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Boarding Houses


Wish you were here (postcard collection).

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Allegany County
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Come to the paradise of the mountains. Come and see the great hills which God has piled up. Come and hear and see the greatest achievements of man.
Summer tours on picturesque B. & O., 1897

Mountain Lake Park, a town of unique character in Garrett County, Maryland, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. It is a fine example of a Victorian resort that grew out of two American activities of the nineteenth century, the Methodist Camp Meeting which was aimed at spiritual renewal and a Chautauqua, an educational and recreational assembly with programs that included lectures and concerts modeled after the original summer schools inaugurated at Chautauqua, New York in 1874.

The Ticket Office, Bashford Auditorium
built 1900.
In 1881 a group of businessmen and Methodist ministers from Wheeling, West Virginia were inspired to create their own Chautauqua resort. They visited 800 acres known as Hoye's Big Pasture near Oakland in Garrett County. Impressed by the picturesque scenery, the cool, clean mountain air, and convenient train service, the men saw this as the ideal place to refresh the body as well as the soul. They purchased the land for the sum of $4,672 and named it Mountain Lake Park. As for a lake, one didn't exist until about 1896 when a twenty-two acre artificial lake was developed for swimming and boating.

The Assembly Hall was the first building constructed in the Park in the spring of 1882. The first camp meeting was held on these grounds in July 1882 and the first Chautauqua session which blended religious revivalism with cultural and educational activities took place in August. This was the heart of the Park where the Methodist faithful gathered for services, classes, and cultural events. The community's religious and educational programs and their code of conduct provided vacationers with an alternative to the sinful and frivolous entertainments available in other nearby resorts which were founded as secular, speculative ventures. Loch Lynn, a nearby town, was less stringent. That led to the popular saying, "If you want to sin, go to Loch Lynn. For Jesus sake, go to Mountain Lake."

The Ticket Office
refurbished by the Town of Mountain Lake Park, 2003.

For the comfort of those early visitors, the Mountain Lake Park Association provided tents that could be rented for the season. A building boom of cottages, hotels and boarding houses soon followed. Building lots sold for one hundred dollars each. Purchasers had to agree that any house built would cost at least three hundred dollars, unless the builder were a clergyman, in which case the cost was reduced to one hundred fifty dollars. The majority of these houses were frame and were built in various interpretations of the "Country Gothic" or Rural Queen Anne styles, and were painted in the bright colors. The street plan was designed by H.E. Faul who was the engineer of Baltimore's Druid Hill Park. Christian principles were promoted and covenants were established for those living and visiting, which prohibited gambling, card playing, dancing, and the use of alcohol, even in one's own home.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's arrival in 1851 had launched the area as a resort destination. B&O owned a resort hotel in Oakland, two miles to the west of Mountain Lake and they also owned the fashionable Deer Park Hotel, four miles to the east. That created six miles of continuous summer resorts with trains frequently stopping at all three stations. True to its strict religious character, though, the Mountain Lake Park Association prohibited train service on Sunday. In support of Mountain Lake Park, B&O offered passengers special excursion rates and for many years it gave the Park ten percent of all tickets sold.

With the decline in the popularity of Chautauqua programs, World War I, the change in vacation styles with the introduction of the automobile, the Mountain Lake Park Association dissolved in 1921, handing over its property to the Methodist Board of Foreign Missions. In 1931 Mountain Lake Park incorporated as a town. But with a portion of the town designated for historic preservation in 1983 and the refurbishing of the Ticket Office by the Town of Mountain Lake Park in 2003, the colors of Mountain Lake Park are again bright.

More information on Mountain Lake Park and the walking tours around the Historic District can be obtained from the Mountain Lake Park Historic Association, the Town of Mountain Lake Park, 1007 Allegheny Drive, Mountain Lake Park, MD 21550.

The photographs and postcards included in this collection were lent by the Mountain Lake Park Historic Association, Hopwood and Karen Wooddell, James and Shirley Munford, and Kenneth and Cynthia Witte. The assistance of Karen Wooddell was greatly appreciated.

Resources used:

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. 1897. Routes and rates for summer tours via picturesque B. & O., 1897. Baltimore, Md.: Passenger Dept., Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

Pangborne, J.C., 1884. Mountain Lake Park: Summit of the Alleghanies. Illustrated by E.H. Smith. Chicago: Knight and Leonard.

Patrick, Helen, 2003. "Mountain Lake Park Historic District Audio Tour" Written for the Mountain Lake Park Historic Association and recorded by Chip Lee and Kathleen Gibbs. Available from the Mountain Lake Park Town Office.

Young, Jared W., 1951. "When the well comes in; a series of articles on the early history of the Mountain Lake Park Association, and the town of Mountain Lake Park, Maryland", appearing in the Mountain Democrat News, July-December, 1951.


Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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