Gathland State Park

Gathland State Park
Maryland State Park
The War Correspondents Memorial Arch at Gathland State Park
Country United States
State Maryland
Counties Frederick, Washington
Elevation 961 ft (293 m) [1]
Coordinates 39°24′13″N 77°38′28″W / 39.40361°N 77.64111°W / 39.40361; -77.64111Coordinates: 39°24′13″N 77°38′28″W / 39.40361°N 77.64111°W / 39.40361; -77.64111 [1]
Area 140 acres (57 ha) [2]
Established 1949
Management Maryland Department of Natural Resources
IUCN category III[3]
Location in Maryland
Website: Gathland State Park

Gathland State Park is a public recreation area and historic preserve located on South Mountain near Burkittsville, Maryland, in the United States. The state park occupies the former estate of war correspondent George Alfred Townsend (1841-1914), who wrote under the pen name "Gath" during the American Civil War. The estate's few remaining original structures include the War Correspondents Memorial Arch, which sits alongside the Appalachian Trail. The park is operated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.[4]


In 1884, Townsend acquired land in Crampton's Gap, the site of the Battle of Crampton's Gap and one of three gaps on South Mountain where the Battle of South Mountain had been fought between Union and Confederate forces in an early encounter in the Maryland Campaign. Townsend purchased the land as a retreat and immediately began designing the buildings that would become Gapland, his estate. His first project, Gapland Hall, an eleven-room house, was built in 1885. It was followed that year by Gapland Lodge, a stone servants' quarters. The large Den and Library Building with a study, library, and ten bedrooms was added in 1890; only its foundation and some fragments remain today. After Townsend's death, Gapland changed hands three times before being acquired by the Department of Forests and Parks and named as a state park in 1949.[5]


Townsend's most famous and longest-lasting project was completed in 1896: the War Correspondents Memorial Arch. It was the first monument in the world dedicated to journalists killed in combat; several similarly dedicated memorials have been raised since.[6] The arch is a National Historic Monument maintained by the National Park Service.[5]

Renovated in 1958, Gapland Hall is the park's visitors center and a museum for George Alfred Townsend ("Gath"), while Gapland Lodge has a museum depicting the battle at Crampton's Gap, which was fought just before the battle at Antietam.[4]

Visitors can also see the remnants of a mausoleum built for Townsend in 1895 but never used. Originally topped with the figure of a large bronze dog, only the chamber remains, the words "Good Night Gath" inscribed on its marble lintel.[5]

The park also hosts Civil War encampments and interactive "living history" weekends that demonstrate life in the 19th century.


  1. 1 2 "Gathland State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. "Fiscal Year 2016 DNR Owned Lands Acreage" (PDF). Maryland Department of Natural Resources. July 29, 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 18, 2015. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  3. "Gathland State Park". Protected Planet. IUCN. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  4. 1 2 "Gathland State Park". Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 "Gathland State Park History". Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  6. A tree in Arlington National Cemetery was dedicated as a war correspondents' memorial in 1986 (see War Correspondents Memorial Arlington National Cemetery). Two other prominent U.S. monuments broadly commemorating journalists killed in combat or otherwise in the line of duty are the Overseas Press Club Memorial Press Center building in New York City which was dedicated in 1954 (see President Dwight D. Eisenhower: Remarks Recorded for the Dedication of the Memorial Press Center) and the Journalists Memorial at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.. A Journalists Memorial with a similar broad dedication and purportedly the first of its kind in Europe was inaugurated by Reporters Without Borders in Bayeux, France in 2007 (see The French town of Bayeux and Reporters Without Borders inaugurate a journalists memorial on the eve of World Freedom Day).
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