Taking a slow walk at City Park

July 23, 2000|By KERRI SACCHET

Taking a slow walk at City Park

Editor's Note: We asked our student interns this summer to take a look at Washington County attractions with a tourist's eyes. Through their reports, we hope you might rediscover attractions in our own back yard. This is the third in a series.

As I walked down the eight flights of stairs to enter Hagerstown City Park from atop layered wooden decks, I felt as if I was 5 years old again.

Ahead of me a merry-go-round was spinning as a child giggled and clung to the metal bars on the play equipment.

As you walk down the path towards the lower lake, squirrels will scurry in front of you as they zig-zag around the grass.


Bright red and yellow flowers line the sides of the path that leads to a small pond filled with ducks and swans dipping their heads in and out of the water.

City Park has its own abundance of history including facts on a sign that tells you Robert E. Lee established field headquarters during the Civil War in the Mansion House on the rear hill of the park.

Formerly known as Heyser's Woods, the city officials purchased 50 acres of the land for the citizens of Hagerstown in 1915.

I found out later as I read the walking trails sign that I had taken the "Heyser Walk," which winds around the entire lower lake and up by the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

The lower lake area's paved pathways had picnic tables and benches dotted around the trail with tall weeping willow trees' branches slowly moving back and forth in the breeze.

The concession stand sells a variety of toys, candy, drinks and food including snacks for the animals. Crack corn for the waterfowl can be bought at 35 cents for a small bag and $1 for a large bag.

Big Spring was another picturesque spot at the park. The little area includes a stone pathway leading to a spring that flows beneath two small bridges into the lower lake.

At the side of City Park, over a railroad track into a gravel driveway sits another important historical feature of Hagerstown - Jonathan Hager's first home in Western Maryland.

The Jonathan Hager House preserves the history of not only Hager and his family, but also the 18th century German culture he brought to the area.

The house was intricately designed by Hager to be used as both a dwelling and a fort against possible Indian attacks.

Built on top of two fresh water springs in 1739, today you can still walk on 261-year-old floor boards that Hager himself walked on at one time in one of three bedrooms in the home.

Hager, a cattleman, farmer and captain in the French and Indian War, was also a fur trader and the Hager House acted as his trading post.

A bear tooth necklace in a bowl, on top of bear, rabbit, and deer furs, decorates the table in the room adjacent to the schrank - the German word for wardrobe.

John Bryan, historical interpreter and tour guide of the Hager House, will inform you that in the sewing room there is a wool mill and yarn winder. To make a complete outfit sometimes took a year.

The basement, which originally had a dirt floor, has splayed windows, wider on the inside than outside, that helped for a better angle for a rifle shot in case of attack.

Behind the Hager House is a one-room museum which holds artifacts found during the renovation of the Hager House in 1962.

Among these are numerous pieces of painted pottery, clothes worn by Hager and his family and portraits of descendants in the Hager family.

The City Park Bandshell, Mansion House and Washington County Museum of Fine Arts are also features to be seen at the park.

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