Bugle Call

Experience the Hagerstown Cultural Trail and Its Historic Heritage this Summer

August 28, 2017

Washington County Recreation Main Streets

Experience the Hagerstown Cultural Trail and Its Historic Heritage this Summer

Experience the Heritage Area in a new way this year with the opening of the Hagerstown Cultural Trail. This innovative outdoor attraction —  featuring a Mural of Unusual Size, the Faces of Hagerstown photography exhibit, whimsical outdoor sculptures, and more — links the City of Hagerstown’s downtown Arts & Entertainment District to City Park and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. With plenty of Civil War and 19th century history to experience along the way, guests can pair a visit to Antietam National Battlefield with a journey down the cultural trail. 

Located near the entrance of the Cultural Trail in downtown Hagerstown’s Public Square are Civil War Trail markers about the First and Second Battles of Hagerstown. On July 6, 1863, Union cavalry fought in the streets of Hagerstown as Lee was retreating to the Potomac River. Union soldiers sought to clear the town of Confederate defenders, but did not initially succeed. Six days later, General George A. Custer seized the town.

After learning about the Battles of Hagerstown, hop on the cultural trail at West Antietam Street just a block from Public Square. Designed to connect Hagerstown’s history to its cultural identity today, the trail features decorative screens by artist Vicki Scuri, from Seattle Washington. The screens’ design resembles the railroads that made Hagerstown an industrial hub in the 19th century. The plasma-cut screens invoke the busy railroad yards of the town while providing a backdrop for a sculpture garden along the trail. 

Scuri’s art focuses on “community identity through awareness of place, history and culture” and she specializes in “infrastructure as public place, because infrastructure, best symbolized as the backbone of urban design, is the system upon which society builds its core values, creating meaning, mobility and connectivity,” according to the Cultural Trail web site.

Other notable attractions along the trail include an 80-foot mural featuring splashes of bright primary colors along four city buildings and the Faces of Hagerstown photography exhibit displaying black and white candid images of residents. 

The cultural trail ends at City Park and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, known as one of the finest small museums in the nation. The museum’s collections feature more than 6,500 works of art including paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and decorative arts. The Smith Gallery of 19th Century American art includes work by Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Thomas Moran and others. 

Conclude the day in downtown Hagerstown, with a tour of Rose Hill Cemetery on South Potomac Street, about a three-minute drive from the museum. After the Battle of Antietam, soldiers were buried at Antietam National Cemetery, however it was instructed that Confederate soldiers not be buried alongside the Union soldiers. Consequently, Confederate soldiers were buried in trenches in various locations and the graves were poorly maintained. In 1874, 2,468 Confederate soldiers began to be moved to Washington Confederate Cemetery in Rose Hill Cemetery. A self-guided tour is available for visitors to learn more about the cemetery and the process to identify the soldiers. 

For information on other Civil War heritage sites and the Cultural Trail in downtown Hagerstown check out VisitHagerstown.com.

Images provided by the City of Hagerstown.

Amanda Johnston

Contributing Author: Amanda Johnston

With more than 15 years as a nonprofit professional, Amanda Johnston serves as the Executive Director of the Fort Detrick Alliance. In her career, Amanda has served as the assistant director at the Historical Society of Frederick County, the marketing manager at the National Shrine of Saint... Read More