Cumberland Times-News

Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum

August 7, 2008

Quality, attitude of people make 'Burg special

A note in the newspaper a week or so ago mentioned that Oprah Winfrey was looking for "the best small towns in America.'' Frostburg is the best one I know of - but unfortunately Oprah asked for photos or videos supporting the nomination.

It is not our town's architecture, or its unique entertainment offerings that make it special; it is the quality and attitude of its citizens that makes it stand out.

I don't know of any other town that has a swimming pool dug by hand by volunteers. Ours dates from 1921, when an item in the newspaper urged citizens to bring their own picks and shovels to the site; it has been enlarged and improved, but our children are still swimming where their ancestors turned a watering hole for horses into a community pool.

Frostburg is also unique in having a university that is a monument to coal miners. The state legislature had reluctantly appropriated $20,000 for a teacher-training school in Allegany County, but not one cent for ground on which to build it.

It was the coal miners who came to the rescue, contributing to the Normal School Fund that reached its goal in three weeks. The names of the miners, and the amounts they contributed in 1898 are a matter of record. Almost half a century later their descendants again intervened, and prevented the school closing that was recommended by the state board.

Frostburg began not as a mining town, but as a staging stop on the National Road. When the railroads were built in mid-19th century, highway travel decreased, and the town became the coal capital of Maryland.

For about 75 years it flourished as the home of mine superintendents, lawyers, bankers and land speculators. Miners, who lived in the satellite villages, close to where they worked, flocked into town on Saturdays to take advantage of the stores that lined Main Street.

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Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum
  • Happy 200th to St. Paul's Lutheran congregation Today is the 200th birthday of the Lutheran congregation in Frostburg!

    On Aug. 14, 1808, 24 people joined in a communion service in the New Church, a log structure on the edge of what is now called the Prichard Farm.

    August 14, 2008

  • Quality, attitude of people make 'Burg special A note in the newspaper a week or so ago mentioned that Oprah Winfrey was looking for "the best small towns in America.'' Frostburg is the best one I know of - but unfortunately Oprah asked for photos or videos supporting the nomination.

    August 7, 2008

  • There's always something new under the sun! The popular press has been devoting a good bit of space in recent weeks to the new swimsuit, introduced by Speedo, which supposedly has contributed to the record-breaking times posted in the Olympic tryouts.

    July 24, 2008

  • Ward and his mansion stand proud in 'Burg I've had questions recently - not for the first time! - about William Ward and the house he built at 73 W. Main St. here in Frostburg.

    July 17, 2008

  • July 4th: Finding our beliefs Independence Day, like Christmas, is one of the few national holidays that has not been moved to Monday, to provide a four-day break for working people. It holds its own as the Fourth of July.

    July 3, 2008

  • Berry-picking brings back many memories Last week I went to Wiley Ford to pick strawberries. I came home with enough for several packets of frozen berries, for three jars of strawberry jam, generous spoonfuls of fruit on my breakfast cereal and shortcake with real whipped cream.

    June 26, 2008

  • Ambulance service has key community role The Frostburg Area Ambulance Service is currently asking for our help in raising money for the protective clothing that new government regulations require.

    June 19, 2008

  • Planet continues to change; Big One on horizon? In a year that is not yet half over, 2008 has already written itself into the record books for extremes of hot and cold, rain and drought, tornadoes and floods and earthquakes. Our planet Earth has been in a constant state of change.

    June 12, 2008

  • In tennis, individuals face each other as equals I'm not a sports person, but I like to watch tennis. During the three big summer tournaments - Paris, London and New York, played on three different surfaces - my TV is on, and I check the newspaper for details that I have missed.

    June 5, 2008

  • Arts are obviously alive in Allegany County Last week I had the pleasure of attending the spring concert of the Allegany Community Symphony Orchestra. The program was free, and nicely varied, and the instrumentalists were competent.

    May 29, 2008

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