Savage River State Forest


Points of Interest

Savage River State Forest in beautiful Western Maryland has some very interesting places to see when one comes to visit.

Savage River Dam

This 230-acre reservoir was started in 1939 and completed in January 1951. It was built as a flood control dam. The reservoir offers fishing and boating opportunites. It was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is owned by the Upper Potomac River Commission. The largest part of the drainage area sits in Savage River State Forest. This large body of water can be used for fishing and boating (kayaks/canoes/row boats). No gas powered motors permitted on this body of water (electric/solar powered are permitted). It provides recreational opportunities for the forest visitor.

1989 Canoe/Kayak World Championship

The Savage River became the site of the 1989 World Whitewater Championships. This historic event took several years of planning and many private/public agencies to make this event happen. The Savage River was chosen because the flow of the river is controlled by the release of the dam. The water release can create a Class V whitewater which is exactly what was needed for the race event.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers November 1991 report, they indicated that approximately ”600 athletes from 30 countries were involved in the first world championship whitewater event to take place not only on the Savage River, but in the entire US as well”. There are bridges that cross the river and can still be accessed. There was a walking path across the river but it is quite rough and it is really not recommended for hiking.

Braddock’s Trail

A portion of the historic Braddock’s Trail crosses the summit near St. John’s Rock. Many historians have written about the hike up the east slope of Big Savage Mountain and how tough that hike must have been for Braddock’s Army. There are numerous places on Savage River State Forest where the trail went through.

The B-52 crash memorial/crash site

On a cold, winter’s day – January 13, 1964, a B-52 “Buzz One Four” was carrying five crewmen and two thermonuclear bombs. They were leaving Massachusetts enroute to Georgia. They got caught in a horrible winter storm and the aircraft crashed. The pilot and the co-pilot both lived. The Navigator, Major Robert L. Payne’s body was found in Poplar Lick Run. There is a monument there to honor him. The actual wreckage is located on private land near Savage River State Forest. The Historical Society in Grantsville has a museum with items and information from this crash. Search teams from three counties walked through deep snow and blizzard conditions for five days to comb the area for the crew. Some of our local citizens tell of their experiences as they participated in the search efforts. This is the only crash on US soil that was carrying nuclear bombs.