What is Heritage Montgomery?
The Heritage Tourism Alliance of Montgomery County (Heritage Montgomery) was established by State legislations in 2003 as part of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and became a Certified Heritage Area in 2004. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Heritage Montgomery was created by State officials and county leaders to raise the profile of the area’s heritage, ensuring that residents and visitors alike understand and value the county’s past. With a history stretching back beyond colonial times, Montgomery County has a long heritage evidenced by rich cultural and historical resources. As the area’s population has exploded, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of heritage programs and a higher profile for the history and heritage resources of the county. We want to encourage visitors to become local tourists and entice visitors to explore the county – to stay longer and return more often.
Four themes define the unique and distinctive features of Montgomery County’s heritage area:
Rivers, Roads, & Rails
The C&O Canal along the Potomac River and the Metropolitan Branch of the B&O Railroad running through significant late-1800s communities are the focus of this themed area. Highlights include Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, and Glen Echo, a classic trolley line amusement park. Extraordinary engineering feats can be seen all along the Canal, in particular, the 1833 Monocacy Aqueduct near Dickerson, and outdoor recreation opportunities abound.
Crossroads & Cultures
African American and Quaker Heritage
Montgomery County’s rich and diverse cultural histories are represented across the heritage area. Sandy Spring, a long-established Quaker community, was home to one of the earliest free black communities in the country. Many homes in the area are believed to have been part of the Underground Railroad network aiding runaway slaves in the 1800s. Throughout the county, post-Civil War churches, community buildings, cemeteries, and schools pay tribute to the dedication and strength of their founding families. The historic Woodlawn Barn Visitor Center in Sandy Spring is a great starting point for your tour.
The Agricultural Reserve
Farms, Markets, & Scenic Byways
The 93,000-acres of protected farmland in the western part of the county is one of the most successful countryside preservation programs in the U.S. The “Ag Reserve” showcases beautiful vistas, winding country roads, historic buildings, pick-your-own farms, and farmers markets. The town of Poolesville, a farming center since the 1700s, anchors the area.
Montgomery County’s Past
Scattered throughout the heritage area, these sites represent the unique stories of history, culture, and nature found in Montgomery County, from historic houses to Civil War sites to parks and theatres.
As a non-profit organization sustained primarily through State and county grant funding, Heritage Montgomery has brought over $2 million in State grants to county organizations. In addition, HM awards $20,000 in Mini-Grant funding to local non-profits and government entities each year. Heritage Montgomery’s signature program, Heritage Days, a free, countywide event, is held annually on the last weekend of June when over 40 sites are open to the public.