DNR Encourages Visitors to “Discover Maryland’s History In Your Parks” During State Parks Week May 21-30

ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that the theme for this year’s State Parks Week is “Discover Maryland’s History in your Parks.” State Parks Week is May 21 through May 30.

During State Parks Week, the Maryland Park Service, in partnership with the Friends of Maryland State Forests and Parks, Inc., invites Marylanders to visit their favorite state park and get involved in the celebration. There will be special activities taking place such as hikes, children’s programs, historical re-enactments, living history demonstrations, canoe trips, fishing and much more.

“DNR is the largest proprietor of historic sites in Maryland, maintaining over 500 buildings of historical significance on 259 sites across the state, mostly in state parks,” said Colonel Rick Barton, Superintendent of the Maryland Park Service. “We feel very fortunate to have day-to-day interaction with these pieces of Maryland history.”

Western Maryland

Fort Frederick State Park (Washington County) – A large stone fort built by the colony of Maryland in 1756-58 to defend its frontier during the French and Indian War, the last of the wars fought between French colonists in Canada and English colonists in America. The fort's original stone walls have been restored, as well as the two enlisted men's barracks. Fort Frederick will celebrate its 250th anniversary next year, with a major birthday bash over Memorial Day weekend of 2006. Costumed interpreters are available during the summer months to conduct tours and special events are held periodically, spring through fall.

South Mountain State Battlefield (straddles the border of Frederick and Washington Counties) – Site of a small but critical battle fought three days before the Battle of Antietam. Small contingents of Confederates held three passes in the mountain against attacks by numerically superior Union forces for one day, September 14, 1862, while Confederate General Robert E. Lee reassembled his army to make a stand at Antietam on September 17. Costumed interpreters are available upon request and special events are held spring to fall.

Central Maryland

Susquehanna State Park (Harford County) – Steppingstone Farm Museum, dedicated to farming techniques of the 1880s-1920s, is located in the park, which is open on weekends. The Rock Run Mill complex features a working grist mill built in the 1790s, a stone mansion house, and other historic structures. Generally open on weekends during the summer season.

Gunpowder Falls State Park (Harford County) – Jerusalem Mill village, a partially restored mill village of the mid-19th century, offers displays and crafts demonstrations on summer weekends as well as special concerts from time to time. The state restored the mill and the Friends of Jerusalem Mill lease four other state-owned buildings that they have restored or are in the process of restoring.

Southern Maryland

Smallwood State Park (Charles County) – Restored colonial home of William Smallwood, a major-general in the Continental Army during the Revolution and later a governor of Maryland. Open for tours on weekends.

Point Lookout State Park (St. Mary's County) – Site of the largest Civil War prison camp, 52,000 Confederate soldiers and sympathizers were held there between 1863 and 1865. Also the site of what was considered at that time a state-of-the-art military hospital. Most features from the Civil War have eroded away, but one fort has been fully restored and is manned from time to time by costumed volunteers. The park visitor center has exhibits about the prison and hospital.

Eastern Maryland

The Beach to Bay Indian Trail (Somerset County) – Traveling on foot or by canoe, Native Americans created trails used later by the first European settlers. Many of these early routes have become the very roads you drive as you follow this byway. Get a brochure and follow the 131-mile route that links Smith Island on the Chesapeake Bay to Ocean City.

Underground Railroad – (Worcester and Queen Anne’s Counties) Because key locations on the Underground Railroad were kept secret 150 years ago, it cannot be said for certain what involvement Eastern Shore parks had in the “Network to Freedom.” However, by being located on secluded waterways, many state parks, such as Pocomoke and Tuckahoe, are likely candidates to have been parts of the network.

Getting to Maryland’s parks is easier than ever now that both resident and non-resident park passes can be purchased on the DNR website (http://www.dnr.maryland.gov ). As an extra incentive for visiting a state park during State Parks Week, DNR is offering a $10 discount on park passes if purchased between May 21-30. Resident passes normally $75 will be $65, while non-resident passes normally $100 will be sold for $90. Regular prices will apply again starting June 1.

Marylanders can find directions and more information about all of the state forests and parks by visiting http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/
or visit the DNR Events Calendar at http://dnrweb.dnr.maryland.gov/dnrasp/websurvey/dnrcalendar/cm.asp?lstMonth=May

Questions about State Parks Week 2005 or volunteer opportunities in state parks should be directed to Roberta Dorsch at (301) 743-5928 or rdorsch@dnr.state.md.us.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 18,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov

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