The Deep Creek Lake experience is an opportunity to slow down and enjoy a more relaxing pace. This slower way of enjoying life is part of the attraction and charm of our mountain resort. Those new to the lake area may not know it, but at one time both locals and visitors alike were actually required to slow down. It all depended on the route you chose to drive from one end of the lake to the other.
When the lake was constructed in the 1920s, travel by car was a luxury that not everyone had the opportunity to enjoy. To get to this area, most visitors arrived by steam train at the B&O station in Oakland and utilized local transportation along the winding gravel “State Road” (Route 219) north. The damming of Deep Creek in the 1920s blocked some local roads and new bridges were required to keep some of them open. Several long steel arch truss bridges were needed to span the lake. Construction on these new bridges was completed before the lake was flooded. Three steel structures were eventually built - along the State Road crossing the center of the lake, the Glendale (Road) Bridge at “Cat Rocks”, and finally a much later and smaller bridge over Meadow Mountain Run near the state park.
Back then, the typical Ford or Chevrolet required less roadway than today’s cars. The new bridges incorporated lightweight see-through steel grid bridge decking and lanes that were, at the time, thought to be wide enough. The design allowed motorists to pass each other freely across the bridges as they drove through and around the lake.
The old State Road bridge had wider lanes then did the Glendale Bridge and, except for the occasional big load, traffic usually flowed relatively freely north and south. However, the Glendale Road bridge was designed with a much narrower deck and it often had short backups during the summer months. As cars became bigger and faster, courtesy and patience was required after motorists learned that the Glendale Bridge could now only accommodate one-way traffic. New rules of the road developed, i.e. whoever dared to start across the bridge first ruled the road. Being courteous and waiting did have its benefits, mostly being the chance to enjoy the sweeping views across the lake south to Turkey Neck or north to Marsh Mountain.
It was customary to wave at or politely greet the waiting car as you passed them at the other end and they then took their turn to cross the bridge. Still, confrontations occasionally occurred when drivers did not know or understand the rule. Many a visitor’s boat or camping trailer needed to be backed rom the Glendale Bridge after having started partway across.
As the Glendale Bridge aged, it developed its infamous but endearing “kablam, rumble, rumble, rumble” sound effect as cars moved across it, a sound that could be heard fairly far away late at night. Especially if one was camping at the state park.
Both bridges grew old gracefully and were eventually replaced with today’s structures. The State Highway Administration replaced the State Road/Route 219 bridge in 1986. The site of its southern abutment can still be seen at the DNR fishing area adjacent to the new bridge. The Glendale Bridge stubbornly held on for another 11 years, eventually succumbing to deterioration and neglect in 1997.
As a fond and fitting farewell to the slower life, a handful of locals held an impromptu celebration and dance on the old Glendale Bridge just before its demolition. A final memorial to times gone by and to the many memories made waiting for others to cross.