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Meyersdale and Vicinity

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Meyersdale is laid out on two grids spreading north and south of Flaugherty Creek east of the Casselman River. It was the site of such early rural industries as Andrew Borntrager's gristmill of 1789. In 1815, Jacob Meyers Jr. bought land in the area, and erected a fulling mill and a gristmill. Five of his brothers from Lancaster County followed him and farmed in the area, which became known as Meyers' Mills. The borough's name was changed to Meyersdale in 1871, the same year that the Pittsburgh and Connellsville rail line came through the town. The frame hipped-roof Meyersdale depot at Meyers Avenue and Chestnut Street was built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O), after it purchased the line in 1875. Forty years later, the Western Maryland Railroad built a second rail line through the eastern edge of town. Rail accessibility encouraged the growth of logging and mining companies, notably the Keystone Coal and Coke Company (founded in 1872), as well as dairy farming and maple sugar harvesting. Logging companies sold lumber to the coal companies in prepackaged bundles large enough to build a single house, and the Meyersdale Planing Mill provided lumber for much of the local housing and both railroad stations. The area was logged out by the 1920s, but coal mining has continued. As late as the 1990s, nearly one million tons of coal were extracted per year from Somerset County.

The success of the various industries spawned a comfortable middle class, whose frame and brick Queen Anne and Colonial Revival houses line Broadway Street and Meyers Avenue. The large, stone First Methodist Church and manse at 336 Main Street was built in two sections, the first in 1873 and the second in 1903, coinciding with the two periods of growth in Meyersdale's history. The Meyersdale Banking House, now Citizen's National Bank (141 Center Street) has two parts: a two-story, three-bay brick Greek Revival house with Italianate trimmings (1869), and an attached four-story building (1904) with rough-cut stone on the first story and brickwork above. The Greek Revival Gallatin National Bank (1909) at Main and Center streets has Ionic columns at the entrance.

Reputed to be the oldest house in Meyersdale, the Meyer's House (124 Meyers Avenue) began as a one-story log house built c. 1785 by early gristmill owner Andrew Borntrager. The six-bay frame addition and the second story above the log house–kitchen were added c. 1820, and ten years later, the present horizontal siding unified the whole, masking the various ages of the rooms. The house and mill were purchased by Peter Meyer in 1827. It is open to the public during the Pennsylvania Maple Festival held in April every year.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Lu Donnelly et al.

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