure fold-up map

Here are the points I mention in the video (links take you to my online map centered on that overlook), plus a few more I forgot!

  • High Rock Firetower – A moderate uphill hike of around 2 miles, opening up on an 180 degree view to the northwest over Savage River State Forest. Video trail tour on YouTube A riveting podcast on the death of Alexander Stevens details a mysterious and controversial murder here.
  • Monroe Run Overlook – Pull off along New Germany Road, not quite accessible for all ability levels, but most should be able to walk down to the overlook over Monroe Run with a nice stone wall.
  • Meadow Mountain Trail – A short low-to-moderate hike to an observation deck. Largely overlooks the same area as the Monroe Run Overlook, but higher.
  • Hoye’s Crest (MD Highpoint) – A difficult but short hike to Maryland’s highest point. A nice viewscape cut to the east and a picnic table to enjoy a lunch at the top.
  • Deep Creek Lake State Park Trails – A moderate hike to the top of Meadow Mountain with an observation deck where a couple of clear cuts used to overlook the main body of Deep Creek Lake. The view has largely grown in, however, but you can still get a few glimpses from there.
  • Hoop Pole Ridge – Heading north on US-219, you can pull off before Sand Flat Rd and have a nice view of southern Deep Creek Lake
  • Friendsville Rd – Heading south on MD-42 (Friendsville Rd), great open view to your right over the Youghiogheny Rover valley and beyond
  • Maryland Welcome Center – Heading east on I-68 from the WV border, get off at the MD Welcome Center for a nice overlook of the Youghiogheny River Lake and mountains
  • The Cove Overlook – heading south of US-219 from I-68, there is a pull-off overlook and rest area with a view of “The Cove”, a pleasant valley of farms, fields and forested hills
  • St John’s Rock – On top of a rocky ridge of Big Savage Mountain, this area provides a view to the east over mountains and the town of Frostburg

Two overlooks I forgot to mention in the video:

Where else do YOU like to check out the amazing views of Garrett County?

Garrett County: resistant to extreme weather since 300,000,000 BC

Hurricane Ian’s (Sept 2022) recent devastation of Florida (and other states) got me working on updating my extreme weather map of Garrett County and the region. I had created a map in 2014 that showed the tracks of major storms and tornados in the eastern half of the US.

I was happy with how it came out – the main point I was trying to get across is that Garrett County is a good place to live since historically, hurricanes and tornados are unlikely to hit here. I also like the colors (someone commented they thought it looked like an Easter basket).

I’ve just updated the map and added wildfires (orange dots) and hailstorms (green tracks). Now, the hurricanes and storms are in blue (darker lines indicate more severe storms) and tornados in red (same theme as hurricanes)

A bit of a different projection (map orientation) and I changed the Easter basket colors, but this map is updated to 2021 data. Garrett County (and WV) are still great areas to avoid major storms, tornados, hail storms (I know, probably not life threatening, but good to avoid if you have a nice new car) and wildfires (which can be life threatening). Let’s zoom in a bit with Garrett County highlighted.

We’ve had a handful of tornados and just a couple of hurricanes pass through you can see at this scale. I’ve also included the terrain, in shaded gray, to highlight the Appalachians. They largely shield us from weather coming from both the East (hurricanes) and the West (tornados). You can start to see the wildfires and hailstorms in this scale of the map, too. Let’s get in nice and close for one more zoom in.

What’s evident here is the minimal number of wildfires in Garrett County while the surrounding area in the Alleghenies does have a fair amount. There are likely multiple reasons for this, ranging from weather, population density and forest management practices.

If you can chose where you live, there are lots of factors that go into that decision. Economics is probably top of the list – whether you can get a job or grow a business are big concerns. Weather is probably next – many people don’t like to ever see a single snowflake in the their lifetimes (I’m the opposite – I like to see many). And related to weather is climate and the prevalence and frequency of extreme weather events. Just to make a massive oversimplification, areas with “better” weather are more likely to experience extreme weather events like hurricanes, tornados (and forest fires which are kind of an inverse of extreme weather events). So let’s take Florida for example. It has pleasant winter weather and residents can expect to never deal with snow, but extreme weather like hurricanes area looming danger. In Garrett County, you may deal with more snow in the winter, but the statistical danger of a high kinetic energy storm is much lower.

If you made it this far, I’m sure you want to know why I headlined this post that GC has been “resistant to extreme weather since 300,000,000 BC”. I primarily credit our mountains for shielding us from weather, whether it’s coming from the east or west (is there a literary term for serial homonyms in a sentence? The first person to email me with this term at chris.nichols@dimesy.com with the answer gets a free map pack).

The Appalachian Mountains and our Alleghany Range are ancient – they are rounded and gentle now, but were sharp and “pointy” like the Rocky Mountains when they first formed, oh, about 300 million years ago.

The image above is from a super-cool visualizer or what the Earth could have looked like hundreds of millions of years ago. The mountains from the Carboniferous Era may have been rounded down a bit since then, but they still provide us with lots of protection from the weather (and dinosaurs!).

Hiking the Shoreline of Deep Creek Lake

Just how long is the shoreline of Deep Creek Lake? Most sources say 64 miles, but I’ve seen “authoritative” values of 69 and 74 miles as well (two different signs at the State Park – within visual distance of each other – claim the 64 and 69 mile distances). So, I decided to do the logical thing and hike the shoreline to find out.

Everything you know is wrong. Black is white, up is down, that other political party you hate really is right, and the published length of the shoreline of Deep Creek Lake is drastically incorrect.   From January 2021 to March 2022, I hiked the shoreline of Deep Creek Lake over 6 legs and tabulated the full distance of 72.2 miles which is entirely different from range published by the DNR of 65-69 miles.  What else are they hiding from us? Where are all those extra miles of shoreline? Is there a secret enclave of the elite there? All will be revealed in this article.

In the 2021-2022 winter season, Brookfield Renewable, the operator of the dam, lowered the lake level to 2,455.5 ft for maintenance.  There are a number of spots I wouldn’t have been able to really follow the shoreline if the water levels hadn’t been this low. 

So, what have I found so far? One of the first things I have been struck by are the prevalence of bivalves (“mussels”) and mollusks (“snails”) along some of the stretches of the lake shore.  I’ve never been aware that there were populations of them before, so I contacted Julie Bortz, the DNR biologist for the lake, to see if she could tell me anything about them. 

The  mollusks I found are Chinese or Japanese Mystery Snails and they are actually an invasive species, so the DNR is interested in keeping track of them.  If you see any north of the North Glade area, be sure to let Julie know at julie.bortz@maryland.gov.  Then be sure to pick up a few to get a fancy French appetizer for free!  The bivalves were likely the Eastern Floater Mussel and they are unremarkable. But if you see any critters or plants you’re not sure about, definitely send Julie an email with a photo and she’ll check it out.  

My second observation is that while there are about 15 obvious feeder streams to Deep Creek Lake, when you are walking the shoreline, especially in the southern end, especially after some rainfall, it’s clear that there are many more springs and seeps that also feed water (and sediment) into the lake.  There were several muddy slogs through areas of shoreline where there was no visible running water, but there was obviously flow coming from the land.  Seeing this perspective really makes the issue of sedimentation more obvious than driving around these coves in the boat.

After so many muddy areas, my wife who accompanied me on one of the legs of the trip, found a quicker way to cross Green Glade Run.  I opted to go a bit further upstream where I could jump across some rocks. 

For Leg 3 of my hike, I started from Turkey Neck and made it to the Glendale bridge for a total of 14.7 miles. It was late January and the lake was still frozen, which made this hike much easier than if I had to cross all of the tributaries on this stretch.  One of the highlights of this portion was getting to the “headwaters” of the lake at the southernmost end.  Deep Creek really wasn’t too deep at the point where it flows into the lake, so I guess it must have gotten its name further downstream.  But this was a nice spot, and one that I would have probably never made it to if I had not been doing this hike.

View from the southernmost end of the lake

The rest of Leg 3 was relatively uneventful.  The day started fairly clear and developed into a fairly heavy snowstorm.  Luckily my end point at the Glendale bridge is less than a mile from home, so it was easy to wrap up the day. 

For leg 4, from the Glendale Bridge to the northernmost point of the lake, I had a beautiful bluebird February day.  The lake was still mainly frozen, and combined with the great weather, I logged 18.8 miles which is way more than I was planning.  One of the highlights from this stretch was that I brought my drone along and got some cool footage of the frozen lake. 

Aerial picture of the lake around stump point

For transiting the area around the dam, it was especially critical that the lake was still frozen since I wouldn’t have been able to walk that section on land.  Most of the stretch of shoreline from the 219 Bridge to the dam was very quiet, but there was a lot of activity on the lake as I got closer to the Wisp and more of the houses that were rented.

Future Olympians

I had the pleasure of participating in a round of Beer Curling being played by a group of college guys on the ice.  I am looking forward to when it takes its rightful place in the Olympic pantheon.  

Exhausted, but very satisfied with my progress, I ended this leg near the northernmost tip of the lake.

A few weeks after I finished Leg 4, the ice had melted and I realized I had better get out for the last stretch before the levels came back up.  I got lucky with another day of great weather for Leg 5 of 11.1 miles. This last stretch was more about little unexpected discoveries.  One of my coolest finds was a flag that had broken off the Deep Creek Lake robo-boat during the Boat Parade last year.  I remember watching it sink into the water and figuring we’d never see it again, but the Lady of the Lake decided to give it back.   Some other items of note were an interesting ice phenomenon, a retaining wall made of old gravestones and a tunnel leading to those extra miles of lakeshore.

This way to the secret Illuminati base

No, it wasn’t anything that exciting, just a culvert passing under 219 to Gravely Run, but another example of seeing new from a different point of view.

The weather for this leg was fairly warm and sunny all day, so I got it in my head that a jump in the lake at the end would be a fun way to wrap up the hike.  So even though the sun was going down and it was cooling off quickly when I got back to where I originally started, I still braved the water for a celebratory plunge.  My normally faithful companion Spencer decided that he wasn’t ready to follow me into the lake, though.

Even Man’s Best Friend has his limits

So, after logging 72.2 miles of hiking the shoreline, did I have any major epiphanies? Not really, it was more of a lot of little discoveries along the way.  Overall, it was a fun personal challenge and a way to see the lake from a new perspective. So, even if you don’t have the time, ability or desire to hike the whole length, I’d recommend even just some little parts of the route that you can take on.

And just in case my tongue-in-cheek tone did not come through, I did not have any real intention of establishing an official measurement of the lakeshore.  Not only were my methods inadequate for the job (my phone’s activity tracker app), there’s a whole long discussion on “what” the actually shoreline is and how do you really measure it. For the time being, how about we all agree that the length of the shoreline is “around 70 miles”?

There are links to lots more videos, photos, maps and other adventures around the area at my website, dimesy.com.  What should I do next? I’m thinking a “boat-packing” trip, where I follow the lakeshore in a canoe and sleep on board overnights.  I’ll be looking for places to stop for a beer along the way. . .

How long have you had a place at Deep Creek Lake?

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.

Post-war 1946-1965

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.

Garrett County, MD: Pet Paradise

It’s a great place to live or visit with your pet (especially your dog!)

Dog parks

Oakland Town Dog Park
27 Oakland Rosedale Road, Oakland, MD 21550
https://oaklandmd.com/dog-park.html

McHenry Community Park (operated by the Deep Creek Lake Lions Club)
1249 Bumble Bee Rd Accident MD 21520
https://deepcreeklions.org/service-programs/mchenry-community-park/

Pick up your dog waste!

County and Municipal areas

  • 7 of the 8 incorporated municipalities have some form of walking path suitable for short walks (Accident, Friendsville, Grantsville, Kitzmiller, Loch Lynn, Mountain Lake Park and Oakland)
  • County-owned recreational properties: Fork Run, McHenry Community Park and Casselman Soccer Fields
  • Leashed, licensed and vaccinated dogs are not prohibited in any of these areas, to the best of my knowledge
  • Use your best judgement and check before you go if possible
  • Garrett County Animal Control Ordinance: https://www.garrettcounty.org/animal-shelter/animal-control-ordinance

State parks

  • Big Run – camping
  • Casselman River – not much for dogs
  • Deep Creek Lake – camping, trails, swimming
  • Herrington Manor – camping, trails, swimming
  • New Germany – camping, trails, swimming
  • Sang Run – trail
  • Swallow Falls – trails, camping
  • Wolf Den Run – camping, trails

Other State Land

  • Savage River SF – Trails and camping throughout
  • Potomac-Garrett SF – Trails and camping throughout
  • Mt Nebo WMA trail
  • Youghigheny NEA trail

State Park Pet Rules

  • All pets must be licensed and have all required vaccinations, including a rabies vaccination.
  • Pets must be leashed. Pets may be off-leash and under voice control while swimming in designated areas or hunting (with the appropriate permit).
  • Pet owners must clean up after their pet. Waste disposal containers are available in most areas.
  • Service animals are permitted in all pedestrian areas.
  • Pets, with the exception of service animals, are not allowed in park buildings or playgrounds.
  • Pet owners must obey all park signs that prohibit the entry of pets into specific areas.
  • Excessive barking is not permitted in any park area, especially during campground “quiet hours” (10:00 p.m.- 7:00 a.m.).
  • https://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/pages/pets.aspx
•https://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/documents/MPSPetPolicy.pdf

Federal recreation areas

  • Jennings Randolph Lake
  • •Youghiogheny River Lake
    • Both MD and PA sides have campgrounds and boat launches
  • •I have only been able to find rules related to pets in the camping areas (allowed on leash) but nothing about pets in the other areas – use your best judgement

Swimming spots

  • Deep Creek, Herrington Manor and New Germany Lakes (with the limitations per the table above
  • Yough River and Jennings Randolph Lakes – not explicitly prohibited that I can find
  • Yough, Potomac and Savage Rivers – there are some level sandy public access areas on these rivers, but I’d be reluctant to let my dog swim in them
  • NO Swimming for dogs: Broadford Lake and  probably Savage River Reservoir (humans are not allowed to swim there)

Good trails for dogs

  • I like low traffic, wide straight (good visibility) trails when hiking with my dog:
    • Mt Nebo
    • Negro Mt
    • Asa Durst
    • Wallman and Laurel Run areas
  • Also, trails that follow a stream or river can be nice
    • Poplar Lick and Monroe Run trails
    • Kendall trail

Local veterinarians