(9/24) "Without a specific heritage to claim as their birthright, people are rootless and consequently drift through life without knowing or understanding where they came from, who they really are, or where they’re truly going." - Sam Coles, The Odinic Rite – Guardians, 2014.
Many towns across the country have morphed through various names changes from the time they were founded to the present day. The Town of Thurmont is no exception, and once came precariously close to bearing the name Blue Mountain City - a name overwhelmingly support by locals - having been saved from such a fate by the U.S. Post Office, who felt the name was too long.
The story about how the Town of Thurmont came to be is but part of the panorama of its heritage and history, the subject of a new film, Almost Blue Mountain City: The History of Thurmont, MD, by Chris Haugh, Tourism Council of Frederick County.
The film covers the entirety of the history of Thurmont and its immediate surroundings from its founding to the present day, including its people, industry and natural resources, starting with the Thurmont area’s earliest settlers, and spans history to cover what would eventually become the Town of Thurmont.
The documentary discusses many crucial periods of history and their impact on the development of the town, including the colonial period, the early 1800s, the Civil War, and post-Civil War. It touches on the various industries and parks in Thurmont and the surrounding area and how they came to be.
It explores the history of Camp David and the Catoctin Furnace and their impact on the economy of the area, and specifically how they contributed to the growth of the Thurmont, brought work for the people, such as blacksmithing and leather making, assisted in the production and delivery of iron, and ultimately led to the creation of many parks and other developments.
The definitive, multi-year effort began in 1994 when Haugh first started planning and conducting research on the future film, producing a production outline. He was subsequently, considerably side-tracked to work on other productions, including a documentary of Frederick History entitled Frederick Town (1995), and the Emmy-award winning documentary Maryland’s Heart of the
Civil War with Maryland Public Television (2012).
Various degrees of work on the Thurmont movie occurred in spurts between those productions, but it was not until last year that Hough was able to return his attention to the production full-tilt.
Although overjoyed that the production is now finished, Haugh said he was saddened by the loss of many of the older town residents interviewed on film who have passed, and will thus never have had the chance to see the finished production.
Haugh said he was happy to have been able to interview Thurmont historian George Wireman prior to his death. "It was neat to have him be a part of the project and get his insight," said Haugh. "Of the people I was able to talk to, only one is still living…They were folks that were born in the early 1900s. They lived during the roaring 20s, the depression, World War II…It’s
gold to have captured that on video for future generations. They don’t have a chance to see the documentary…They passed on one heck of a legacy."
Premiere showing of documentary, a pay event and fundraiser sponsored by the Thurmont Historical Society, is scheduled for Sunday, October 26 at Springfield Manor. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the Thurmont Historical Society at 301-271-0309.
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