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Fort Frederick celebrates 250 years

May 27, 2006|by TARA REILLY

BIG POOL - A loud blast of a cannon left a cloud of smoke hovering over a grassy area on Friday just outside the stone walls of Fort Frederick State Park.

It signaled the start of a weekend that had been planned for three years - the fort's 250th anniversary.

Park Manager Angie Hummer said about 5,000 people are expected to attend this weekend's celebration.

A small crowd, mostly re-enactors, gathered at the fort for Friday's opening ceremony, which saw former park Superintendent Ralph Young address the crowd dressed as Gov. Horatio Sharpe.

Fort Frederick served as a frontier defense in Maryland during the French and Indian War.

It later was used as a prison for British soldiers during the Revolutionary War, and was used by Union soldiers during the Civil War.

Nathan Williams purchased the property in 1860 and farmed the land. The state bought it back in 1922.

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Sharpe built the fort in 1756 "to protect English settlers from French and Indian raiding parties and to serve as a base of supplies for attacking the French," according to information provided by the park.

Young's address reflected the sentiment of Sharpe upon leaving the fort for Annapolis on Aug. 16, 1756.

He spoke of the "evil design" of the French and their "barbarian allies," and the importance of loyalty to the king, neighbor and family.

Young, speaking in the voice of Sharpe, said the "stone fortress" was "a sign of our determination to resist French expansion."

Hummer described the fort as unique because of its design and history.

"Where else can you see a two-acre fort that's completely made out of stone?" she said. "It's not something that you see very often."

Betsey Lillard, chair of the 250th Anniversary Committee, said she anticipates a large crowd for today's events, which include a French and Indian War cannon demonstration, 18th-century music, and Revolutionary War and Civil War living history demonstrations. Today's events wrap up with fireworks at 9 p.m.

About 200 re-enactors are expected.

Sunday's events run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Lillard said she is looking forward to today's activities, in particular the "military through the ages" event. She said re-enactors dressed as soldiers from different eras will line up and march through the fort.

"I'm really excited," she said. "It will get me weeping."

Connie Weaver of Williamsport said she plans to enjoy the weekend. Her husband, Robert Weaver, is president of The Friends of Fort Frederick. The group, along with the park, sponsored the anniversary weekend.

"Oh, I love it," Connie Weaver said. "I'm not sure some people recognize the historical significance of the place."




Fort Frederick State Park is at 11100 Fort Frederick Road near Big Pool. From the Hagerstown area, take Interstate 70 west to Exit 12 (Md. 56). Turn onto Md. 56 and go one mile. The park entrance is on the right.

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