eponym: Albert Ritchie
|Part of United States Army|
|Washington County, Maryland|
Barracks in 2019
|Battles/wars||World War II, Cold War|
Fort Ritchie at Cascade, Maryland was a military installation southwest of Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania and southeast of Waynesboro in the area of South Mountain. Following the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, it closed in 1998.
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About 1889, the Buena Vista Ice Company of Philadelphia purchased 400 acres of the land where Fort Ritchie now stands. The company planned to cut natural ice from a manmade lake and ship it to Baltimore, Washington, and southern markets via the Western Maryland Railroad's Baltimore-Hagerstown line. The first artificial lake was built in approximately 1901 and named Lake Royer (the "Lower Lake").
A railroad spur off the Western Maryland line was built alongside the southeastern shore of Lake Royer. Unfortunately, the locomotives' exhaust laid soot on the ice in the lake, so a second artificial lake (the "Upper Lake) was constructed far enough away from the track so that the ice would remain clean for cutting. The Buena Vista Ice Company's Lake Royer also served as a recreational spot during the summer tourist season. Demand for natural ice declined over the years, and the Buena Vista Ice Company discontinued operations at the site.
In 1926, the Maryland National Guard investigated several locations in searching for a new summer training camp. A decision in favor of the ice company property was primarily based upon its proximity to the Western Maryland railway and the telegraph line.
It was controlled by the Maryland National Guard from 1926–1942; the US Army activated the Military Intelligence Training Center (MITC) on June 19, 1942, and trained 19,600 intelligence troops, including the Ritchie Boys. Support for Raven Rock Mountain Complex transferred to Fort Detrick on October 1, 1997.
Fort Ritchie closed in 1998 under the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The property was sold to Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) for mixed-use development. As the 2007 Recession pressed on, PenMar Development Corporation took back ownership of the property in 2012.
Since then the PenMar Board has worked to have Fort Ritchie designated as a "sustainable community" by the State of Maryland which qualifies the property for tax advantages and grants. The property has been cleaned up and a new project manager has been hired to market the property in an effort to bring back some of the jobs lost when the Army departed. Several alternative uses for the property are being explored which would create a mix of uses that would include residential, commercial, recreational, and some light office/industrial uses.
Fort Ritchie housed a military preparatory academy under the direction of Dr. Robert Alexander; National Role Models Academy also known as College Corps 2000-02.
- Library of Congress: Historic American Engineering Record, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Ritchie, Upper Lake Dam, HAER No. MD - 104
- Roberts, Angelica (June 30, 2008). "Fort Ritchie has storied history". Herald Mail. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
- "Fort Ritchie BRAC/Environmental Impact Statement". Archived from the original on November 21, 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
- Sherman, Natalie (August 8, 2014). "Years after Fort Ritchie opened for redevelopment, base remains shuttered". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. MD-104, "U.S. Army Garrison Fort Ritchie, Upper Lake Dam, Fort Ritchie Military Reservation, Cascade, Washington County, MD", 8 photos, 11 data pages, 2 photo caption pages
- HAER No. MD-105, "U.S. Army Garrison Fort Ritchie, Lower Lake Dam", 9 photos, 13 data pages, 2 photo caption pages