Keep Off the Grass

By Duane Doxzen | Posted on 07.16.14 – History, Timepiece

Summer is here, flowers are blooming and the grass is growing. Just keep it off the lawn in Carroll Park, circa 1910, or else be prepared to pay a hefty $5 fine.

Carroll Park was opened in 1907 by the City of Frederick along West Patrick Street, opposite Carroll Creek on the plot where the home of Civil War heroine Barbara Fritchie once stood, hence its colloquial name, “Barbara Fritchie Park.” The city had been trying to acquire the property since 1830 in order to utilize the natural spring located there. Known as Riehl’s Spring, it was used by locals since the 1700s for its seemingly endless supply of cold, clean refreshment.

In the early 20th century, especially, legends abounded of the spring being the location for everything from Native American treaty signing ceremonies to a watering hole for George Washington and patriotic militiamen.

The Barbara Fritchie Home Association, which was responsible for building the nearby recreation of the heroine’s home, installed the wooden canopy. The park itself welcomed residents and visitors for decades, though the  once-vibrant spring became little more than a trickle over the succeeding years.

By the 1980s the small pool of dirty water collecting in the spring pit had become a target for litterers. The spring was then redirected and became part of the Carroll Creek Linear Park project, which is intended to spare Frederick the worst of the periodic flooding that has devastated Downtown several times in its history.

The manicured grass that once bordered Carroll Creek has, for the most part, been replaced by pedestrian friendly pavement. Feel free to walk there without fear of a fine.