Fort Ritchie

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Fort Ritchie
eponym: Albert Ritchie
Part of United States Army
Washington County, Maryland
Fort Ritchie barracks MD1.jpg
Finger Buildings on Barrick Avenue
Coordinates39°42′02″N 77°30′10″W / 39.70056°N 77.50278°W / 39.70056; -77.50278Coordinates: 39°42′02″N 77°30′10″W / 39.70056°N 77.50278°W / 39.70056; -77.50278
Site history
In use1926-1998
Battles/warsWorld War II, Cold War
Garrison information
Past
commanders
Colonel Butz

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.

History[edit]

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.[1]

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.[2]

It was controlled by the Maryland National Guard from 1926–1942;[3] the US Army activated the Military Intelligence Training Center (MITC) on June 19, 1942, and trained 19,600 intelligence troops, including the Ritchie Boys.[2] Support for Raven Rock Mountain Complex transferred to Fort Detrick on October 1, 1997.[citation needed]

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.[4] 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.[citation needed]

Since then, the PenMar Board worked to have Fort Ritchie designated as a "sustainable community" by the State of Maryland which qualified the property for tax advantages and grants. The property had been cleaned up and a new project manager was 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 were being explored which would create a mix of uses that would include residential, commercial, recreational, and some light office/industrial uses.[4]

Ultimately, PenMar fell into financial ruin and the grounds was returned to the Washington County government which generally viewed the site as a financial loss. In an attempt to stop the monetary hemorrhaging, several members of the Washington County government travelled to South Korea in connection with a contractor called JGBLI which secured approximately 60 acres of ground on the opposing side of Lake Royer for development. The manner in which that land was transferred is highly controversial, with many residents and politicians citing violations of Maryland's public meeting laws. Many Cascade residents who had lived on the site for decades were forced to move despite the fact that their homes were not directly affected by the sale. After many failed attempts to come to an agreement on how the premises would be developed, JGBLI backed out of the total purchase of Fort Ritchie. Following this, several individuals came forward in an attempt to secure the grounds for themselves including a vineyard owner from Potomac, Maryland and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Ultimately, in 2020 Fort Ritchie was sold to John Krumpotich, a local resident, for the cost of 1.5 million dollars. Krumpotich has made statements to the effect that he would like to preserve most of the Fort while making some of the property mixed use development in order to breathe life back into the quiet mountain town.

In March of 2020, a lawsuit was filed against the county government and Krumpotich by a property investor from Frederick County, Maryland. A court ruled in favor of Krumpotich and the county, however an appeal was filed. As of June 30, 2020, the transfer of the property to Krumpotich has been further delayed due to an appeal. According to a news article in local news outlet Herald-Mail Media, "A Washington County official said Tuesday that resolving litigation affecting the sale of the former Fort Ritchie Army base should be wrapped up within a year, possibly sooner." [5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Library of Congress: Historic American Engineering Record, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Ritchie, Upper Lake Dam, HAER No. MD - 104
  2. ^ a b Roberts, Angelica (June 30, 2008). "Fort Ritchie has storied history". Herald Mail. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  3. ^ "Fort Ritchie BRAC/Environmental Impact Statement". Archived from the original on November 21, 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  4. ^ a b Sherman, Natalie (August 8, 2014). "Years after Fort Ritchie opened for redevelopment, base remains shuttered". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  5. ^ https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/local/fort-ritchie-sale-could-be-held-up-for-months/article_1410022c-39c7-5ff3-be32-99ceef7b931b.html

External links[edit]