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Preserve America is a national initiative in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; the U.S. Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Education; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities; and the President's Council on Environmental Quality.

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Preserve America Community:
Oakland, Maryland

Oakland, Maryland (population 1,930), county seat of Garrett County, was founded in 1849 and prospered with the coming of the railroad in the early 1850s. The new rail network made it profitable to exploit Garrett County’s natural resources, and Oakland became a commercial hub in the shipment of coal and lumber.

A juggler entertains people sitting near a gazebo.The B&O Railroad was also instrumental in promoting Oakland and nearby areas as tourist destinations, building a series of resort hotels in the 1870s and 1880s.

With the advent of the automobile, however, these railroad-oriented resorts fell out of favor after only a few decades. This change, coupled with the decline of both the timber and coal industries, led to decades of economic decline.

Today, however, economic diversification is helping reinvigorate Oakland, and heritage tourism is playing an important role. The City of Oakland has adopted the Garrett County Heritage Plan, which was prepared as a first step toward county application as a State heritage area.

Oakland also is actively participating in the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, non-profit based, multi-State heritage tourism initiative. An important new heritage tourism site and a focal point of Oakland’s downtown revitalization is the rehabilitated B&O Railroad Station (1884). The Queen Anne-style structure is now a museum, visitor center, and retail venue for local artisans. The station is featured on the Coal Heritage Tour Maryland Scenic Byway.

Elsewhere in the community, interpretive historic markers have been installed, and part of Second Street has been designated a local preservation district to protect its 19th-century Victorian homes.

For more information

Greater Oakland Business Association: www.oaklandmd.com

Garrett County Chamber of Commerce: www.garrettchamber.com

Posted April 23, 2009

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