Boonsboro, Maryland “Discover Our History, Savor the Romance”
Town of Boonsboro Maryland
Boonsboro a town located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western Maryland and Washington County. The town borders the foot of South Mountain and neighboring Frederick County and very close to the famous Civil War Battlefield, Antietam National Battlefield. The town was discovered and named after Daniel Boon’s cousins, George and William Boone. Originally the town was called Margaretsville after William’s wife, but was later changed to Boonsborough; then finally to Boonsboro. The town forms a gateway to the colonial and civil war heritage sites including the National Road, Washington Monument State Park, South Mountain and Antietam National Battlefield. In addition the C&O Canal Towpath and the Harpers Ferry Historical Park are a few miles away. Boonsboro is also known by many hikers and is close to the Appalachian Trail.
Boonsboro offers visitors an array of local attractions: a town museum featuring historical artifacts, a restored 1902 trolley station, a beautiful park and the Inn Boonsboro – a historic bed-and-breakfast located on the square owned by New York Times Bestselling author Nora Roberts.
History of Boonsboro Maryland
In 1803, 11 years after the town was established, there were only 24 houses. Boonsboro’s growth and prosperity increased in part by the construction of the Bank Road, later know as the National Road, a turnpike connecting Baltimore to the west. In 1823, a new process called “macadam” was used to finish an unpaved section of the turnpike from Boonsboro to Hagerstown. This was the first time the road building process was used in the United States.
In 1827, the citizens of Boonsboro erected the first monument to honor President George Washington at the top of South Mountain. The rugged stone monument stands 34 feet in height, and is located on part of the Appalachian Trail. By 1830, the population of Boonsboro had grown to 707.
Incorporated in 1831, the citizens of Boonsboro held the Town’s first election. On September 14, 1862, the Battle of South Mountain began. This was the first battle of the Civil War fought on northern soil. During the Civil War, Boonsboro’s churches and public buildings were used as makeshift hospitals for wounded soldiers. Soldiers were transported to Boonsboro throughout two of the bloodiest battles at South Mountain and Antietam. In the late 19th century, Boonsboro was chosen as the setting for a famous Civil War play named “Heart of Maryland,” which later became a successful silent motion picture.
In the 20th century, agriculture products and fruit were the principal source of income for the rural area around Boonsboro. The town of Boonsboro became well known for it’s delicious “Hearts of Gold” cantaloupes.
In 1939, the citizens of Boonsboro created Shafer Memorial Park as the focal point of the town. Today the park hosts major public events such as Boonesborough Days, The Great Boonsboro Rescue Company Carnival, and The Founder’s Day Celebration. The Founder’s Day Celebration coincides with the National Pike Festival, which features a 20-mile wagon train journey from Clear Spring to Boonsboro along the original route of the National Pike.
As the town continues to grow in size, population and diversity, the citizens of Boonsboro have not lost sight of their rural beginnings. The Town of Boonsboro continues to manage its growth with care and foresight, while cherishing it’s simple beginnings and deep rooted heritage.
Washington Monument State Park at South Mountain
Washington Monument State Park located atop of South Mountain, is named for the first completed monument dedicated to the memory of George Washington. The Washington Monument is a rugged stone tower that was initially erected by the citizens of Boonsboro, Maryland in 1827.
According a period newspaper account, on July 4, 1827 at 7 a.m., most of Boonsboro’s 500 inhabitants assembled at the public square. Behind the Stars and Stripes and stepping spiritedly to the music of a fife and drum corps, they marched two miles up the mountain to the monument site. The citizens worked until noon and then held a dedication ceremony and lunch. They resumed work and by 4 p.m. the monument stood fifteen feet high on a 54-foot circular base. The day ended with the reading of the Declaration of Independence and a three round salute fired by three Revolutionary War veterans. The workers returned that September to finish. Upon its completion, the monument stood 30 feet high.
The monument was rebuilt at least twice during its history – mostly recently by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936. The monument is currently maintained by the Maryland Park Service.
Washington Monument State Park
6620 Zittlestown Road, Middletown MD 21769
South Mountain & Antietam National Battlefield
South Mountain State Battlefield seeks to preserve and interpret the first major Civil War battle to take place in Maryland. Fought on September 14, 1862, the Battle of South Mountain was a critical turning point in the American Civil War. The Union victories at South Mountain and Antietam (fought three days later) led President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
The state battlefield, located along the gaps of South Mountain, includes valuable farm and forestland, and is home to diverse wildlife. Only here does the Appalachian National Scenic Trail intersect a major Civil War battlefield.
Riding on a string of victories, General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia invaded Maryland on September 4, 1862. Lee hoped to take the Civil War into the Union, where a victory might persuade neutral Great Britain and France to side with the South, and convince war-weary Northerners to sue for peace. In short, a victory in the North might have secured Southern independence.
The Confederate invasion went well at first. Lee’s army occupied Frederick, Maryland, then moved into Washington County towards Hagerstown. Union General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, however, left its fortifications around Washington, D.C. and pursued Lee’s army faster than expected. Then on September 13th a copy of Lee’s battle plans fell into Union hands. McClellan now knew that Lee had divided his army, sending part of it to capture Harpers Ferry, leaving only a few regiments to guard the South Mountain Gaps. This set the stage for the campaign’s turning point: the Battle of South Mountain.
Fought on September 14th, the Battle of South Mountain took place on three gaps. The northern gaps (Turner’s and Fox’s) are clustered around the National Pike (present-day Alternate U.S. 40). Crampton’s Gap is six miles to the south at present-day Gathland State Park. Advancing from the east, the Union troops sought to cross South Mountain, and destroy Lee’s dispersed army. Preventing this were a few Southern regiments on the mountain gaps. The battle for the northern gaps involved two waves of Union attacks. The first wave hit Fox’s Gap at 9 am, while the second wave hit both gaps simultaneously in the early afternoon. The Union attacked Crampton’s Gap in the late afternoon.
The battle forced Lee to abandon his invasion plans and go on the defensive. However, the Union’s failure to muster a full-scale attack in the morning allowed the Confederates to bring up reinforcements. The defenders bought time for Lee to reassemble his dispersed army, setting the stage for the Battle of Antietam, fought three days later.
The Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest one-day battle in American History, forced Lee to retreat back to Virginia. It also provided President Abraham Lincoln with the opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which ultimately led to the abolishment of slavery in the United States.
Total casualties for the Battle of South Mountain were about 6,100 killed, wounded, and missing. For many of these men the South Mountain is their last battlefield. The battlefield serves as a shrine to the memory of those who fought and died here in 1862. Assistance is needed to prevent encroaching development from forever snuffing out this unique landscape.
Antietam National Battlefield
One of America’s best-preserved battlefields, Antietam was the site of the bloodiest one-day battle in United State’s history. On September 17, 1862, more than 23,000 men were killed, wounded, captured or missing in General Robert E.Lee’s first invasion of the North. The eight and one-half mile driving tour highlights historic Dunker Church, Bloody Lane, Burnside Bridge, more than 350 monuments, tablets and markers, and 41 cannons. Also located on the grounds is the National Cemetery, the final resting place for 4776 Union soldiers (1,836 unknown) who lost their lives at South Mountain, Antietam, Monocacy and other battles in the area.
Crystal Grottoes Caverns
Greenbrier State Park
Greenbrier is a multi-use park providing many kinds of recreation. The Appalachian Trail passes through the park. The 42-acre man-made lake and beach draw many visitors who enjoy swimming, canoeing, hiking, picnicking, fishing and hunting. Located on US40, this state park offers many recreational opportunities. Picnic tables, grills, playgrounds and four lakefront rental gazebos are available in the day use area. The Park offers campsites conveniently located near bathhouses with hot showers. Reservations may be made by calling 1-888-432-2267. Park opens daily, 8 AM to sunset.
Most of the Washington Monument’s hiking trail is part of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Visitors are welcome to hike the A.T from Maine to Georgia or for just a few miles. Those planning an overnight backpack outing can park at Washington Monument State Park for a few days. The Appalachian Trail is a footpath only. Overnight parking for the Appalachian Trail is permitted in the lower parking lot near the youth group camping area. Please register your car in the hikers’ log near the bulletin board. Please take any valuables with you.
Only here does the Appalachian National Scenic Trail intersect a major Civil War battlefield.
River & Trails Outfitters
River & Trail offers guided whitewater rafting, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, climbing, cycling and hiking trips in the historic Harpers Ferry area. River trips and lessons take place in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia on the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and Antietam Creek.
Elk Mountain Trails
Come ride the trails of historic Harper’s Ferry. Elk Mountain Trails takes you on horseback through the Blue Ridge Mountains or the banks of the Potomac River. You’ll ride the C&O Canal past the antiquated locks and lock houses of yesteryear, through a wilderness abundant with deer, birds and wildlife. Take home a memory of our magical past with all its beauty and excitement.
Shepherdstown Pedal & Paddle
Shepherdstown Pedal & Paddle is a full service bicycle, canoe and kayak shop located in beautiful Shepherdstown, West Virginia. They offer rentals of bicycles for riding on the C&O Canal bike path and Antietam Battlefield. Their rental fleet includes mountain bikes, kids bikes, comfort bikes, and road bikes. They also rent canoes, kayaks and float tubes for paddling a peaceful section of the Potomac River.