Activities, Attractions, Dining & Shopping
The town of Oakland, the County seat, is home to a large variety of shopping, dining, lodging and activity options in Garrett County. Oakland, one of Maryland's first designated Mainstreets, offers a wide variety of shops and dining options within walking distance. All day free parking is available at Oakland Town Parking lot at 201 Town Park Lane or two-hour free parking is available along the street.
Downtown Oakland is the home of the Garrett County Historical Society Museum which houses a treasure trove of exhibits related to the founding and history of Garrett County, the Garrett County Transportation Museum which showcases historic vehicles, fire trucks, boats, carriages, sleighs and snowmobiles and the Oakland B&O Museum & Train Station, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, features a 1920 Baldwin steam locomotive. The museum is open seasonal hours and guided tours are by appointment, 301.334.3204.
Oakland hosts the Mountain Fresh Farmers Markets Wednesdays & Saturdays from 10 am - 1 pm at the Mountain Fresh Pavilion downtown from Memorial Day thru mid-October with varying dates the rest of the year. Oakland is also one of the County's Arts & Entertainment Districts and serves as the home base for the Garrett County Arts Council and their Gallery Shop where visitors can purchase locally produced artwork.
The town of Oakland hosts a variety of events annually including the Oakland Winter Fest, Kick Off to Summer, Little Yough Family Flicks, Little Yough Summer Music Festival, July 3rd Fireworks at Broadford Park, A Great Small Town Christmas and Autumn Glory Festival events including the Grand Feature Parade, Autumn Glory Carnival, and the official Maryland State Banjo, Mandolin & Fiddle Championships.
Broadford Recreational Park, which opens Memorial Day weekend and closes Labor Day weekend, is a family oriented park owned by the Town of Oakland. Broadford offers a lake, picnic and beach areas, volleyball, basketball, boat launch, boat and pavilion rentals. Nominal fee to enter. Step back in time and learn about local history at the Fort Alice trails or head to the Kindness Demonstration Forest Trail, the Oakland Heritage Trail, the 88 Bridge walking/biking trail or the Swallow Falls Down River Fishing Trail. Oakland also has a fenced-in, off-leash dog park.
Oakland's Alpaca Acres allows visitors to schedule a visit to meet and greet the alpacas, shop their store, attend one of the family-friendly events or reserve a campfire. Backbone Hemp welcomes visitors on Fridays and sells their products at their store, online and at Oakland's Mountain Fresh Farmers Markets. Circle R Ranch offers horse-drawn sleigh rides in the winter along with horseback riding the rest of the year. Oakland Golf Club offers 18 holes of championship golf for all skill levels, a practice putting green and driving range, and food and beverage offerings. The Alley is Garrett County's only bowling alley which also offers dining, arcade, pool & shuffleboard. Rainy day got you down? Head to Garrett County's only movie theater, Garrett 8 Cinemas.
Oakland is also home to Swallow Falls State Park and Herrington Manor State Park. Swallow Falls features the state's tallest free-falling waterfall, the 53 foot Muddy Creek Falls, along with several smaller waterfalls, Tolliver Falls and upper and lower Swallow Falls, miles of trails and 65 wooded campsites, 3 camper cabins and 3 youth group sites. There is also a 5.5 mile trail linking Swallow Falls State Park to Herrington Manor State Park. Herrington Manor offers the 53-acre Herrington Lake along with a beach, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, biking, picnicking, hiking, tennis, basketball, volleyball and 20 furnished log cabins for rental use year round and miles of trails including cross country skiing and snowshoeing, as conditions permit. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing rentals are available at the park. Mt. Nebo Wildlife Management Area, a 1,854 acre tract which protects two red spruce bogs, one of the most unique wetlands in Maryland, offers hunting during open seasons and shooting hours. Non-hunting visitors are also welcome to hike Mt. Nebo's trails which are maintained but not actively marked - please just be aware of open hunting seasons and visit accordingly.
Garrett County, Maryland was formed from the western triangular section of Allegany County in 1872, the last of Maryland’s counties to be created. The County was named after the president of the B&O Railroad at the time, John Work Garrett, since the railroad was responsible for Garrett County’s economic growth during the later half of the 19th century.
According to local historian Al Feldstein, “It was a constitutional requirement however, that the final ratification of the county’s creation be left up to the qualified voters of the territory. The question concerning the creation of a new county, as well as the ‘people’s choice’ for county seat, were both voted on in the November 4, 1872 general election. Voters overwhelmingly approved creation of the new county by a vote of 1,297 to 405. The popular choice of the electorate for the county seat was Oakland, which won out over rivals Grantsville and McHenry’s Glades, the former by only 63 votes.”
The B&O railroad would greatly impact the area, bringing population growth as the Irish, Scotch, and Welsh came to mine the coal and cut the timber. The towns of Oakland, Bloomington and Swanton would spring up during this time as commercial, mining, and timber centers, dependant on the railroad for receiving and shipping products to market. The railroads also were resposible for building large summer resorts in the beautiful mountain areas in Garrett County.
Deriving its name from the nearby area called “Youghiogheny Glades,” the Glades Hotel was built in the mid 1850’s by Perry Lyle directly across the tracks from the 1851 Oakland railroad station. John Dailey, who gradually extended it parallel to the tracks tripling its original length, purchased it in 1859. Among guests at the hotel were a number of railroad officials and, before the Civil War, U.S. Senator Jefferson Davis. For a number of years railroad passenger trains did not have dining cars, and the Glades Hotel was one of the many regular stops along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad where passengers could get a quick meal in the hotel’s dining room.
During a raid by Confederate troops on the town of Oakland on Sunday, April 26, 1863, the Glades Hotel was the only building in town subject to cannon fire. The troops had information that an injured Union officer was recuperating in the hotel so they fired a cannon shot down the rail line toward the hotel from the Second Street crossing. John Dailey was able to convince the Confederate troops, after allowing a thorough search of the building, that a Union officer was not in the building, thus sparing the hotel.
After Garrett County was established in 1872, visiting Circuit Court judges used the old, and later the new, Glades Hotel as a place to hold court until a regular courthouse was built in 1877. The original Glades Hotel burned to the ground in 1874, but in the same year a new version was built east of the old location in the area now occupied by the Town of Oakland parking lot. Mr. John Dailey continued to manage the new Glades Hotel until his death in 1881. John Brant, a long time employee, then assumed management until it finally closed in the early 1900’s. The building was torn down for the lumber in 1908.