Postcard: Mountain Lake Park

In 1905, Mr. T. Emlyn Moore of Grampian, Pennsylvania, received a postcard outlining the enjoyable time that was had in Mountain Lake Park, a town found in Garrett County just a few miles away from Oakland.

The postcard, featuring a photo of the Hotel Chautauqua, read: “First day, five o’clock just got home from meeting. Listened to a fine paper on the Quaker poet. I hope you are all well & feeling as happy as I.”

Mountain Lake Park was established in 1881 by a group of Methodist ministers, according to the National Register of Historic Places website. The group decided the location was the perfect place to start a summer resort “founded upon Christian principles and designed to afford opportunities for Religious and Literary Instruction and healthful recreation,” according to the town’s website, and, that year, 800 acres were purchased for $4,672.

According to the National Register Form, “[a]mong the cultural programs offered in Mountain Lake Park was the ‘Mountain Chautauqua,’ which blended religious revivalism with cultural and educational activities. In its heyday between the 1880s and World War I, this program attracted thousands to the community for symphonies, operas, plays and nationally prominent speakers including President Taft, Samuel Gompers, William Jennings Bryan and Billy Sunday.”

In July 1905, the same year the postcard was sent to Mr. Moore, the Baltimore Sun described Mountain Lake Park’s founding. “Mountain Lake Park began its existence some years ago as a camp-meeting resort on the top of the Alleghany Mountains, in a very humble way, and from the very beginning it achieved success.”

A month later, in August 1905, the Cumberland Evening Times reported: “Mountain Lake Park is enjoying one of the most successful seasons we have seen. … As a resort combining all the advantages of every other mountain resort with the intellectual treats thrown in the park is being more and more appreciated.”

The decline of the resort can be attributed to a variety of factors, according to the National Register Form, including the rise in popularity in automobile travel, the discontinuation of the B&O Railroad’s hotels nearby in the 1910s, and the decline of the Chautauqua programs in the 1920s and 1930s. The last Mountain Chautauqua program in the town was hosted in 1941, according to the National Register Form.

Mountain Lake Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Today the town, which now is more of a residential area than tourist attraction, consists of 1,280 acres, according to the town website, and has an assessed value of more than $100 million.

Sources: The Baltimore Sun, July 4, 1905; The Cumberland Evening Times, August 9, 1905; Town of Mountain Lake Park website; National Register of Historic Places website

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