Header Art - Maryland's Conservation History

Preserving Maryland's Conservation Agency History

Offutt Johnson’s Vision BoardChuck Stutzman, artist with his painting

By Francis Champ Zumbrun

It was a hot, humid summer day in LaVale, Maryland that mid July 2013 when I picked up the phone ringing in my kitchen. “Hello,” I answered. From the other end of the line a jolly greeting came my way: “What a joy it is to hear your voice!” It was my old friend, Offutt Johnson.

Offutt was calling from Oakland, Maryland to share with me some of his thoughts about the Casselman River Bridge bicentennial celebration coming up on the weekend of September 20-22, 2013 at Grantsville, Maryland. At the time, Offutt was serving as a volunteer on the bicentennial planning committee, a group of which I also was a member.

Offutt asked me, “Hey, can you meet me at Wendy's Restaurant in Oakland? I have something I want to show you.” Click here to read more.

Significant Garrett County State Forest and State Parks Monuments

The following are the first two of an occasional series about Significant Garrett County State Forest and State Park Monuments and Landmarks In Maryland.

Steps to old Garrett County Courthouse, courtesy of the Garrett County Historical Society, photo courtesy of Francis Champ ZumbrunThe First Garrett County Court House in Oakland, Maryland

On or about January 30, 1907, Fred W. Besley walked up these stairs to the first Garrett County Court House in Oakland to file a deed for 1,917 acres of land which became Maryland’s first State Forest Reserve.

This valuable acreage was a handsome gift to the people of Maryland, and had been generously donated by brothers John and Robert Garrett. In 1906 the land was offered by the Garrett’s as the first State Forest providing Maryland would start a forestry and state parks program. In 1906 the State Forests and Parks program was enacted and the acreage passed from the Garrett Brothers to the State with the signing of the deed that State Forester Besley was about to file in the Court House. Click here to read more.

Washington Elm Tree“Washington Elm” Tree or “Cambridge Elm” at Garrett County Memorial Hospital in Oakland, Maryland

This tree was a sapling when planted in Oakland as part of the celebration of the 200th birthday of George Washington (1732-1932) but there is much “more to this tree’s story as you will see below. Click here to read more.





Cannon, Relic of the 19th century Oyster Wars, on Display in Annapolis at the Casper R. Taylor Jr. House Office Building in Annapolis now through spring 2014.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is exhibiting its historic cannon at the Casper R. Taylor Jr. House Office Building in Annapolis now through spring 2014.

A relic of the Oyster Police of the 1800s, the cannon was used to protect the Chesapeake Bay’s bounty during the “oyster wars” of the 19th century. The Maryland Natural Resources Police, which observed its 145th anniversary last March, is a descendant of both the State Oyster Police and the Office of the State Game Warden, created in 1896. Click here to read more...

at the Casper R. Taylor Jr. House Office Building in Annapolis now through spring 2014.

Casselman River Bicentennial Celebration
September 20-22, 2013

Castleman River Bridge, photo by Leo BeachyThe 200-year bicentennial celebration of the Casselman River Bridge occurred on the weekend of September 20-22, 2013. Department of Natural Resource (DNR) officials placed an information kiosk at entrance of the Casselman River Bridge State Park in time for the weekend event. The exhibit explains in a few words the colorful history of the bridge:

"Spanning the Casselman River and supporting 200 years of hooves, boots, sleigh runners, and wheels of every type and description, the Casselman River Bridge begins its third century on the National Road east of Grantsville, Maryland. It is one of the oldest surviving bridges in the nation."

By Francis Champ Zumbrun

Read more....

Renovated Washington State Park Museum

South Mountain Museum Dedication

On May 11, 2013 Washington Monument State Park unveiled its newly renovated museum at a grand opening celebration, featuring fun, family-friendly tours, activities and presentations.

“It has been more than exciting to see these old historic structures renovated and transformed into a beautiful museum,” said Park Manager Dan Spedden. “Its exhibits will tell stories of the region’s rich history, illustrating events that shaped not only our State but our entire nation.”

The museum consists of three historic buildings ─ the main building is at Washington Monument State Park and the others are at nearby Gathland State Park.

The museum interprets events of the nation’s first monument to honor George Washington, the Civil War Battle of South Mountain and the literary career of noted author and war correspondent George Alfred Townsend.

DNR's Oyster Wars Cannon and Crew at South Mountain Museum Dedication
Civil War Cannon and Crew
Exhibited at South Mountain Museum Dedication

Click here for photos of the event.

Cover of 100 years of fighting forest fires in MarylandThe Garrett County Historical Society Salutes 100 Years of Fighting Forest Fires in Maryland, by William Offutt Johnson

Please Note: Due to the large file size of this original document, it is presented here in 7 consecutive parts.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7




New Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Exhibit at Gambrill State Park

A new exhibit, "The CCC at Gambrill State Park: Their Legacy Lives On." is now on display at Gambrill State Park in the vicinity of the CCC Statue, which was dedicated on November 5, 2011.


Click on images below for larger versions of the Exhibits.CCC Exhibit at Gambrill State Park: Their Legacy Lives On
Now on Display at Gambrill State Park


Two additional exhibits (see below) are planned,
with each telling the story of one aspect of the CCC in Maryland.

CCC Exhibit at Gambrill State Park: Roosevelt's Tree Army

CCC Exhibit at Gambrill State Park: Moving Forests and Parks Ahead

Two volunteer members of the committee, Offutt Johnson (L) and Kirk Rodgers with the historic oyster cannon.

The foundation that supports the Maryland Conservation History Committee, made up of volunteers and DNR employees, was recently designated as a 501 3c non-profit. The foundation will fund projects that preserve and promote DNR’s history and heritage.

DNR Dedicates Fred W. Besley Demonstration Forest in Dorchester County, April 20, 2012

Fred Eskew Recreation Area Dedication: Rosaryville State Park, April 22, 2012

Conserving Memory: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Western Maryland,
By Colleen Esther Walter
Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts 2011

Maryland Names Forest In Honor Of Fred W. Besley
Besley was Maryland’s first State Forester. 
Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources Press Release. February 22, 2012


The Committee for Maryland Conservation History was originally formed in 2004 to prepare for the Maryland Forestry & Parks Centennial. Following the success of the Centennial activities, the Committee was expanded to include additional DNR units in its membership.


To preserve, promote and interpret the legacy of natural resource conservation in Maryland for the public’s benefit.

Strategies for achieving the mission include the following:

  • The Project identifies, collects and conserves artifacts, documents, photographs and other forms of historical information.
  • It plans and produces informative media in the forms of displays, literature, and activities that illuminate the subject.
  • It builds corporate identity within the Department of Natural Resources by promoting agency heritage within the Department.
  • It seeks particularly to reconnect the public, especially children, to the outdoors through educational and recreational activities that inspire a sense of place within a natural resources framework.
  • It accomplishes these last two strategies by demonstrating the goals and achievements of Maryland’s conservation agencies dating back at least to the mid-19th century, and shows the relevance of past efforts to the present-day need for natural resource conservation.
  • Click Here to Learn More About our Committee