Williamsport Maryland
“Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future”

Town of Williamsport MD

The town of Williamsport Maryland is located on the Potomac River, and became a center for American Indian travelers, fur traders, and settlers passing through. The Town Center is home to many unique shops and boutiques; it’s a shopping experience you can’t find anywhere else. Music, dance, sports, recreation and fun are some of Williamsport’s traditions.  The C&O Canal is a vital part of the Town of Williamsport. The canal towpath is excellent for cycling, running, walking and other recreational activities. Nearby the Town Center is Byron Memorial Park. In the spring, there are many family friendly events that take place in the park. Every year during the Christmas holiday season, the Town puts on an elaborate light show throughout the park.

History of Williamsport MD

Williamsport was a town of crossroads.  The Williamsport area, was located between the broad waters of the Potomac River and the Conococheague Creek. This was a natural pathway for our nation’s first inhabitants, the Native Americans. The Algoquins, Kruskaraw, Wassa, Womenkes, Iroquois, Delawares and Catawbas Indians passed through this area.  The first non-Native  Americans to record visits to the Williamsport area included Indian traders and included a young surveyor named George Washington

The first settlements took place during the late 1700s by families coming from Pennsylvania, many were German farmers who purchased small farms for raising wheat.  The many grain farms led to the building of many flour mills as well as many whiskey distilleries.

Williamsport was named after,  Brigadier General Otho Holland Williams, a Revolutionary War hero and compatriot of General George Washington. After the Revolutionary War he purchased large tracts of land to lay out a grand city of Williamsport on the Potomac.

As the young Nation expanded south and west, the need for better, faster means of transporting goods and people was critical.  The solution was creating canals, locks and aqueducts to carry boats filled with goods and coal. The C&O Canal brought a “boom” of prosperity to Williamsport. Warehouses, shipping firms, sawmills, small factories were established, and the town businesses and population expanded. Williamsport became a true “canal town” and its citizens earned the nickname of “River Rats”.

Williamsport’s strategic location made it an inevitable crossroads to battlefields for both the Union and Confederate armies.  Troops from both sides were ferried across the Potomac.  General Robert E. Lee crossed at Williamsport on his way to Gettysburg, after the Battle at Gettysburg, Lee’s army Retreated through Williamsport but was prevented from crossing into Virginia due to the heavy rains and remained in Williamsport for several days with over 400 wagons of wounded.

Williamsport recovered after the end of the Civil War, with the arrival of the Western Maryland Railroad line boosting industrial development in the area.  The population of the town grew, banks, stores, churches, schools, newspapers, and other community institutions also flourished during Williamsport’s most prosperous period due to the railroad.

Highlights of Williamsport Maryland

  • C & O Canal
  • Bryon Memorial Park
  • Springfield Farm
  • Polar Bear plunge
  • C & O Canal Days
  • WWII weekend
  • River Rat Day
  • Bike Night

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