History of Garrett County as of 1903

Garrett is the western most county of Maryland, and was created by an Act of the General Assembly in 1872, which divided Allegany County into two sections, naming the western end Garrett, after John W. Garrett, the well-known President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and contained a population of 17,701 in 1900. There are 681 square miles of area in the county, but with little, if any, water surface. It will be thus seen that Garrett is one of our youngest counties, and needs much development. The tax rate of Garrett for 1903 is 90 cents. 


Oakland is the county seat, with a population of 1,170; Deer Park, Mountain Lake Park, Grantsville and Loch Lynn are other incorporated towns. 

Other towns in the county not incorporated are Accident, New Germany, Bittinger, Friendsville, Swanton, Bloomington, Altamont, Button, Crellin, Thayerville, Avilton, Sunnyside, Kitzmillersville, Jennings, Beckman, Finzel, Hoyes, Grug and McHenry. 

These numerous towns indicate rapid settlement of the county in the brief period that the county has been actually in existence, and is also an indication of great natural wealth, which lies to hand for development. 


Garrett is bounded on the north by the Mason and Dixon Line, which separates it from Pennsylvania; on the west by West Virginia; on the south and southwest by West Virginia, and on the east by Allegany County. The geographical survey divides the county into the Potomac Valley District, the Savage Valley District, the Glades Valley District, the Castleman Valley District and the Youghiogheny Valley District. Along the western boundary of the county there is an elevation of over 3,000 feet above sea level. This includes the crest line of the Great Backbone and Big Savage Mountains. Between these mountains lie a range of broad, flat-topped or gently arching hills. 

The entire county is mountainous, but everywhere over the surface, covering hill and valley alike, is found a coating of soil varying in depth and grading imperceptibly into the underlying or resting directly upon the surface of the rocks. In the valleys the soil is usually deep and productive, and on the mountain slope it is shallow and stony. In some places the soil is stained a deep red, not altogether unlike the underlying beds of shale and sandstone. In other places the productive clays seem to bear no relation whatever to the deeply buried limestone, while on the mountain tops the soils seem but a mass of broken gray sandstone, mixed with small amounts of sand and clay. It is this soil covering with which the farmer has to deal. 

This description is partially taken from the volume on Garrett County issued by the Geological Survey: 

Mr. Clarence W. Dorsey, in his article on Garrett County, says: "Its surface is that of a broad, rolling plateau. * * *. The greater part of the county is well drained, but there are several areas of considerable size in the central portion which is swampy; these are known as glades. * * *. A large portion of the county is included within farm boundaries, and more than half of the farm area is not improved. The average sized farm is about 150 acres, but there are many which are over 1,000 acres. * * *. The soils consists mostly of sandy loams." 

Taken as a whole, the soils of Garrett County, in the valleys, yield easily to cultivation; and the principal products of agriculture are buckwheat, oats, hay and potatoes, and a fair yield in some sections of wheat, rye and corn. 

The principal manufactures of the county emanate from the forests, which are plentiful, and consists of lumber, shingles, staves and the mining of coal and shale. 


One of Garrett's chief sources of wealth is her minerals, coal, fire-clay and limestone. The George's Creek coal fields lie along the boundary line between Garrett and Allegany Counties, the major portion being in the latter county, but considerable of the coal being in Garrett The George's Creek coal is known all over the United States as being of a superior quality. Along the Potomac River, the southeastern boundary of Garrett, lies another field of coal, which is just being developed, it may be said. 

While practically throughout the entire county coal may be found, as yet it is undeveloped, it being the smaller veins, and only being worked where it lies near to railroads. It can be said Garrett's resources are inexhaustible. It is only within the past few years that the small seams of coal are being worked, and as the years pass and the large veins become exhausted, it naturally follows that the small veins will be opened up more extensively. Fire-clay is found in abundance in some portions of the county, notably the northeastern section. Limestone is plentiful. 


According to the census of 19oo there were 1,788 farms in the county, the estimated value of which, in 1903, is about $4,671,500, and the total assessed value of property in the county amounts to $7,612,488. 


Garrett is favored by good facilities for reaching the markets of the East and West, being traversed by the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from east to west. The West Virginia Central and Pennsylvania Railroad follows the Potomac River along the southeastern boundary of the county. The Confluence and Oakland Railroad runs from Confluence, Pa., to Krug, and Jennings' Brothers Railroad from the Baltimore and Ohio, at West Salisbury, up to Castleman Valley to a point near Bittinger. 

The old National Turnpike traverses the northern part of the county from east to west, while wagon roads throughout compare favorably with any other section of the State with a like mountainous nature. 


Being a new county, the question as to what the county mostly needs is hard to answer. Unquestionably, farmers would add greatly to its prosperity. It is an agricultural county and its future lies largely in that direction. While the deposits of mineral are large, they are not as compact and clean as in other places, while farming can be carried on even in the mining regions, and much land there is naturally drained and of a smooth surface. On account of the vast amount of humus in the soil in the "Glades" the land is of great value for producing such crops as require a moist and cool climate. There is great opportunity for truck farming in Garrett County, as well as the raising of stock. Dairying could be profitably engaged in. Land is plentiful and can be ought cheap, say from $5 to $40 per acre, and as the county offers considerable advantages for the raising of fruits, berries and vegetables, these industries could be profitably engaged in. Oakland, being but 11 hours from New York, and less to Baltimore and Washington, the mountain fruits and vegetables of a vigorous character, by reason of the pure air of the mountain tops, could be easily transported at profitable prices to these markets. 


The manufacturing and mining industries comprise the principal industries of the county, and the following list may be of value for reference, though meagre in the figures furnished as to the amount of products: 

Lumber and Timber Products

Yough Manor Lumber Company, North West Corners; Jennings Brothers, Jennings; Wilson Lumber Company, Wilson; Preston Lumber and Coal Company, Crellin; Meadow Mountain Lumber Company, Friendsville

Number of employees, 915; value of total product, $608,000; capital invested, $926,000; amount paid annually in wages, $399,200. 

Tanneries Number of employees, 40; value of total product, $260,400; capital invested, $150,000; amount paid annually in wages, $21,800. 

Cheese, Butter, etc.

Accident Creamery Company, Accident. 

Carriages and Wagons

A. D. Naylor, Oakland. 

Flouring and Grist Mill Products

Henry A. Kaese, Accident; Noah S. Garlitz, Avilton; Stark & Ouster, Bittinger; Engle Mills, Cove; Yough Roller Mills, Friendsville; Eli Stanton, Grantsville; Geo. M. Mason, Rasche Roller Mills, Oakland; May & Leighton, Swanton. 

Liquors, Distilled

M. J. Miller's Sons, Accident. 

Lumber and Timber Products

Frederick Hoffman, Accident; Lancaster Manufacturing Company, Zachariah McKinzie, Avilton; Louis Littman, Peter J. Lohr, Murray, Rauch & Condron, Beckman; Durst & Youmer, Bevansville; Silas C. Beachy, C. J. Breneman, Bittinger; C. Holliday & Company, Cove; Jos. P. Moores, Cove Point; Solomon Hoge, Deer Park; Isaac Savage, Fearer; Crowe Brothers' Lumber Company, Finzel; Andrew Rhodes, Floyd; Bear Creek Lumber Company, Friendsville; P. C. Boucher, Herchberger Lumber Company, Grantsville; Frank J. Folk, Keyser; Yough Manor Lumber Company, Krug; Carney & Pendergast, Hutton; McAndrews & Simpson, Christian Otto, Bittinger & Wiley, New Germany; John R. Bowman, Brewmaker Company, Margaret Kerns, D. E. Offutt, Jas. E. Skipper, Oakland; Chas. C. Wilhelm, Sang Run; Ed. J. Frantz, Selbyport; M. D. O'Haver & Sons, Oss Brothers, West & Mosser, Swanton; North American Lumber Company, Bond. 

Lumber and Planing Mill Products

F. G Fox, Friendsville: Kinsinger, Grantsville: Clarence W. Rathbun & Sons, Mountain Lake Park: Oakland Manufacturing Company, Oakland. 


Hoffman, Friendsville; G. H. Pritchard, Oakland. 

Printing and Publishing

Garrett Journal, Mountain Democrat, Republican, Oakland. 

Saddlery and Harness

Henry Schubel, Friendsville; Jas. W. Leathers, Oakland. 

Tinsmithing, Coppersmithing and Sheet Iron Working

A. D. Naylor & Company, G. A. Shirer, Oakland. 

Toys and Games

Hartzell, Cressler & Company, Friendsville. 


Commonwealth Tanning Company, Hutton.