|Founded||November 4, 1872|
|Named for||John Work Garrett|
|Largest town||Mountain Lake Park|
|• Total||656 sq mi (1,700 km2)|
|• Land||647 sq mi (1,680 km2)|
|• Water||8.6 sq mi (22 km2) 1.3%|
|• Density||44/sq mi (17/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Garrett County (//) is the westernmost county of the U.S. state of Maryland completely within the Appalachian Mountains. As of the 2020 census, the population was 28,806, making it the third-least populous county in Maryland. Its county seat is Oakland. The county was named for John Work Garrett (1820–1884), president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Created from Allegany County, Maryland in 1872, it was the last Maryland county to be formed.
Garrett County is bordered by four West Virginia counties and to the north the Maryland–Pennsylvania boundary known as the Mason–Dixon line. The eastern border with Allegany County was defined by the Bauer Report, submitted to Governor Lloyd Lowndes, Jr. on November 9, 1898. The Potomac River and State of West Virginia lie to the south and west.
Garrett County lies in the Allegheny Mountains, which here form the western flank of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Hoye-Crest, a summit along Backbone Mountain, is the highest point in Maryland at an elevation of 3,360 feet (1,020 m).
The Eastern Continental Divide runs along portions of Backbone Mountain. The western part of the county, drained by the Youghiogheny River, is the only part of Maryland within the Mississippi River drainage basin. All other parts of the county are in the Chesapeake Bay basin.
The National Register of Historic Places listings in Garrett County, Maryland has 20 National Register of Historic Places properties and districts, including Casselman Bridge, National Road a National Historic Landmark. Garrett County is part of Maryland's 6th congressional district. The extreme south of the county lies within the United States National Radio Quiet Zone.
In the early 20th century, the railroad and tourism started to decline. Coal mining and timber production continued at a much slower pace. Today, tourism has made a dramatic rebound in the county with logging and farming making up the greatest part of the economic base. Due to a cool climate and lack of any large city, Garrett County has remained a sparsely populated rural area.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 656 square miles (1,700 km2), of which 647 square miles (1,680 km2) is land and 8.6 square miles (22 km2) (1.3%) is water. It is the second-largest county in Maryland by land area.
Garrett County is Maryland's westernmost, bordering Pennsylvania to the north via the Mason–Dixon line, West Virginia to the south and west (with the Potomac River forming its southern boundary), and Allegany County, Maryland to the east. The county's northwesternmost point is approximately 60 miles (97 km) southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and its southeasternmost point is approximately 160 miles (260 km) northwest of Baltimore, Maryland.
Garrett County is located entirely within the highland zone of the Appalachian Mountains known variously as the Allegheny Mountains, the Allegheny Plateau, and the Appalachian Plateau. The county's highest elevations are located along four flat-topped ridges and range to a height of 3,360 feet (1,020 m) at Hoye-Crest along Backbone Mountain, the highest point in the state of Maryland. As is typical in the Allegheny region, broad flats generally lie below the ridge crests at elevations of approximately 500 feet (150 m). River valleys are generally narrow and deep, with ravines typically 1,000 to 1,800 feet (550 m) below surrounding peaks.
The county contains over 76,000 acres (310 km2) of parks, lakes, and publicly accessible forestland. It is drained by two river systems, the Potomac and the Youghiogheny. The Savage River, a tributary of the Potomac, drains about a third of the county. The Casselman River, a tributary of the Youghiogheny, flows north from the county's central section into Pennsylvania. The Youghiogheny itself drains the westernmost area of the county and flows north into Pennsylvania, where it empties into the Monongahela River at McKeesport, just south of Pittsburgh.
The Glades' 601 acres (2.43 km2) is of great scientific interest because it is an ombrotrophic system (fed solely by rainwater) with peat layers up to 9 feet (2.7 m) thick, and is one of the oldest examples of mountain peatland in the Appalachians.
On the western edge of the Savage River State Forest along Maryland Route 495 lies Bittinger, Maryland, which is named after Henry Bittinger, who first settled in the area and who was joined by other German settlers moving in and taking up the fertile farmland. On the eastern edge of Bittinger is one of the largest glades area of Garrett County. Geographically, this is an area that seems to have been affected by the last great ice sheet of North America. Two miles southeast of Bittinger, there is a large deposit of peat moss.
In the Casselman River valley, 1-mile (1.6 km) south of Grantsville, Maryland and beside Maryland Route 495, one can see remains of geological evidence about the last great ice sheet over North America. A series of low mounds can be seen in the fields on the west side of Maryland Route 495 that are "loess" (wind-blown) material. Apparently, these are the only ones still visible in the northern part of Garrett County.
The mounds were formed when a glacier lake existed in the Casselman valley, and the ice around the edges of the frozen lake melted. Wind blew fine grains of earth into the water around the edges where it sank to the bottom, and the mounds were the result of the deposit of this wind-blown material.
See these articles for information on the forests, rivers, and caves of Garrett County:
For a more comprehensive list, see List of Maryland state parks.
Garrett County contains over 76,000 acres (310 km2) of parks, lakes, and publicly accessible forestland. Popular activities in the county include camping, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, alpine and cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, hunting, ice fishing, fly fishing, whitewater canoeing, kayaking, rafting, boating, swimming, sailing, horseback riding, and water skiing.
There are seven state parks in Garrett County. All offer picnic and fishing areas; all but Casselman River State Park have hiking paths. Mountain bike paths, swimming areas, and boat launches and rentals are available at Deep Creek, Herrington Manor, and New Germany state parks. Rental cabins are available at Herrington Manor and New Germany state parks. Big Run, Deep Creek, Herrington Manor, and New Germany state parks all offer canoeing, while campsites may be found at Big Run, Deep Creek, New Germany, and Swallow Falls state parks.
Garrett County owns four park sites and fifteen recreation facilities. The parks are maintained in cooperation with local associations and civic groups. The recreation areas are attached to public schools and colleges and maintained by the Garrett County Board of Education.
The municipal parks of Garrett County provide sport facilities, hiking, bike and walk paths, playgrounds, picnic areas, boat ramps, and fishing.
The Ruth Enlow Library was founded in 1915 as the Oakland Free Public Library. Since then, an additional four branches have been added to the library system in Accident, Friendsville, Grantsville, and Kitzmiller. The present director of the library is Thomas Vose.
The Garrett County Historical Society and Museums include a Historical Museum, a Transportation Museum, the Grantsville Museum and the Leo Beachley Photographic Archives.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
1990-2000 2010 2020
|Race / Ethnicity||Pop 2010||Pop 2020||% 2010||% 2020|
|White alone (NH)||29,278||27,402||97.28%||95.13%|
|Black or African American alone (NH)||299||239||0.99%||0.83%|
|Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH)||37||33||0.12%||0.11%|
|Asian alone (NH)||76||82||0.25%||0.28%|
|Pacific Islander alone (NH)||0||2||0.00%||0.01%|
|Some Other Race alone (NH)||2||54||0.01%||0.19%|
|Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH)||185||673||0.61%||2.34%|
|Hispanic or Latino (any race)||220||321||0.73%||1.11%|
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 30,097 people, 12,057 households, and 8,437 families residing in the county. The population density was 46.5 inhabitants per square mile (18.0/km2). There were 18,854 housing units at an average density of 29.1 per square mile (11.2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 97.8% white, 1.0% black or African American, 0.3% Asian, 0.1% American Indian, 0.1% from other races, and 0.7% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 0.7% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 35.4% were German, 13.6% identified as American, 11.3% were Irish, and 11.3% were English.
Of the 12,057 households, 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.4% were married couples living together, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 30.0% were non-families, and 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.92. The median age was 42.7 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $45,760 and the median income for a family was $56,545. Males had a median income of $40,035 versus $27,325 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,888. About 8.9% of families and 12.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.2% of those under age 18 and 12.1% of those aged 65 or over.
As of the census of 2000, there were 29,846 people, 11,476 households, and 8,354 families residing in the county. The population density was 18/km2 (46/sq mi). There were 16,761 housing units at an average density of 10/km2 (26/sq mi). The racial makeup of the county was 98.83% White, 0.43% Black or African American, 0.07% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.09% from other races, and 0.37% from two or more races. 0.44% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 36.1% were of German, 22.9% identified as American, 9.6% English and 8.8% Irish ancestry.
There were 11,476 households, out of which 32.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.70% were married couples living together, 8.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.20% were non-families. 23.50% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.00.
In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.10% under the age of 18, 7.80% from 18 to 24, 27.60% from 25 to 44, 24.60% from 45 to 64, and 14.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.80 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $32,238, and the median income for a family was $37,811. Males had a median income of $29,469 versus $20,673 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,219. 13.30% of the population and 9.80% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 16.60% are under the age of 18 and 13.90% are 65 or older.
Garrett County is home to an Amish community in the Oakland area that consists of a church district of about 70 homes. The Amish community dates back to 1850 and became associated with the New Order Amish, with electricity permitted inside of homes.
The county is governed by an elected three-member Board of County Commissioners, whose members serve four-year terms and must live in the district they represent. The Board is the traditional form of county government in Maryland. It may exercise only those powers conferred by the General Assembly of Maryland, and even those powers are narrowly construed.
Garrett County is administered under a line organizational method, with the County Administrator responsible for the general administration of County Government. The administration of the county is centralized with the County Administrator responsible for overseeing the financial planning, annual budget process, personnel management, and direction and management of operations within the organization.
On December 15, 1977, the seal of Garrett County went into effect by virtue of Resolution #7. The seal is elliptical, with the name "Garrett County" inscribed above the upper fourth of the ellipse, and "Maryland 1872" inscribed below the lower fourth of the ellipse. The date "1872" depicts the year of the formation of Garrett County. The seal illustrates a large snowflake to depict winter; water to represent sailing; and oaks and conifer to represent the county's mountains. The colors are peacock blue for the sky and water. The blue and white background is divided by kelly green.
The official flag for Garrett County is elliptical. The flag illustrates a large snowflake to depict winter; water to represent sailing; and oaks and conifer to represent the county's mountains. The colors are peacock blue for the sky and water. The blue and white background is divided by kelly green.
Although since the Civil War Maryland has been a Democratic-leaning state, Garrett County, owing to its history of German settlement from north of the Mason–Dixon line, plus strong pre-war Unionism resulting from virtual absence of slaves, has always been strongly Republican. Since it was created in 1872, Garrett is one of forty counties across the nation (chiefly Unionist strongholds in antebellum slave states) to have never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate. Compared with neighbouring and closely allied Grant County, West Virginia, Garrett has not shown quite the same levels of Republican support – Lyndon Johnson did get within 109 votes of Barry Goldwater in 1964 – but as with Grant County, the only occasion Garrett County has not been carried by the official Republican nominee occurred in 1912 when a major split in the Republican Party allowed "Bull Moose Party" nominee and former President Theodore Roosevelt to claim the county. Since 1996, no Democratic presidential nominee has won even 30% of the county's vote, and not since 2010 has Garrett County voted Democratic in any statewide election.
Garrett County is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by the 6th congressional district, which includes part of northwestern metro DC. The district is currently represented by Democrat David Trone.
|Voter Registration and Party Enrollment of Garrett County|
|Independents, unaffiliated, and other||3,161||15.31%|
The county is policed by the Garrett County Sheriff's Office and the Maryland State Police.
The state parks are policed by the Department of Natural Resources Police.
The county established an Office of the Fire Marshal in 2022, working in collaboration with the Maryland State Office established in 1894.
See also: Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development
Garrett County produces natural gas, the only county in the state to do so. Much of the economic activity in the area centers around tourism. In the winter, the Wisp ski resort in Oakland and New Germany State Park's cross-country skiing trail are frequent destinations, and Deep Creek Lake sees much activity in the summer. The state parks in the county are frequented year-round. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, tourism boomed as many people from Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh wanted to get away from the city. The average sale price for a home in the county jumped $250,000 from July 2020 to July 2021. As of July 2021, the average price for a home in the county ($642,805) is the second-most expensive in Maryland, behind only Montgomery County.
For a more comprehensive list, see List of Maryland state highways.
Garrett County Airport (2G4) is a general aviation airport surrounded by the mountains of Western Maryland. The airport enhances the region's tourist industry and provides emergency air service evacuation and landing facilities for general aviation.
Garrett County is part of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania television market. KDKA-TV and WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and WJAC-TV in Johnstown, Pennsylvania serves Oakland, the county seat. Oakland also has an educational television station (by way of PBS member station WGPT, part of state-wide Maryland Public Television; it also serves Pittsburgh-based member station WQED).
It has a weekly newspaper, the Garrett County Republican, which was purchased by NCWV Media in 2017.
Annual events include the Autumn Glory Festival, the Scottish Highland Festival, and the Garrett County Agricultural Fair.
The United States Census Bureau recognizes seven census-designated places (CDPs) in Garrett County.
The following communities are classified as populated places or locales by the Geographic Names Information System.
Garrett College is a public community college in McHenry, Maryland. The college had three outreach centers in Accident, Grantsville, and Oakland.
Garrett County Public Schools operates public schools. There are two public high schools in the county, Southern Garrett High School and Northern Garrett High School, two public middle schools, Southern Garrett Middle School and Northern Garrett Middle School, and seven public elementary schools, Accident Elementary School, Broad Ford Elementary School, Crellin Elementary School, Friendsville Elementary School, Grantsville Elementary School, Route 40 Elementary School, and Yough Glades Elementary School. There is also one K-8 public school in the county, which is Swan Meadow School.
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