The centennial of Crain Highway prompts a celebration in Prince George’s County

Press notice: “We are excited and proud to bring people together to re-create the photo that was taken 100 years ago,” said Upper Marlboro Town Clerk John Hoatson, who is organizing the Oct. 1 festivities. (The photo session is scheduled for 11 am.) “We hope everyone who attends will feel a tremendous sense of pride in the role that Upper Marlboro played as a catalyst for transportation and trade in the Southern Maryland region of our state.”

The 1922 celebration and parade forever changed Upper Marlboro and its future. The Merchants and Manufacturers Association of Baltimore had decided that Southern Maryland was an important location for bringing produce and other agricultural items north to the city and its port. The association and political figures in Southern Maryland created a route that connected Baltimore to Southern Maryland counties.

In September 1922, a train brought members of the association, the Mayor of Baltimore and hundreds of Baltimoreans onto Upper Marlboro’s Main Street for the celebration. Albert C. Ritchie, then-governor of Maryland was there, along with W. F. Broening, then Mayor of Baltimore, and Robert Crain, for whom Crain Highway was named. In the panoramic photo that recorded the event, the Crain monument can be seen.

From the archives: Robert Crain was a farmer in Charles County and a lawyer in Baltimore and Washington. He served as legal counsel for the United States Brewers’ Association against Prohibition. He was active in the Democratic Party as a fund-raiser and as a delegate to some of the party’s national conventions including that held in Baltimore, but he never ran for public office. He was a trustee of the Maryland College of Agriculture (later the University of Maryland). He dreamed of building a road between Baltimore and Southern Maryland and led the fight to secure a state appropriation for the road. In 1927 he oversaw the completion of the “Robert Crain Highway.” At his death his body was interred at Crain Cemetery at the Crain Farm in Mount Victoria, Maryland.

Robert Crain Highway was originally a narrow, twisted dirt path passable only by horse-drawn vehicles. It was improved with $1.25 million from the Maryland legislature to complete a better road. On Oct. 22, 1927, Robert Crain Highway opened for the first time, thus greatly improving trade between Baltimore and the southern Maryland counties.

For more information, visit the town’s website or call the town offices at 301-627-6905.

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