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Good night Gath

July 21, 2010

A few days ago I mentioned that there was another post in the works about Gathland State Park.  Here you go!

Gath's mausoleum

Gathland State Park somewhere around Gapland, Maryland

George Alfred Townsend was Civil War journalist, a prominent figure in the coverage of the assassination of President Lincoln, and a published novelist.  Several years after the war, he took up residence in the mountains of Maryland, not far from where the Battle of South Mountain (aka the Battle of Boonsboro Gap) had been fought.  He built a grand estate for himself and his bride, as well as a pretty incredible (and, if I’m honest, quite strange) monument for war journalists.  It’s the first memorial to do so… and it’s pretty clear that he was not a professional monument designer.  He combined several different architectural styles to create an enormous wall – it looks like like the wall of a bizarre asymmetrical castle.  It’s certainly unique, and it’s quite lovely in its oddity.  You should look it up, because I don’t want to fill a post with pictures that aren’t of graves 😛

ANYBUTTS.  Old Georgie-boy’s nom de plume was Gath.  His initials, plus an H at the end making it a biblical reference (2Sam 1:20).  His estate was called Gapland because of the three surrounding Gaps where the South Mountain battle was fought – Crampton’s, Turner’s, and Fox’s Gaps.  But it was also called Gathland, because, well, that’s his name.  He was just that kind of guy, you know?  So these days, the town is called Gapland, but the park is called Gathland.

In addition to the huge war journalists monument and the numerous buildings and annexes that made up their home, servants’ quarters, etc., he also built a tomb.  I didn’t mean to take such a long time to get to that point, I swear.  He built a mausoleum for himself and his wife, but they were never buried there.  I don’t remember what happened to his wife, and the internet isn’t helping. Granted, I’m not looking very hard, because I’m sure it’s a boring story.  Gath’s story is the interesting one.  He built this mausoleum with a big bronze dog on top of it – presumably to guard their remains.  At some point the dog was stolen.  When Gath died, his daughter sold the estate.  He was buried in Philadelphia (which is where he spent his life prior to the war).

Okay, I’m done babbling.  I’m really bad at this; I need to stick to just photos for my posts.  But I couldn’t post this without the story!

Two more pictures for your trouble, then?

Gathland interior

Gath inscription

First two photos belong to Julia H, and the last one is from Natacia K.  I haven’t told you that I’m using your pictures, but thanks for letting me! 😛

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