James H. Gambrill Jr.

Gambrill State Park was named after James H. Gambrill Jr. (1866 – 1951) a prominent resident of Frederick City who had long-lasting influence on the business, farming, and environmental affairs of our county. Upon completion of school at Frederick City College, Mr. Gambrill embarked on a career in grain milling. This career path led to a move to Alabama where Mr. Gambrill got first-hand experience in marketing and transportation of grains and farm crops. Upon returning to the county in 1893 Mr. Gambrill continued his career in the grain industry, partnering with others to establish G.L Baking and Mountain City Mills. In 1902 Mr. Gambrill helped establish the Frederick County Farmers Exchange, a cooperative that marketed grain, flour, livestock feed, and farm tools. Other businesses that Mr. Gambrill started or helped incorporate include the Post Publishing Company, Woodsboro Mining Company and the Linganore Copper Company. A newspaper article on Mr. Gambrill characterized him as having clear vision and sound judgment. The reporter added, “ Believing in honesty not as policy but as a principle Mr. Gambrill’s affairs have been conducted along the lines of utmost integrity.”

Gambrill Family

Credit: Frederick News-Post

In addition to his business activities, James Gambrill served as a Frederick City Alderman for one term and was a long-time member of Hood College’s Board of Directors. Mr. Gambrill enjoyed visiting the rugged mountains just west of the city for recreation or just to admire their beauty. In an effort to preserve this beauty and make it available to the public, Mr. Gambrill convinced some of his associates in the business community to help him purchase this land and donate it to the City of Frederick. About a year after receiving this donation, the City of Frederick donated the land to the State of Maryland, and on September 7, 1934 Gambrill State Park was dedicated. Mr. Gambrill continued his efforts to preserve mountain land for watershed and conservation values and was instrumental in the development of the Frederick City watershed. Today Gambrill State Park and the Frederick City Watershed exist in part as a result of Mr. Gambrill’s foresight and effort.

Article by Ginny Brace, FCFCDB member

Nature Notes for 6/23/2013