Tuckahoe State Park is a public recreation area located on Catoctin Mountain in Frederick County, Maryland. The state park has scenic views of the city of Frederick and the surrounding areas. It is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Many of these facilities are available to visitors to this day. The park offers miles of trails open year round for walking, jogging, bicycling, and ski touring. Visitors can enter the historic Civilian Conservation Corps camp at the summit of Half Dome, the tallest peak in the region at over 6,500 feet (2,000m).
The park features three group campsites, four picnic shelters, six equestrian campsites, eight tent sites, and seven rustic cabins. Modern restrooms and showers are provided throughout the park. The park store sells firewood, ice, food, drink, clothing, and basic camping supplies. The visitor center/marina complex contains conference rooms, a restaurant, gas station, gift shop, boat dock, and bait & tackle shop. Marina store items not offered for sale at the park include fuel, lubricants, and industrial supplies. Boat storage facilities are provided nearby.
The park provides watercraft rentals for canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boating. Canoes may also be rented all summer long. Boats are available for hourly, half-day, daily, multi-day, and overnight uses. Rental boats include Paddle Boats, Kayaks, Canoes, Single Kayaks, and Pedal Boats. Half Dome Overlook is accessible via bike trail, footpath, or auto tour route. The park has five parking lots, offering easy access for drivers coming from Interstate 66. I-66 intersects with US 50 at Exit 38, providing additional east coast access. Access for westbound travelers using the Capital Beltway is made easier by leaving I-66 at exit 37, following signs to US 50, then continuing 15 miles (24km) farther north on Route 28.
Tuckahoe receives nearly 640,000 visitors annually. According to the Sierra Club, Tuckahoe ranked fifth overall among Maryland parks based on a 2008 survey of residents’ preferences. Among respondents who identified a favorite park, Tuckahoe was selected second most often, behind only Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Tuckahoe’s natural setting and recreational amenities make it suitable for many different types of outdoor events, including weddings, reunions, birthday parties, company picnics, barbecues, holiday events, and church services.
Because of the large number of people who visit each year, special permits must sometimes be obtained in order to hold certain events at the park. These permit requirements vary depending on the event being held. Some examples include: All wedding receptions must have a valid marriage license from any jurisdiction. Permits are $10 per vehicle per night. Receptions are usually scheduled for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. If you would like your reception to take place on a weekday evening, we do offer a twilight ceremony option. This allows guests to enjoy dinner, dancing, and celebration without the pressure of having to leave before daylight.
In May 1774, Captain John Alexander, Jr., an American officer in the Continental Army, was ordered to patrol the area along the Potomac River and its tributary Rock Run; his orders were to prevent any British or Indian raids during the American Revolutionary War. On June 27, 1774, while returning from such a patrol, he and his force of 13 men were attacked by a party of 20 Native Americans under the leadership of Chief Logan (a Mingo leader). Although outnumbered, Lt. Alexander and 10 of his men fought off the attack, killing 4 Indians and taking captive 8 women and 3 children. This incident became known as the “St. Marys Raid” because it took place near St. Mary’s Church in town.
Following this action, Lt. Alexander and 2 men returned to camp with the 11 survivors, including one woman who had given birth at the time of the raid. She soon died, however, from exposure suffered in the battle. Her name was later bestowed upon the mountain pass where she gave birth, which remains unnamed today. For his actions that day, Lieutenant Alexander was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government for bravery in combat. He was also promoted to full colonel and given command of the 12th Regiment of Foot, which he led into several major battles during the war. After the Revolution, Colonel Alexander settled down in what is now the City of Frederick, where he married twice and started a family.
One of his sons, George Washington Alexander, served in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first president of the Bank of the United States. Another son, Robert Erskine Alexander, was named after Robert Erskine, Lord Advocate General of Scotland and Secretary of State for Scotland in 1782. Born on April 7, 1754, in London, England, Alexander emigrated to America with his wife and two daughters in 1791. His son, Robert Erskine Alexander, was born in 1795. They landed in Baltimore, then moved to St. Marys, Georgia, in 1802. There they built their home, which still stands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Alexanders remained in Georgia until 1812 when they moved back to St. Marys. Four years later, in 1816, John Alexander, Sr., sold the plantation to settle permanently in Frederick. He bought 160 acres (0.6km2) and began farming. Two years later he purchased another 120 acres (0.49km2), and eventually expanded the operation to 250 acres (1.0km2). He leased 100 acres (0.40km2) to William Poole Bancroft, who operated a dairy farm there until his death in 1925. When Bancroft’s heirs tried to sell the land, it was purchased in 1931 by the county for use as a park.
The deed declared that the property was to be used for “parks, boulevard, or highway purposes only.” That restriction was ignored almost immediately, and Tuckahoe Road was widened and realigned in preparation for automobile traffic in 1935. A new road through the forest was completed in 1938, and the old road was finally abandoned in 1939. Land gifts increased the park to more than 1,000 acres (4.0km2). During World War II, Tuckahoe was utilized as a prisoner-of-war camp, housing German POWs between 1944 and 1946.
Recreational opportunities include:
- horseback riding
- cross country skiing
- and picnicking
- sports competitions
- wildlife observation