Famous Travelers: Edison, Ford, Firestone The Vagabonds Continue Two Week Camping Trip in Western Maryland

By Francis Champ Zumbrun

“Every man in his heart revolts at civilization and will revert back to [nature] if given half a chance…We don’t live long enough to find out what life is all about, but we know what civilization is – it is a mere veneer that keeps on getting thicker, but never too thick to pierce…It will be 15,000 years I think, before man will reach such a high point of civilization where he cannot and will not want to go back to [reconnect with nature].” – Thomas Edison at Muddy Creek Falls, Maryland. July 1921

 

This is the fourth in a series of articles covering a time in the summer of 1921, when Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone camped for two weeks in western Maryland. This article finds the vagabonds, a term the wealthy captains of industry called themselves when camping together, at “Camp Harding” along Licking Creek, about 6 miles east of Hancock, in Washington County, where they stayed from July 21 to July 27. From here they traveled to present day Swallow Falls State Park where they camped from July 27 to July 31.

 

After the outdoor memorial service for their friend, John Burroughs at Licking Creek on July 24, a luncheon was served. President Harding thanked everyone and assured them that he had a splendid time. At about 4:00 in the afternoon, after spending a little more than twenty-four hours with the vagabonds, President Harding and his large entourage of security guards and photographers returned to the White House.

 

The vagabonds enjoyed the campsite so much, that they decided to stay a few more days after the President left. They fished at the conjunction of Licking Creek and the Potomac River and studied the canal boats hauling coal on the C&O Canal. The industrialists concluded the river’s water power was not properly harnessed; if it was, they believed that the C&O Canal would not be needed.

 

“Houses could be heated and lighted and factories operated on cheap water power,” Ford told a newspaper reporter.

Read More Here:  http://dnr.maryland.gov/feature_stories/FamousTravelersPart4.asp


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