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November 16, 2023

Blast from the past: Fragment of Revolution-era cannon discovered near iron furnace site

Article Author: Heidi Schlag (This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail October 30, 2023) A cannon fragment dating from the Revolutionary War was recently discovered hiding in plain sight not far from where it was originally forged nearly 250 years ago. It was found by Andy Stout, a trained archeologist who began his new position as the executive director of the Washington County Historical Society several months ago. Discovered on a junk pile off Mt. Aetna Road in Hagerstown, the cannon was a cast-off that was never completed by the Mt. Aetna Furnace that operated in the area from the 1760s to 1830s. “This cannon never saw any battle. It didn’t survive the forging process, which is why it was discarded as scrap,” Stout explained. “There must have been a flaw in the cannon when it was forged, and it wasn’t finished, or it didn’t come out of the forging process appropriately,” he said. “We have about three-quarters of it. The end of it — the muzzle — is missing.” Owned in the 1760s by Barnabus Hughes and his sons, Samuel and Daniel, Mt. Aetna Furnace was one of four furnaces built by that family in Washington County, and Franklin […]
June 29, 2021

Did you see that Fairchild sports car race in ’55? We want to hear from you!

Back in October, we told you about the Fairchild National Sports Car Races that took place at the airport in 1955. If you weren’t around in ’55 — or you were, and you’d like to relive those glory days — we’re going to give you the chance this fall. Make plans now to join the Washington County Historical Society and Hagerstown Aviation Museum on Oct. 23 for a special event that will commemorate the Fairchild National Sports Car Races. In addition to a vintage car show featuring several vehicles that participated in the races, the event will include lectures, guided tours of the Fairchild Aircraft flight test hangars and factory building, and a commemorative start-stop on the historic runway. To quickly recap the event we’re celebrating, the Fairchild National was the 12th race in the 1955 SCCA National Sports Car Championship season, taking place at what was then the Hagerstown Municipal Airport on Oct. 16, 1955. It was the first event of its kind to take place in Hagerstown, and was made possible by members of the Fairchild Aircraft Employee Recreation Association. Seven individual races were run on a makeshift, 2.4 mile closed circuit track built on the airport runway. Although it wasn’t […]
June 1, 2021

Hagerstown, a History

Established in 1762 by Jonathan Hager, Hagerstown has a far more interesting history than you might realize. Starting with the early settlement period, this article will explore Hagerstown’s development as a crossroads of history and commerce. Read on to learn more. The land on which Hagerstown currently stands was originally settled by various East Coast Native American tribes, including the Susquehannock, Piscataway, Catawba, and Lenni Lenape. The first known non-Native American visitors to the Hagerstown area included land surveyors and fur traders.  By 1739, the area’s cheap, fertile land and plentiful natural resources had attracted farmers and craftsmen like the German-born Jonathan Hager, who patented a tract of land in the vicinity of present-day Hagerstown City Park called “Hager’s Fancy” from Charles Calvert, the 5th Lord Baltimore. It was here that Hager built a house that would double as a fort and trading post.  In 1762, Jonathan Hager, by now a leading citizen and French and Indian War veteran, laid out and established Elizabethtowne, named for his beloved wife, Anna Elizabeth Kirschner Hager. Elizabethtowne would be formally renamed Hagerstown in 1814.  By the mid-to-late 1760s, Jonathan Hager had acquired several thousand acres of land in the city, which he proceeded […]
April 15, 2021

Washington County Baseball

In honor of Baseball Opening Day 2021, this article will focus on Washington County’s rich baseball history through the lens of Hagerstown.  The alluring aroma of concession stand popcorn. The taste of a perfectly cooked ballpark hot dog. The indescribable, yet intimately familiar sound of bat hitting ball. There is some dispute as to when, where and how the game of baseball began. One popular myth credits Civil War hero Abner Doubleday with its invention in the summer of 1839. Meanwhile, scholars attest that as early as the mid-18th century, some early variations of the game were being played in colonial Philadelphia and Massachusetts, having developed from early British folk games.  Modern baseball can be traced all the way back to September 1845, when Alexander Joy Cartwright, a volunteer firefighter and bank clerk created a new set of rules that formed the contemporary basis for the sport. Among these rules? A standardized, diamond-shaped field, foul-ball lines, and the three-strike rule. With these new rules, the popularity of the sport began to grow, and many amateur, semi-professional, and professional leagues were formed all across the United States beginning in the late 1840s through the 1860s and 70s.  Baseball in Washington County […]