Gathland State Park

Trip Advisor

Key Information

Contact Info



900 Arnoldtown Rd, Jefferson, MD 21755, United States

Opening Hours

8 a.m. to sunset




Introduction of Gathland State Park

On South Mountain, close to Burkittsville, Maryland, the public recreation area and historic preservation known as Gathland State Park is situated. George Alfred Townsend (1841–1914), a war writer who used the pen name “Gath” during the American Civil War, once owned the property that is now a state park. The War Correspondents Memorial Arch, one of the estate’s few remaining original buildings, is located next to the Appalachian Trail. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources manages the park. The National Park Service looks after the arch as a National Historic Monument.

Gathland State Park
CC: Social Channel of park


Townsend purchased land near Crampton’s Gap in 1884. This was one of three gaps on South Mountain where the Battle of South Mountain, an early engagement in the Maryland Campaign, had been fought between Union and Confederate soldiers. Townsend bought the property to use as a hideaway, and he started planning the construction of Gapland right once. Gapland Hall, an eleven-room home that was his first undertaking, was constructed in 1885. Gapland Lodge, a stone servants’ quarters, followed it that year. Only the foundation and a few pieces of the enormous Den and Library Building, which was erected in 1890 and had a study, a library, and ten beds, are still visible today. Gapland was transferred three times after Townsend’s passing before being purchased by the Department of Forests and Parks and designated as a state park in 1949.


The War Correspondents Memorial Arch, which was finished by Townsend in 1896, is his most well-known and enduring creation. It was the first monument in the world to honour journalists slain in battle, and since then, numerous more equally devoted monuments have been built.
Gapland Lodge includes a museum representing the combat at Crampton’s Gap, which was fought soon before the engagement at Antietam, while Gapland Hall, which was renovated in 1958, is the park’s visitor centre and a museum commemorating George Alfred Townsend (also known as “Gath”).

The ruins of Townsend’s tomb, which was constructed in 1895 but was never utilised, are also visible to visitors. Only the room remains, with the words “Good Night Gath” carved on its marble lintel, where it was once topped with a statue of a huge bronze dog. 

The park also organises interactive “living history” weekends that depict life in the 19th century and Civil War encampments.

ruins in Gathland State Park
CC: Social Channel of park

Gathland State Park 


The Gathland State Park is traversed by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Visitors are welcome to travel the Appalachian Trail for a short distance or from Maine to Georgia.

Gathland State Park offers overnight parking for people who want to go on overnight backpacking trips. The Appalachian Trail is a solely pedestrian trail. The trails of Greenbrier State Park are accessible to mountain bikers.

The Arnoldstown Road parking lot accepts overnight parking for hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Take any valuables with you, please.

Gathland State Park Museums

Visitors to Gathland State Park may encounter several traces of George Alfred Townsend’s estate as they stroll about. Some of these include the ruins of his library and den, a barn, a mausoleum (which was supposed to be Townsend’s final resting place; nobody is actually buried there today), and the surrounding gardens. Additionally, the Battle of South Mountain, which took place here at what was then known as Cramptons Gap, is explained through markers spread out across the park.

Two unaltered structures hold museums. Townsend’s former primary house, Gath Hall, is now a museum that chronicles his life and writing career and features several artefacts from his time while living on the Gapland Estate. The history of war correspondents and their crucial function during the Civil War is also presented in an exhibit. Gath Lodge, the other building, has displays and relics related to the Battle of South Mountain. Visitors may take on the role of a war correspondent in the interactive displays at the museums, gathering facts and speaking with troops before writing their own account of the conflict.

Spring, summer, and fall are the times that the museums are open.


Gathland State Park Information


Gathland State Park is located in Washington and Frederick Counties, 1 mile west of Burkittsville, off MD Route 17.

Physical Address:
Gathland State Park
900 Arnoldstown Road
Jefferson MD 21755

Mailing Address:
c/o Greenbrier State Park
21843 National Pike
Boonsboro MD 21713


Driving Directions:
Gathland State Park is located in Washington and Frederick Counties, 1 mile west of Burkittsville, off MD Route 17.

Physical Address:
Gathland State Park
900 Arnoldstown Road
Jefferson MD 21755

Hours of Operation:
8 a.m. to sunset

Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours. Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.

Hunting Policy:
No Hunting
Hunting permitted in areas of adjacent South Mountain State Park

Pet Policy:
Pets are allowed in Gathland State Park.

Gathland State Park Photos

Gathland State Park Map