New Germany State Park

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History

In the late 19th century, German immigrants traveled south from the National Road and established a village. The landscape so strongly reminded them of their homeland that they called the village New Germany. The residents of New Germany were primarily farmers.

Building a Community -- The Swauger, Swatzengruber and Swartzentruber families built a dam, creating the 13-acre lake that became the center or the small community. Around 1930, the McAndrew brothers, Philip and Michael, owned most of the area around the lake. Mike McAndrew operated a “Jot Em Down” store, and Phil ran the grist mill. Some other facilities in the small community were a large garage, a large barn, the community’s one-room school, a residence now known as the “Martin House” and the McAndrew’s residence. At the north end of the lake, Mr. C.J. Otto had a grocery store, filling station, and post office. Mr. Otto also ran a large sawmill near present-day Twin Churches Road.

The Civilian Conservation Corps Creates a Park -- During the Depression area, the federal government recognized that the land in Garrett County was better suited for forestry than farming, and bought out many of the farmers via the Sub-marginal Land Utilization Program. The federal government turned the land over to the state, creating the 54,000-acre Savage River State Forest. In the 1930s, Camp S-52, Company 326 of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was stationed at New Germany to create a recreation area. The CCC boys spent their first Garrett County winter in canvas tents, but were busy creating more permanent facilities. They soon constructed barracks, a mess hall, recreation hall, shower house, infirmary, offices, and several other structures for their use. The crew also began construction of facilities for the New Germany Recreation Area, including reconstructing the dam and building the cabins, pavilions, and campground area, which are still in use today. The Rec Hall is the only remaining remnant of the living quarters used by the CCC members.

Recreation -- Soon after the New Germany CCC camp was disbanded in 1938, people began flocking to the area for recreation. Bowing to pressure from ski clubs, the state negotiated with Mr. Samuel Otto to use his property for a downhill ski run, complete with a rope tow powered by a 1935 ¾ ton Dodge truck. Visitors could stay at the Alexander (Martin) house in dormitory-like quarters, in the cabins, in the old barracks, or with local families. Some visitors would regularly drive six to eight hours from Washington or Baltimore to visit the park for the weekend. In February 1941, New Germany was the site of the first Open Ski Championship Meet ever held south of the Mason Dixon Line.

With the cabins and campground built, the New Germany Recreation area also became popular for summer activities, including fishing, swimming, and picnicking. Visitors continue to enjoy these same activities more than 50 years later.​