Upcoming Events

July 27, 2024 @ 9:00 am 3:30 pm

Explore Washington County’s Potomac River history on Saturday, July 27, as the Washington County Historical Society travels back in time to visit sites connected to this unique part of our county’s landscape and heritage. WCHS’s Executive Director Andy Stout, together with WCHS staff and board members, will guide our group for the day as we meet up with others along the way.

We’ll start our trip at the JC Penney parking lot located on the East side of the Valley Mall in Hagerstown, MD. The group will depart from this location by bus at 9:00 AM. Guests should plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to departure.

After a brief bus ride, we’ll arrive at our first stop of the day at Cushwa Basin C&O Canal Park. Here we’ll visit the Visitors Center and meet up with NPS staff for a brief introduction to a few of the many features found around this portion of the C&O Canal. We’ll take a short walk around the area to visit the Conococheague Aqueduct, Bollman Bridge, Lockhouse 44 and other sites.

Next, we’ll head across Williamsport to visit the collections and exhibits of the Williamsport Museum at Springfield Farm where we’ll also have lunch. Here, we’ll meet with Sandy Izer from the Williamsport Historical Association and tour this beautiful 18th century farm.

After the Williamsport Museum, our tour is headed to our final destination of the day, Ft Frederick State Park. Here we will tour America’s only stone French and Indian War fort and meet up with Ft. Frederick State Park Ranger, Robert Ambrose.

Following our tour of Ft. Frederick, we’ll head back to the JC Penney parking lot where we started from, located on the East side of the Valley Mall in Hagerstown, MD. Guests will arrive back at the JC Penney parking lot at the Valley Mall by 3:30 PM.

Price per guest is $50 for WCHS members and $65 for non-members. Non-member tickets include a complementary WCHS individual membership. Contact us at 301-797-8782 or email us at info@washcohistory.org to make your reservation.

We have more WCHS Bus Tours planned for 2024. Stay tuned to our eventbrite and washcohistory.org/events/ for announcements of destinations and dates! $50 – $65

$50 – $65
17301 Valley Mall Road #Ste 400
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740 United States
+ Google Map
July 27, 2024

Potomac River History Tour

Explore Washington County’s Potomac River history on Saturday, July 27, as the Washington County Historical Society travels back in time to visit sites connected to this unique part of our county’s landscape and heritage. WCHS’s Executive Director Andy Stout, together with WCHS staff and board members, will guide our group for the day as we meet up with others along the way. We’ll start our trip at the JC Penney parking lot located on the East side of the Valley Mall in Hagerstown, MD. The group will depart from this location by bus at 9:00 AM. Guests should plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to departure. After a brief bus ride, we’ll arrive at our first stop of the day at Cushwa Basin C&O Canal Park. Here we’ll visit the Visitors Center and meet up with NPS staff for a brief introduction to a few of the many features found around this portion of the C&O Canal. We’ll take a short walk around the area to visit the Conococheague Aqueduct, Bollman Bridge, Lockhouse 44 and other sites. Next, we’ll head across Williamsport to visit the collections and exhibits of the Williamsport Museum at Springfield Farm where we’ll also have lunch. […]
June 22, 2024

Ransom of Hagerstown Dinner-Auction Fundraiser

Join the WCHS Saturday, June 22, 5-9PM for our Ransom of Hagerstown Dinner-Auction Fundraiser! This fundraiser held at the Women’s Club of Hagerstown will commemorate the 160th Anniversary of the Ransom of Hagerstown.  During the event, enjoy a cocktail hour featuring Stoney Creek Bluegrass Band, followed by dinner catered by Hicksville Barbecue. During dinner guests will hear an address delivered by keynote speaker Stephen Bockmiller, author of Follow the Money: The 1864 Confederate Ransom of Hagerstown, Maryland. Dinner will be followed by dessert, more music, and silent auction and raffle baskets winners. Help the WCHS save history with your ticket purchase, which supports our goal of raising $20,000. This amount symbolizes McCausland’s original 1864 ransom demand. Your support helps us continue our efforts to preserve Washington County’s history through educational programming, exhibits, lectures, events, and more. Individual tickets are available at $50 for WCHS members and $65 for non-members. Tables and other sponsorship opportunities are available; please call the WCHS offices at (301) 797-8782 or email at info@washcohistory.org for more information.
June 17, 2024

Railroads, whiskey and moonlight: Meet ‘Snap’ McCoy, Hagerstown’s prolific moonshiner

Article Author: Abigail Koontz (This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail July, 2024) While American gangsters Al Capone and Bugs Moran were terrorizing Chicago, over 631 miles away in Washington County, local moonshiner Harry “Snap” McCoy was busy distilling and selling illegal liquor in Hagerstown and the surrounding communities. McCoy’s story captures the turbulent years of Prohibition and the history of moonshiners active in Washington County during that time. McCoy was born Jan. 7, 1870, to blacksmith Elbert McCoy and Emma (Ardinger) of Williamsport. In 1878, Elbert died of tuberculosis, leaving Emma to care for five children. McCoy’s childhood in Williamsport was a bustling, novel one. The Cumberland Valley Railroad reached the outskirts of Williamsport in 1872. The following year, the Western Maryland Railroad ran directly into Williamsport, connecting to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The railroad had a profound effect on McCoy. Although he only completed the fourth grade, by age 30 he worked as a conductor for the WMRR in Williamsport. A 1906 photograph in the Washington County Historical Society collection captures McCoy posing for the camera beside his friend, Sam McClannahan, at the train station. An oncoming train is visible just over their shoulders. In January 1919, […]
May 21, 2024

The Updegraffs wore a lot of hats — and manufactured most of them

Article Author: Abigail Koontz (This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail May, 2024) Hats have long fulfilled many roles, from functionality to symbols of self-expression and social status. One iconic hat of the last two centuries is the top hat. Two 19th-century silk top hats in the Washington County Historical Society’s collection offer glimpses into early local hat manufacturers — particularly the hatter George Updegraff. When top hats emerged in the 1790s, descending from earlier styles like the 17th century Pilgrim hat, they were made from felted beaver fur. Beaver felt top hats were initially expensive status symbols, but they were also functional, as beaver fur shed water. Beaver fur was so popular the European beaver population had been depleted by the mid-1600s. French fur traders sought beaver pelts in North America, trading with native populations for furs or hunting down beavers along rivers. Trappers moved further west, decimating beaver populations and spreading malaria through native populations, until reaching California by the 1820s. As pelts flooded American markets, the prevalence of American beaver felt top hats grew, influenced by European fashions. Washington County was no exception. On Aug. 12, 1823, the Maryland Herald announced that the hat manufacturing firm, Updegraff […]