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bridge merge

Photo by Deb Spalding

Families participate in the BOJC and serve as “Bridge Builders” as they impart information from generation to generation. Pictured from left are John Hoke (BOJC “Bridge Builder” and former BOJC President 2010-11) with his sons, Michael, Daniel, and Steven; Dave Mackley holding his son, James Mackley (future BOJC member), with Dad, James L. “Buzz” Mackley; Jim Bittner has sponsored many BOJC participants including five grand kids (not pictured): Michael Sinclair, Christopher Miachle, Robert Miachle, Sam Bittner, and Calvin Bittner; Dick Bittner has sponsored his son, Thad Bittner (the Builder of this bridge) and Thad’s son, Dakota Bittner; Robert Abraham, Sr. (shown front right, former BOJC President 1976-77), is shown with his son, Robert Abraham, Jr. (current BOJC President), and his grandson, Hayden Spalding.

By Deb Spalding

A new foot bridge was constructed at Camp Airy in Thurmont this spring by Thad Bittner, his son Dakota, and the crew members of DPI (Decks Patios and Improvements, LLC) of Thurmont. These individuals represented the physical “Bridge Builders” for the project that holds symbolism in many ways. In 1941, The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock (BOJC), named after a chicken-like bird whose neck feathers are sought by anglers for tying flies for fly fishing, had its first-annual Campfire at Camp Airy, and the event has turned into a tradition that remains strong today. The close relationship between Camp Airy and The Brotherhood of Jungle Cock can easily be attributed to both organizations valuing the importance of imparting knowledge to youth and providing them with strong role models. This bridge is a physical reminder of these ideals.

Thurmont BOJC member, John Hoke, fills the formal role of “Bridge Builder” for the BOJC, as his father did before him. In that role, he recites the Bridge Builder Poem at the annual BOJC campfire that takes place each May. About the poem, John summarized that its words reaffirm its purpose, “To guide and teach today’s youth in their responsibilities and opportunities of tomorrow, which in respect to BOJC, mean the responsibilities of good sportsmanship, conservation, and preserving our natural resources.”

The actual bridge that was constructed by DPI spans over the culvert between Bentz Hall and the camp road. Thad Bittner created its layout and design. “I looked at the layout of the land, and I saw it in my head. I just drew it up, got approvals from the BOJC Board, and went to work,” said Bittner.

The bridge is faced in stone, has side walls at sitting level, matching handrail abutments, and a stairway to the porch of Bentz Hall. In addition, the project features artwork highlighting the bond shared between the BOJC and Camp Airy. R.S. Kinnaird Memorials completed the engraving of the Bridge Builder Poem on a large rock and engraved other symbols on rocks in the project.

Lloyd Hoke Reading the Bridge Builder circa 1978 -1John Hoke (pictured left reading the poem during the 2014 Campfire) said, “It has been a privilege and my honor to follow in the footsteps of my father, H. Lloyd Hoke, and to recite the Bridge Builder Poem at the annual BOJC campfire ceremony. Dad first recited the poem at the campfire--by-Kalvin-Thrashe1978 campfire (pictured right), and it has become a tradition for the organization ever since. This poem has very special meaning and captures the essence of what the BOJC stands for. It also has special meaning to me as a father of four. The “Bridge Builder” reminds us that life is full of obstacles, especially for young people who have many new paths to travel. To that end, we should all strive to “build a bridge” and share those lessons learned whenever we can.”


Visit the BOJC blog at http:\\\.

The Bridge Builder

by Will Allen Dromgoole

“The Bridge Builder” was written by Will Allen Dromgoole (1860–1934), a female poet from Tennessee, who wrote over 8,000 poems during her lifetime.


An old man, going a lone highway,

Came in the evening, cold and gray,

To a chasm vast and deep and wide,

Through which was running a sullen tide

The old man crossed in the twilight dim,

That sullen stream had no fears for him;

But he turned when he reached the other side

And built a bridge to span the tide.


“Old Man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,

“Why waste your strength in building here;

Your journey ends with the ending day,

And you never again must pass this way;

You’ve crossed the chasm deep and wide,

Why build your bridge at eventide?”


The Builder lifted his old grey head;

“Good Friend, in the path I have come,” he said,

“There followeth after me today

A youth whose feet must pass this way.

The chasm which was nought to me

To this fair haired youth might a pitfall be;

For he too must cross, in the twilight dim;

Good Friend, I’m building the bridge for him.”


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The courtyard at the Cozy Restaurant is shown on its last day of business, June 8, 2014.

by James Rada, Jr.

Cozy-outsideThurmont has lost one of its iconic businesses. The Cozy Restaurant was the oldest restaurant in Maryland, continuously owned by one family. That’s right….was. When the restaurant closed its doors on Sunday, June 8, 2014, it closed for good.

The closing means that around seventy-five employees, mostly part-time, will need to find new work. Parties and events that had been scheduled at the Cozy will need to find new venues.

“The motel will stay open, and we may rent or sell the restaurant,” owner Jerry Freeze told the Frederick News Post. “I’m almost eighty, and there really isn’t anyone left in the family to run the business. I never thought I would want to retire.”

Cozy-inside--WillysThe Cozy Inn and Restaurant began in 1929, when Wilbur Freeze purchased property on Frederick Road to build a tourist camp that consisted of three cottages, tents, shower building, rest room, and a gas station.

The restaurant had long been associated with Camp David since the Herbert Hoover administration. The Inn served as the original housing for Secret Service agents during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. The restaurant even had a Camp David Museum, which showed photos and memorabilia of Camp David, the Cozy, and the presidents who had visited over the years.

The restaurant portion of the Cozy Inn began in 1933. A small bar and luncheonette that could accommodate twenty people was built next to the gas station. It was built because Prohibition had ended and alcohol could be sold again.

Cozy-insideIn recent years, the Cozy’s buffet featuring meats, vegetables, salads, soups, and desserts has been a popular feature at the restaurant. It was a popular stop for tour buses passing through the region. According to the Cozy website, more than twenty million people have dined at the Cozy since it opened.

The closure of the restaurant does not affect the operation of the Cozy Inn and its twenty-one President-themed rooms and cabins.

The Cozy Restaurant was a member of the Maryland Restaurant Association Hall of Fame and the National Restaurant Association Hall of Fame.

Publisher’s Note:

On June 20 and 21, 2014, Cozy hosted a sale of the restaurant’s equipment and furnishings. Greeters would accept price inquiries about items and, “Check with Jerry [Freeze, the owner]” to see how much he wanted for each item.  If he was undecided, you were invited to fill out a bid sheet and, “put it in the box. He’ll call you if he accepts the bid.”  It was a strange going-out-of-business sale that emphasized the restaurant’s awkward closing after its 85-year run.

Cupcakes Now Available at Kountry Kitchen in Thurmont

by Deb Spalding

sherry cupcakesThe Thurmont Kountry Kitchen Restaurant is known for its homemade sheet cakes, especially Red Velvet Cakes. But for about a year, they have been creating cupcakes to meet a growing demand.

With owner Pat Ridenour’s 7 year old granddaughter, Jayden, on hand for support, Pat and her daughter, Sherry Myers, make sheet cakes, as well as various flavors of cupcakes. Some cupcakes are made from scratch and some are made from box mixes. Flavors include Almond Joy, chocolate with peanut butter icing, mint chocolate chip, lemon, strawberry shortcake, caramel apple pie, Mystery Machine with Scooby Do, Teddy Bear, Red Velvet, Coconut, Snickers, Dirt with worms, and every week a new flavor. If you have any requests, please call.

While watching as the cupcakes were being iced on a Monday, Jayden said, “I love cupcakes!” Cupcakes are $1.50 a piece, if you buy more than 12, they are $1.25 each. Some specialty cupcakes are $2.00 each. Call 301-271-4071 or stop by the restaurant at 17 Water Street in Thurmont.

Thurmont Thespians Anne of Green Gables Cast PhotoIt’s summertime and that means that the youth of Thurmont Thespians are working hard to bring to life one of the most beloved characters for generations, Anne Shirley in the classic story, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Laud Montgomery. Anne of Green Gables is the story of a brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert (Daniel Flanick, Nate Kopit, Rachel Johnson, and Mallory Donaghue) who are getting on in years and look to adopt a young boy in hopes that he could help on their farm. Unknown to Matthew and Marilla, the orphan asylum made a mistake and sent them a girl instead. This girl happens to be a red headed, opinionated, very talkative, spunky girl named Anne Shirley (Annabelle Perry, Courtney Lake), who has the ability to imagine anything and everything. Marilla would say that Anne has a knack for making mistakes. But, she is pleased to tell Marilla, that she never makes the same mistake twice. As the story progresses, Anne is able to touch the heart of everyone in the town of Avonlea.

The Thurmont Thespians have assembled some of the most talented young people into two casts, who sing and dance to tell this delightful story. The audience will be captured with the first song and held through to the curtain call. Even if you have never read the books, you won’t want to miss this spectacular musical!

Performances will be held at the Thurmont American Legion, located at 8 Park Lane in Thurmont. Show dates are July 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, and 27, 2014. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinee is at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $15.00 and may be purchased in advance by calling Becky Urian at 301-271-7613. Anne of Green Gables is made possible in part by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council through the Frederick Arts Council.

The Thurmont Thespians Summer Youth Workshop was founded in 1998 by Beth Royer Watson.

Each year, a summer music theater workshop is presented to children and teens at no cost to the participants. Every child that auditions receives an on stage role and learns all aspects of theater, culminating in two weekends of performances. The Thurmont Thespians are generously supported by St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Thurmont, Maryland. For more information about the Thurmont Thespians, visit

by Bob Warden

SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY…we have all heard those words in every aspect of our daily lives since we were old enough to crawl and get into things. The practice of being safe and doing things safely never ends, no matter how old we are, especially when it comes to firearms!

I grew up around guns and hunting and had safety rules drilled into me. Even before all of the course requirements we have today, my dad took me through a local hunting safety course when I was so small I could barely handle a gun.  I continue to stress safety in my home today, as did my dad with me, no matter how tired my children (who are adults now) get from hearing it over and over.  I never stop reminding: gun unloaded, safety on, etc. You need to make firearm safety automatic or second nature if you are going to use a firearm. You need to go through a check list in your head every time you handle a firearm. Look at the 10 Commandments of Firearm Safety at the end of this article.

Every household and everyone in the home who has a firearm should learn (take a class) and practice safety.  I don’t care if you have been around guns all of your life or your kids were brought up around guns, there is always something to learn about the safe handling of firearms.  Trust me, I have been around the gun industry for over forty years, and I have seen supposedly safe hunters or shooters do some dumb things, mainly because they get in a hurry and think they know it all.

I never rely on another person to be safe, even if I know they are.  When hunting or shooting—besides making sure I am safe—I watch the other people I am with to make sure they are safe.  If not, I tell them.  Never take safety for granted.  If the person you are hunting with doesn’t like it, find someone else to hunt or shoot with—it’s not worth an accident.

As my dad always told me, once you pull the trigger, you cannot bring that bullet back. So, please practice firearm safety and take a course.  I don’t care if you have one gun or a hundred guns, there is always something to learn.

Make firearm safety a family event.  Go to a safety course together, shoot together, join a local club together, have fun together.  But, most of all, be SAFE TOGETHER.

The following are websites where you will find information and the laws for Maryland: Gun ranges and hunter safety classes at (click on wildlife at the top and click shooting ranges or hunters education under Quick Links at the right); the National Rifle Association at (sign up early since some classes fill quickly). To see all of the requirements and laws in Maryland, visit (click on organization, then licensing division, then firearms).

Though many of our area’s sportsman clubs and ranges are membership clubs, they are a good investment to stay informed and shoot safely.

Here are some of our nearby clubs: Indian Lookout Conservation Club, Emmitsburg (301-447-2568); Thurmont Conservation and Sportsman’s Club, Thurmont (301-898-9093,; Blue Ridge Sportsman’s Club, Fairfield, Pennsylvania (717-794-2695,; South Mountain Rod and Gun Club, Smithsburg, Maryland (301-824-3570,; Cresap Rifle Club, Frederick, Maryland (301-662-6669,; Izaak Walton League of America, Frederick Chapter (240-629-2107,


The following are the 10 Commandments of Safe Gun Handling:

  1.     Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction–never at a person.
  2.     Firearms should be unloaded when not actually in use.
  3.     Don’t rely on your gun’s safety setting.
  4.     Be Sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
  5.      Always use correct ammunition.
  6.      If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, handle with care.
  7.      Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
  8.      Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before shooting.
  9.      Don’t alter or modify your gun and have it serviced regularly.
  10.      Learn the mechanical and characteristics of the firearm you are using.

The Legend of Catoctin Furnace, Part 1

by James Rada, Jr.

Editor’s Note: This is the first of three articles on the history and legends of Catoctin Furnace.

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

That’s what the newspaper editor tells James Stewart’s character in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. It’s also what has happened to the story of Catoctin Furnace over the centuries.

For more than 125 years, Isabella, Deborah, and an unnamed stack—the three furnaces of Catoctin Furnace—produced hundreds of tons of pig iron annually that helped build the United States before there was a United States.

The furnace’s real history is illustrative of industry in America. It even has its brush with fame since one of the early partners in the venture was Thomas Johnson, the first governor of Maryland. In later years, it has had U.S. Presidents, beginning with Herbert Hoover, camp or stay nearby.

That’s a proud history, a fine history, but the legends…The legends lift the Catoctin Furnace from one of many iron-smelting furnaces in early Maryland to a linchpin of American history.

Some believe iron from Catoctin Furnace defended America with cannonballs for the Continental Army, furthered American ingenuity with parts for James Rumsey’s steamboat engine, and changed naval warfare with the iron plates that protected the U.S.S. Monitor during the Civil War.

The truth, however, is somewhat different.

Despite a failed furnace on the west side of the Catoctin Mountains, the area south of Thurmont was a natural site for an iron furnace. The furnace in Washington County failed, because the ore was not good quality. That wasn’t the case with the Catoctin Furnace operation. The iron ore for the furnaces came from three sites on the property. Two ore banks were located behind the furnace. The third site was a mile north and the largest of the three, measuring 800 feet by 2,000 feet.

When the ore was mined—first by hand and later by steam shovels—the iron ore was mixed with clay. It took seven tons of clay to produce one ton of ore. That one ton of iron was a good grade, though. It was forty percent hydrous ferric oxide, limonite.

Not only was the iron ore good quality, but all of the needed materials to turn that ore into pig iron were also there. The Catoctin Mountains provided the needed timber for charcoal and basins for stream systems. Charcoal provided the heat for the whole process. Estimates are that the blast furnace used 800 bushels of charcoal a day. This required 5,000 to 6,000 cords of wood each year or an acre of 20- to 25-year-old hardwood each day. Water was used to wash the clay from the ore and drive the water wheel, which operated the furnace bellows. Limestone from nearby quarries was added to the ore to serve as a flux to remove impurities.

With an abundance of needed resources, it was only a matter of time before someone discovered all the ingredients for a successful mining operation. That someone was the Johnson Brothers and the year was 1774.

The land containing Catoctin Furnace was part of a 7,715-acre “Mountain Tract” obtained by Leonard Calvert and Thomas Johnson in 1768. However, in 1774, Calvert transferred his interest to Thomas’ other brothers, James, Baker, and Roger, and the brothers formed James Johnson and Company with the intention on building an iron-smelting operation.

“Catoctin furnace, situated about twelve miles northwest of Fredericktown, and within a mile of the present furnacestack, ‘was built in the year 1774, by James Johnson and Company and was carried on successfully until the year 1787’; in which year, the same company erected the present furnace ‘about three-fourth of a mile further up Little Hunting Creek, and nearer the ore banks,’” J.H. Alexander wrote in his 1840 Report on the Manufacture of Iron Addressed to the Governor of Maryland.

This makes the first furnace at Catoctin Furnace the 16th in Maryland. It was 32 feet high and surrounded by other needed equipment and machinery, such as a waterwheel, mill pond and races, a coal house to store charcoal, the bridge and bridge house to charge the stack, and a cast house. “The furnace operation also needed homes for its workmen, a store to supply their needs, barns and stables for the furnace stock, and a home for the ironmaster and his family. The 28 ft. by 36 ft. stone Manor House is believed to have been built at this time,” former Park Superintendent Frank Mentzer wrote in a series of articles about the history of Catoctin Furnace in the Frederick News.

This also became the beginnings of the community of Catoctin Furnace. The various jobs associated with running the furnace required men to do them. Miners dug the iron from the ground. Lumberers felled the trees and colliers prepared the charcoal from them. Fillers charged the furnace. Founders smelted the iron and cast it. And all of these people made their homes near the furnace.

The coal-fueled furnace went operational in the fall of 1775, in the midst of the Revolutionary War, which set the scene for the beginnings of the legends of Catoctin Furnace.

by James Rada, Jr.

Hawk - Animal ColumnWhen Alisha Norris with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources exits the mew (the bird’s own enclosure) of the red-shouldered hawk, it is sitting on her gloved hand. It spreads its wings and you expect to see those feathered wings stretch out five of six feet. However, the spread is only about half that, because the hawk only has one wing.

“The majority of hawks like this one are injured in accidents with automobiles,” Norris said.

Litter on the sides of the roads attracts rodents, which are an attractive prey for hawks. They sit high in trees on the side of the road, watching for their prey.

“They are so focused on their prey that they don’t see cars coming when they swoop down,” Norris said.

The resulting collision can kill the birds of prey or severely injure them, like the one at the Cunningham Falls State Park Aviary. The aviary not only houses the thirteen birds of prey in the park’s Scales and Tales program, but also five snakes and assorted turtles and tortoises.

“Scales and Tales is a tool we use to educate the public about wildlife management concerns and different initiatives,” Norris said. “We are not about wildlife rehabilitation.”

The Scales and Tales program allows visitors to get close to native Maryland wildlife without either the animal or visitor being put in danger. It is a statewide program that uses animals that can’t be released back into the wild. A park naturalist tells the stories of how they were injured and came to be at the park in a 45-minute presentation.

“Once a wild animal is taken in as a pet, just releasing it into the wild would be devastating,” Norris said.

This is because the animal has lost the ability to hunt for itself and is imprinted on humans, so it loses its natural fear of them.

“If any of these birds could kill on their own, they wouldn’t be here,” Norris said.

Scales and Tales also discusses issues like loss of habitat, environmental pollution, resource management, and biodiversity.

The Cunningham Falls program visits about four locations each month. These include schools, parks, community centers, senior centers, and festivals.

The red-shouldered hawk at Cunningham Falls is not named, as are none of the animals kept there.

“We don’t name them, because they are wild animals,” Norris said. “Our mission is to keep them wild.”

The red-shouldered hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that are up to two feet tall and weigh up to two pounds. They have dark and white checkered wings, and red feathering on their breasts. Their tails are black with narrow white bands. Their red shoulders become visible when they are perched.

In the wild, a hawk would hunt small mammals like chipmunks and mice, but the hawks at the Cunningham Falls Aviary are fed quail.

Most of the birds also have their own mews that are set up so they can move around to reach various perches and heights. It is their own space, which they can be territorial about. If two birds are kept together, it is not for breeding, since the purpose of the program is not to breed animals but to care for the ones that can’t care for themselves.

The park uses volunteers to help in their care and is always looking for help. Volunteers work a couple hours a week and are trained in the cleaning and feeding of the birds. If you are interested, please contact the park at 301-271-7574.

by James Rada, Jr.

The crowded slate of candidates for offices in Frederick County was thinned out considerably after the primary election that ended on Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

Current Board of Frederick County Commissioners President, Blaine Young (R), will be facing off against former Board President, Jan Gardner (D), in November to become the first Frederick County Executive. Young received a majority of Republican votes (53 percent) in a field of three candidates while Gardner was unopposed in her primary race.

The new Frederick County Council will have seven members, two of whom are Catoctin-area residents: Kirby Delauter (R) won 53 percent of the Republican vote and Mark Long (D) won 62 percent of the Democrat vote. They will face off for the District 5 seat in November.

The At Large County Council candidates will represent the interests of the county at large. There are two seats available in November. Democrats Susan Jessee and Linda Norris will go up against Republicans Billy Shreve and Bud Otis.

Incumbent County Sheriff, Chuck Jenkins (R), won 75 percent of the Republican vote and will face Karl Bickel (D) who ran unopposed in his race.

For the three seats available in the District 4 Maryland House of Delegates, Republicans Kathy Afzali, Kelly Schulz, and David Vogt, III, will be trying to keep it an entirely Republican delegation. Democrat Gene Stanton, who ran unopposed, will attempt to grab a Democrat voice in the delegation.

For the District 4 State Senator seat, Michael Hough won 68 percent of the Republican vote and unseated the three-term incumbent, State Senator David Brinkley. Hough will face Democrat Dan Rupli, who ran unopposed.

In the non-partisan Frederick County Board of Education race, voters will be selecting four candidates in November. Of the nine candidates on the ballot for the primary election, only one person was eliminated. The candidates running in November are: Liz Barrett, Jonathan Carothers, Colleen Cusimano, Mike Ferrell, Kenneth Kerr, April Miller, Richard Vallaster, III, and Brad Young.

County voters also voted in state-wide races, including Maryland governor, Maryland lieutenant governor, Maryland comptroller, attorney general, U.S. congressman, judge of the orphan’s court, register of wills, clerk of the circuit court, state’s attorney, and judge of the circuit court.

Current Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown (D) will be facing Larry Hogan (R) in the Maryland Governor race. The comptroller race will be between Peter Franchot (D) and William Campbell (R). Brian Frosh (D) and Jeffrey Pritzker (R) will be running for Attorney General and Chris VanHollen (D) and David Wallace (R) will be running for the U.S. House of Representatives District 8 seat.

Of the 149,393 registered voters in Frederick County, only 34,799 or 23.29 percent voted during the Primary Election. For a full listing of voting results during the primary election, visit the Frederick County Board of Elections website at

The General Election will be held on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. In the coming months, The Catoctin Banner Newspaper will be speaking with many of the local candidates about issues facing the region, their positions on the issues, and their qualifications for the offices they are seeking. If there are any questions or issues that you would like raised with the candidates, please let us know.

by Jim Houck, Jr.

Remembering Jim Spalding

jim spaldingJames Irvin Spalding, life-long resident of Thurmont, passed away peacefully in his home on May 19, 2014 at the age of 75 years. He was the loving husband of Ellen L. Sutton Spalding for 23 years.

Born January 23, 1939 in Thurmont, he was the son of the late Charles “Hamp” Spalding and Helen M. Gourley Spalding. Jim served in the United States Air Force for 4 years. He worked for the Maryland State Highway Administration as a Maintenance Foreman for 34 years and earned, along with his father, Charles “Hamp” Spalding, and brother, Don Spalding, a family accolade for 109 of combined service to the organization; Jim worked 34 years, Don 37 years, and Hamp 38 years.

He was a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, a life member and past Post Commander of AMVETS Post 7 in Thurmont, a member of the American Legion Post 121 in Emmitsburg, as well as the South Mountain Rod and Gun Club, and the Guardian Hose Company in Thurmont.

Jim was an athlete. At Thurmont High School, he played soccer, basketball, and baseball. In 1956 and 1957, his team won the Frederick County Championship for basketball.  He loved to dance and was good at it. He loved to have fun, tease people, and laugh with them.  He loved to cook and have his family for Sunday and holiday dinners. He helped the fire company in preparing food for different events.

He was involved with family functions and the community. On most days he would wake early and set the coffee on for his wife, then set about making his rounds to Bollinger’s Restaurant, to Shuff’s Meat Market, Hobb’s Hardware, and sometimes to Timeless Trends before settling back home.

He was a father that never missed an event, ballgame, outing, party, or celebration, and most of the time he was the first to arrive. He didn’t promise to be there, HE WAS THERE!

Jim made sure family and friends came together for one of his favorite activities — butchering. He guarded his recipes for pon haus closely and only shared the recipes with a few select individuals — imparting the knowledge slowly and sometimes without their knowledge. Those who had the privilege of tasting his recipes know his are some of the best.

Jim’s daughter, Kathy Hovermale, said, “He taught me so many things and I have a lot of funny stories I could tell you about jokes he played on me.”  One story she told was about Jim walking her down the aisle on her wedding day. She recalled, “When it was just him and me in the back of the church, he kissed me, told me he loved me, then kicked the side door open and said, ‘Last chance—we can run, I’ll go with you!’”

Jim found Kathy and her husband, Keith, a house that turned out to be right up the street from Jim’s house in Thurmont. Kathy said people thought she was crazy moving so close to her family. Kathy said that since moving in, “I needed them {Jim and her mother, Ellen} a thousand more times than they ever needed me. I ate their food, sat on their porch, and spent more time there bothering them than the other way around.”

Jim’s niece, Diane Miller said, “We talked on the phone every day and some days 2, 3, or 4 times, depending on what was going on. I had to keep him updated on what was going on around the farm.” She recalled his relationships with the farm animals, saying he wasn’t too fond of cats, but was very involved with all aspects of the farm.  She recalled him often asking what she was going to do when he wasn’t around to help with it anymore.  Diane said, “I know it’s not realistic, but I never thought that day would ever come.”

An ornery youngster, an elementary school teacher of Jim’s wrote on one of his report cards that he, “had a rather happy-go-lucky attitude about it all.” For all who knew him, that described him well.  He made friends wherever he went, even befriending a lady who had mistaken him for ‘Steve’ during a rest on a bench in a Walmart.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Mary Mahoney and husband, Michael, of Fairfield, Pennsylvania, Kathryn Hovermale and husband, Keith, of Thurmont; his grandson, James Austin Hovermale of Thurmont; his brothers, Donald L. Spalding and his wife Joan, of Thurmont, and Charles E. Spalding, also of Thurmont; nieces, Diane M. Miller and husband Randy, of Sabillasville, and Lisa Campbell and husband, Todd, and their daughter Katy, of Orangeville, Pennsylvania; and a nephew, Mark Spalding and his wife Deb, and their children, Lydia and Hayden, of Thurmont.

Traveling along 550 through Sabillasville to Fort Ritchie or Blue Ridge Summit or towards Thurmont, you will see stone fences with jagged quartz tops. The stones appear to be unique to this part of western Maryland and Pennsylvania. They probably were constructed sometime in the 1800s or early 1900s, as sturdier mortar mixtures became available. The stone was collected from area farms and fields, and the walls were constructed by local masons. The Brown brothers are names that keep surfacing as stone masons who worked in this area. Roscoe Pryor of Waynesboro is also another name. He helped construct Fort Ritchie’s stone entryway.

These fences differ from older New England stone fences also found in our area. Those were built loose with stone piled on stone. This type of fence doesn’t need mortar, because the stones sit lightly on the land. No foundation is needed. If constructed correctly, the stones actually expand and contract with the freeze cycle, and water can flow right through them. They are more common than our mortared, stone-topped fences.

However, while on a recent trip to Dublin, I took the train to the coastal city of Howth. While there—much to my amazement—I saw identically constructed limestone stone fences, glued together with similar mortar patterns and topped with the same jagged stone design on top. The fences surround what was once a stone fortress that was built by the Irish in the 900s as a defense against the Viking invasions. Originally in Ireland, the fences were used as cattle enclosures, but later they became useful as boundaries and made beautiful ornamental walls. So the idea for constructing stone fences in our area may have come from Ireland with Irish immigrants. Another source said the idea for these walls originally came from Germany first and then to Ireland. Though the origin of our stone fences remains a mystery, we can all be proud of the workmanship and the craftsmanship that created them.

by James Rada, Jr

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of articles about the history and evolution of newspapers in Emmitsburg and Thurmont.

BNP StaffAlthough Thurmont and Emmitsburg have remained distinctive communities, US 15 has connected them closely so that it is not uncommon to travel between the two multiple times in one day. This closeness of the communities has been reflected in the north county’s modern newspapers.

William “Bo” Cadle and his wife, Jean, started the monthly Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch in 1993.

“Volunteers helped us do all sorts of things. An unexpected and greatly appreciated alliance between people in the community (readers and merchants and the worker-bees) over the following months helped the paper to gain firmer footing,” Bo Cadle wrote in a 2002 editorial.

A couple years later, after he started his own paper, Bo encouraged Lori Zentz to get into the newspaper business. Chronicle Press had started The Catoctin Banner in 1994, but by 1995, Art Elder was looking to sell the paper. The Cadles already had the Regional Dispatch running, so they contacted Zentz about taking the Banner over.

Zentz saw a need for local news in Thurmont. WTHU in Thurmont was publishing the Thurmont Times, but this was seen more as a coupon supplement than a newspaper. The Gazette published a Thurmont/Walkersville edition, but it, like the Frederick News Post, focused more on happenings around Frederick. Meanwhile, the Regional Dispatch was primarily focused on Emmitsburg.

“When I took it over, I asked for public input about what they wanted,” Zentz recalls. “I tried to make it a paper they wanted. I focused on the good things.”

The newspaper was eight pages when Zentz took over, and it grew steadily, at one point reaching thirty-two pages. Her goal was to create a paper that was about Thurmont.

“Thurmont was growing and people were moving in who didn’t know what was going on in the town,” Zentz said.

Both the Banner and Dispatch continued operating independently, focusing mainly on their respective areas.

Cadle nicely described a community newspaper when he wrote in 2002, “As far as we know, there were few, if any national conversations, ever held, but the Dispatch chatted on. Writers, of less than national stature, but with their unique voice, kept us informed of what was going on in our churches, clubs, service organizations, and homes across the greater community. Local merchants and groups were willing to bend their bottom-line thinking and underwrote the Dispatch by placing ads or making donations to insure that the Dispatch was able to pay its way. Small-town journalism was taking root, not spectacularly, but the entire community, the Dispatch’s extended family, was contributing and the paper became a household word.”

In 2002, the Cadles decided to pass on the Disptach to Raymond and Jennifer Buchheister. They changed the name to The Emmitsburg Dispatch. The Buchheisters began publishing the newspaper twice a month.

“This was done as part of our continuing effort to reestablish a news publication in Emmitsburg that operated like the first publications the town had, up through The Emmitsburg Chronicle. These publications were usually weekly or daily editions. The MDDC (Maryland-Delaware-D.C.) Press Association guidelines require that a publication be printed twice monthly,” Ray Buchheister said.

In August 2002, The Emmitsburg Dispatch published a large color photo spread about the 20th anniversary of the Emmitsburg Lions Club annual Community Day. It was the first time an Emmitsburg newspaper had printed in color.

Three years later, The Emmitsburg Dispatch created its sister publication, The Thurmont Dispatch. Though the newspapers shared some stories, such as features and education, the news sections of both papers tended to focus on different subjects.

“Not only were we a member of the MDDC Press Association, we also won awards for excellence in writing,” Buchheister said.

Meanwhile, Zentz had shifted the focus of the Banner to include Emmitsburg and Thurmont news in response to the Buchheisters adding The Thurmont Dispatch. Running what was primarily a one-woman operation was wearing on Zentz. “For the last two weeks of every month, my family hardly saw me,” recalls Zentz.

She sold The Catoctin Banner to Deb Spalding in 2006. Spalding said, “I never intentionally entered the newspaper business; I just wanted to keep a good thing going. As a reader, I looked forward to receiving the Banner each month.”

Spalding added additional color and pages to the paper and expanded the focus to truly include the Catoctin region, from mountain news to the west in Sabillasville, Cascade, and Blue Ridge Summit to the east in Rocky Ridge, to the south in Lewistown and north to the Mason Dixon Line.

Both Dispatch newspapers ceased publication in November 2008. The following year, Michael Hillman tried to restart the Emmitsburg Chronicle with Lisa Elder, whose family had owned the Chronicle, but after a couple of issues, Hillman went his own way and renamed the newspaper the Emmitsburg News Journal.

“I don’t think operating a newspaper in our area as a stand-alone business is feasible without sponsorship. The Catoctin Banner’s sponsorship rests upon several advertisers who have committed to our mission and have not wavered since I took over; those advertisers are greatly appreciated,” said Spalding. “Before I had help, I was overwhelmed and actually asked for help or someone to take it over. I was fortunate to have several individuals join the Banner team who have made the newspaper better than it could have ever been without them.”

by James Rada, Jr.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Chris Haugh has written the ultimate history of Thurmont. When Almost Blue Mountain City: A History of Thurmont, Maryland, is released this fall, the documentary will run roughly three hours and contain thousands of pictures of Thurmont from its 263-year life.

“We are almost to the finish line,” said Haugh, who is Scenic Byway & Special Projects Manager with the Tourism Council of Frederick County. “I’ve been working on this project since 1999, but I really think the idea goes back to 1993 or 1994.”

Inspired by Ken Burns documentary series, Haugh had set out to create a local one. “I was fascinated by Thurmont and found it appealing,” Haugh said.

However, he had barely gotten started on mapping out the project when his attention and efforts at Adelphia Cable were directed toward creating something for Frederick’s 250th anniversary.

After that, fate just seemed to conspire against the project. It kept getting pushed back and back. The cable company was sold, and Haugh started a new job with Frederick County Tourism.

The Thurmont project tied in well with the Frederick County Tourism’s goals, and Haugh finally got to start working on it again. He wrote a treatment in 1999 and came to Thurmont in 2000 to film interviews with older citizens who knew about the history of the town.

“Vic Jagow was my liaison, taking me to meet the people who could help me,” Haugh said.

He then started shooting additional footage that would be intermixed with photographs and interviews. The result is a chronological story of Thurmont, beginning at its roots with the German migration to the area from Pennsylvania in the 18th century.

“During that time period, this was the western frontier,” Haugh said. “Those Germans were taming the wilderness.”

The title Almost Blue Mountain City refers to when Mechanicstown changed its name in 1893. Mechanicstown’s business leaders were a major proponent of the name change.

“I think the town fathers had this idea for this to become a great resort town like Pen-Mar, and it never really materialized,” Haugh said.

The Western Maryland Railroad was coming to Mechanicstown; it was also decided that the town needed a name change. There were just too many towns along the route with “Mechanic” in the name.

The two leading choices for a new name were Blue Mountain City and Thurmont. The residents overwhelmingly chose Blue Mountain City, but the United States Postal Office shot it down as being too long, so Thurmont became the town’s new name.

The Thurmont Historical Society has been a big supporter of the film and plans to have a large debut event at Springfield Manor on the afternoon of October 26, 2014.

“We’ll watch the first two century, then break for food, and then watch the rest of the film,” said Donna Voellinger, the president of the Historical Society.

Haugh said he only wishes that the people he interviewed were still around to be able to see thecompleted film. Still, he feels lucky to have been able to capture their stories for posterity.

“Seeing them on film will be almost like digging up a time capsule,” Haugh said.

by Gracie Eyler                                                              

DSC_0037 The Vigilant Hose Company in Emmitsburg successfully held their 6th Annual Spring Fling on Echo Field at Mount St. Mary’s University, despite sopping wet conditions. Heavy rain the day before the event caused extra work, as volunteers began setting up the day before the big event in preparation of the biggest Spring Fling yet. With over 1,600 tickets sold, they worked diligently to set up tents, tables, and chairs; stock the coolers; and prep the grills—only after they siphoned the very wet, Echo Field.   “We were lucky to have sunshine and nice weather the day of the event, considering the four inches of rain that down-poured the day before,” said one of the event’s coordinators, Gabe Baker. “We were able to utilize our fire training to pump the excess water off the fields, using a relay system,” added Baker. The relay system worked by using a series of three pumps. In consideration of the grounds, they opted to use four-wheelers and lighter equipment, as opposed to big trucks and larger trailers, to haul items during set up. This made for the longest set up in years. They also had many fire calls to cover on Friday and Saturday, during the set up and during the actual event. Volunteers seemed to be unflappable as they prepared and served food to participants. Nine hundred pounds of beef, 3,000 pounds of barbecued chicken, 1,000 pounds of hot dogs, and a lot of drinks were consumed over the course of the day. One Spring Fling participant was heard asking, “Did you have some of that chicken?  It was so good!  It was grilled perfectly.” The Vigilant Fire Hose Company would like to thank everyone who participated or volunteered their time to make for another successful Spring Fling, especially the Thurmont, Biglerville, and Leesburg Fire companies who stood in that day.

For a list of winners, visit their website at


Spring Fling volunteers, Laurie Wivell, Julie Davis, Tiffany Click,    and Greg Sterner organize fundraising tickets to sell.





Volunteers grill and prepare food for Spring Fling participants—900 pounds of beef, 3,000 pounds of barbecued chicken, 1,000 pounds of hot dogs, and a lot of beverages consumed throughout the day.






Sally McIlrath (left) and Ann Benjamin added to the fun at the Spring Fling.



by Deb Spalding

2014051695065637When I was waking up just before 6:00 a.m. on Friday, May 16, 2014, I thought the highlight of the day would be my son, Hayden’s, 14th birthday and his going fishing at the annual Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock (BOJC) event at Camp Airy later that day. When I glanced out the window, I was surprised to see a pond in an area that is usually green lawn.  I checked Facebook on my ipad and read some posts by our local unofficial weather man, Chris Black of Catoctin Mountain Orchard, where he reported three and one-half inches of rain overnight. Other posts mentioned a bus stranded between the top and bottom of Route 77, and a water rescue at the turn below Camp Peniel on Route 77.  Route 550 was also closed, and photos of the watery mess were starting to be posted. I could hear the emergency sirens in Thurmont.

I phoned my parents, who live at the top of the mountain off of Route 77, to tell my father that the road was closed. I knew he would be itching to get to the BOJC.  Mom hung up from my call, so she could call my brother, who lives back her lane, to make sure he made it to his house, since he had driven in from out of town overnight. Mom called me back to say that my brother had indeed arrived home safely around 4:00 a.m., also mentioning that it made sense that there was a water rescue, because their six-inch rain gauge was overflowing. “All of that water had to go somewhere,” she said.

My daughter, Lydia, was driving to school at Catoctin, so I suggested a route where she would encounter the least amount of water. After a few minutes, she texted that she arrived safely to school.

My Mom called me back again and said, “That water rescue was your sister.”  While on that call, my sister, Carol Gray, beeped in. I switched to her call, and she proceeded to tell me of her adventure that morning.

As a hospital sales representative, she was on her way to the V.A. Hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia, to deliver medical supplies for a patient’s surgery that was scheduled to take place at 8:00 a.m.  A little after 6:00 a.m. she was driving up Route 77 from Thurmont and encountered water over the road just before the Camp Peniel Bridge. She was following two 4×4 trucks who made it through, but she stopped for fear that she wouldn’t make it. Her vehicle is a small SUV. There was a car and a school bus behind her, so she couldn’t go backwards. Behind the bus was the hair-pin curve below Camp Peniel. She called 911.

For 45 minutes, the folks at 911 coached her to stay calm while emergency crews were dispatched. During the 911 call, the flash flood waters must have reached their peak because the waters dissipated quickly while the emergency crews planned their approach. Within 20 minutes, Carol was escorted from her car by Frederick County Advanced Technical Rescue personnel.  The water had receded to the point that the lines on the road were visible. From her perspective, having watched for nearly an hour as the water rushed around her and large tree limbs narrowly missed her vehicle as they swished by, she was shaken up.

By 8:00 a.m. she was on her way to deliver the supplies to the hospital.

By 9:00 a.m. the heavy rain and flooding was a distant memory for all of us.

It’s all a matter of perspective. To Carol, as she made the decision to stop her vehicle in treacherous water, it was a life-threatening time.  If she had followed the trucks, would she have been swept away?  We’ll never know.

To citizens, the morning was eventful.  There were several water rescues across Frederick County, it was a challenging morning for motorists, and it was exciting. Guardian Hose Company’s Chief, Chris Kinnaird, indicated that from an emergency service perspective in Thurmont, “It wasn’t as bad as it seemed.” Regarding the multiple emergency sirens that were sounded, he said, “We were able to handle all the calls with the resources that were available.”

In an effort to prevent a flood water emergency in our futures, I did a quick search on the internet for flood safety tips.  The following facts are from the Office of Insurance and Safety in Georgia: Flash floods are those that develop within six hours of a rain storm, but severe flash floods can occur in a matter of minutes, depending on the intensity and duration of the rain and the topography of an area.

If you come to an area that is covered with water, you will not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water. The reason that so many people drown during flooding is because few of them realize the incredible power of water. A mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away a vehicle. This includes pickups and SUVs.

Anyone who has witnessed a flash flood can testify to the devastating power of fast-rushing water. Flash floods can roll boulders, uproot trees, destroy buildings and bridges, carry away vehicles and create deep new channels in the earth.

Play it smart, play it safe. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded road, TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN!