If you are traveling North or South through Frederick County, you are probably using a portion of the 38 mile Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway. Many of the stops along this route were created with road trippers in mind, located just a minute or two off of the highway. Use this guide to discover the great places to stop along Route 15!
With origins dating to the 1730's, this road was heavily utilized by early German immigrants heading from eastern Pennsylvania to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. As with all major transportation routes, lodging and dining came first in the form of taverns and ordinaries along the turnpike. Throughout the evolution of Frederick County's roadways, lodging, dining, and various other retail opportunities have grown to accommodate transportation improvements and greater numbers of travelers.
The roads paralleling Catoctin Mountain were utilized for Civil War troop movements. General Robert E. Lee and his Rebel army traveled north through the Carrollton Manor area of southern Frederick County en-route to occupying Frederick City in the Fall of 1862 (prior to the battles of South Mountain and Antietam). The next summer, Union soldiers would utilize the north county turnpike to reach the small hamlet of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. After intense days of fighting, dead and wounded from both sides were sent south on the roadway toward towns such as Emmitsburg, Thurmont, and Frederick.
In 1974, the State Highway Association approved the locally suggested idea to name the Frederick County portion of US 15 "Catoctin Mountain Highway." The entire length of the Maryland section of US 15 was designated as a Maryland Scenic Byway in 1999. Six years later, the Catoctin Mountain Scenic Byway (US 15) received national designation as one of America's Byways in 2005 from the National Scenic Byways Program.
The Catoctin Mountain National Scenic Byway traverses Maryland's "Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area" and is a primary route for carrying today's Civil War enthusiasts, historians and re-enactors to Frederick City and Gettysburg National Military Park. In addition, the Byway represents Maryland's portion of "The Journey Through Hallowed Ground," a 4-state heritage corridor stretching from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia north to Gettysburg.