Montgomery County Timeline


1620 – Henry Fleet arrived in the Potomac to trade with the Indians and, traveling as far as Great Falls, gave the first written description of the land.

1688 – Henry Darnell patented the first tract of land in what was to become Montgomery County. Called “Girl’s Portion,” Darnell’s tract was on the east side Rock Creek.

1711 – Baron von Graffenreid, a Swiss explorer, crossed this area, mapped the land and named Sugarloaf Mountain.

1748 – Frederick County – including present-day Montgomery County – was formed from the western part of Prince George’s County.

1755 – During the French and Indian War, General Edward Braddock led British troops through the area on his way to defeat at Fort Duquesne (in Pennsylvania). They camped at Owens’ Ordinary (now Rockville) and Dowden’s Ordinary (now Clarksburg).

1774 – Patriots of Lower Frederick County met at Hungerford’s Tavern (now Rockville) to protest British injustices to the colonies and to draft the “Hungerford Resolves.”

1776 –Thomas Sprigg Wootton introduced the bill in the State Assembly to form Montgomery County from the eastern part of Frederick County. This new county was named for General Richard Montgomery, an American officer recently killed at the Battle of Quebec.

1777 – The county seat was established at Williamsburg, now Rockville, but called Montgomery Court House on many maps.

1779 -The first court house was built.

1791 – Georgetown, the only port town in the county, was ceded to the Federal government to form part of the new District of Columbia.

1800-50 – The county experienced a decline in profitable agriculture due to over-planting, poor farming methods, and westward migration of farm labor. Prosperity returned when farmers, led by the Quakers of the Sandy Spring area, began to improve farming methods by using fertilizer, crop rotation, and new machinery.

1803 – The name of the county seat was changed to Rockville, most likely in honor of nearby Rock Creek.

1814 – During the last year of the War of 1812, retreating troops from the Battle of Bladensburg – as well as government officials and citizens fleeing the burning of Washington by British troops – found refuge in the county. President James Madison spent two nights in Brookeville.

1828 – Construction began on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, improving transportation along the Potomac River (which, thanks to Great Falls, was not navigable).

1840 – The old court house in Rockville was replaced by a new brick building.

1846 – The Montgomery County Agricultural Society was organized to promote improvements in farming. They held the first county fair, in Rockville.

1860 – A free public school system was established for the first time, with William Henry Farquhar as superintendent.

1861-65 – During the Civil War both Union and Confederate troops passed through the county several times. Union forces occupied various camps to guard against river crossings, but raids and skirmishes were the extent of military action.  Nevertheless, the war affected county residents in many – and lasting – ways.

1873 – The Metropolitan Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad began service, with 30 stops in the county. This led to the development of suburban resorts and communities along the line, as well as improved transportation for farm products.

1890 – The first streetcar line ran from Tenallytown (Tenleytown) to Bethesda Park.  This line was later extended to Rockville, and it was followed by other lines serving other communities and attractions (including the amusement park at Glen Echo).

1891 – The third court house, now called “The Red Brick Courthouse” (still standing) was erected in Rockville.

1916 -The first major hospital in the county, now Montgomery General Hospital, was established by Dr. Jacob W. Bird.

1917 – A draft for World War I began and the first 40 men reported for duty in September. The National Guard was activated, a unit of 84 men and 3 officers, which became Company K, 115th Infantry, 29th Division. The commanding officer, Col. E. Brooke Lee, returned from the war and became a political power in the county.

1918 – The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), a bi-county organization, was formed to provide water and sewer service in much of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

1922 – A police department was created consisting of a chief and five patrolmen. Prisoners were held in an old stone jail, built in 1801, located where the Stella Werner County Office Building in Rockville is today.

1927 – The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), another bi-county agency, was formed to plan and guide orderly growth and development in the two counties.

1931 – The fourth courthouse, built of grey stone next door to the 1891 red brick building, was erected; it is still used by the District Court.

1932 – The Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market was organized to enable farm women to sell their products, easing some of the financial burdens faced by families during the Great Depression.

1935 – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) moved to the county, on property donated by Mr. and Mrs. Luke I. Wilson, and became the largest employer in this area.

1945 – Returning World War II veterans were an important factor in the unprecedented growth of the homebuilding industry in suburban areas.

1946 – Montgomery Junior College, now Montgomery College, began classes at night at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. It has expanded to three campuses in Rockville, Takoma Park and Germantown.

1948 – A home rule charter was adopted, allowing for a council form of county government, making Montgomery the first county in Maryland to establish a charter form of government.

1950s – New interstate attracted business and residential development.

1957 – The county participated in the formation of the Metropolitan Council of Governments (COG), an organization composed of 16 local governments in order to address mutual problems.

1960 – Wheaton Plaza, the first regional mall in the county, opened for business.

1964 – The circumferential highway I-495, familiarly called “The Beltway,” was completed; a general plan for development was adopted on the concept of “wedges and corridors” for roads, green space and buildings.

1968 – Construction was approved for the Metro Rapid Rail system with 12 stations in the county. Silver Spring and Takoma Park opened in 1976; the current ending stops on the Red line, Shady Grove and Glenmont, were completed in 1984 and 1998 respectively.

1976 – Montgomery County celebrated the Bicentennials of both the county and the nation.

1982 – A new Judicial Center (the fifth courthouse for the county) and Executive Office Building were dedicated.

1990 – The county council was expanded from seven to nine members.

1997 – For the first time since 1791, county boundaries changed; the border was expanded to incorporate the part of Takoma Park that had previously been in Prince George’s County.

1999 – The Montgomery County Commission of the Celebration 2000 was formed to plan for the millennium.