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Crain Monument Centennial Celebration | Saturday | October 1, 2022


“People have driven or walked past this unique historic monument every day for the past 100 years, and probably didn’t know its true significance to our town, to the region, and to the state.”

UPPER MARLBORO, MD ( October. 2022) – A steady drizzle did little to dampen the spirits of the 125 or so residents and dignitaries who stood at the foot of the iconic Robert Crain Highway Monument on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. In defiance of the rain brought to Maryland by Hurricane Ian, the attendees were assembled at the request of the Upper Marlboro Historical Committee to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the construction of the monument and to re-create an original photograph that was taken some 100 years earlier, in September 1922.

Arguably the biggest smile among the large group that stood at Old Crain Highway and Main Street belonged to Melanie Miller, daughter of the late former Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr., whose 27th legislative district included Calvert, Charles, and Prince George's counties. The immensely popular Clinton, Maryland native, who served in the Senate from 1975 to 2020 and was its president from 1987 to 2020, passed away in January 2021.

“My dad would have been so proud to be here today,” a beaming Melanie Miller said, just moments before the United States Naval Academy Band played the Star-Spangled Banner. “He actually found the old photo that was originally taken in 1922 and gave it to the town. He encouraged the town to hold a centennial celebration this year, and I’m sad he couldn’t actually be here to participate in it. But I know he was looking down and watching with a big ol’ grin on his face.”

Although the longtime loquacious Senate President wasn’t physically present for the monument’s centennial celebration, which took place inside Trinity Episcopal Church on Church Street in Upper Marlboro following the photo re-enactment, a host of dignitaries was on hand to offer congratulatory remarks and present Town of Upper Marlboro Mayor Sarah Franklin with official proclamations recognizing the special occasion.

Among those who filled the Trinity Episcopal Church meeting room stage were Senator Ronald Watson, Delegate Marvin Holmes, College Park City Councilperson and MML President Denise Mitchell, Anne Arundel County Chief of Staff Dr. Kai Boggess deBruin, Calvert County Administrator Mark Willis, Charles County Commission President Reuben Collins, St. Mary’s County District 3 Commissioner John E. O’Connor, and Maryland Transportation Secretary Jim Ports. Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott offered pre-recorded congratulatory remarks.

Other speakers included Upper Marlboro Historical Committee Chair Patti Callicott and Vice Chair Evelyn Stephens, Town Archivist Brian Callicott, Town Clerk John Hoatson, and Mayor Franklin.

“This is a very special day in our town’s long, proud history,” Mayor Franklin said. “People have driven or walked past this unique historic monument every day for the past 100 years and probably didn’t know its true significance to our town, to the region, and to the state. This event served as an important reminder of how important the Town of Upper Marlboro has been to Maryland’s economy for over a century.”

The original September 1922 celebration and parade would forever change the Town of Upper Marlboro and its future. The Merchants and Manufacturers Association of Baltimore had decided that Southern Maryland was a hot spot for trading and other business opportunities. The association and political figures in Southern Maryland created a route which would connect Baltimore to Southern Maryland counties.

The original program from that 1922 ceremony tells of the events leading up to that celebration. A train brought members of the association, the Mayor of Baltimore, and hundreds of Baltimoreans onto Upper Marlboro’s Main Street for the celebration. Leading figures in the day’s ceremony were Albert C. Ritchie, then-governor of MD; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Crain, for whom Crain Highway was named; John N. Mackall, of the Maryland State Roads Commission; and the Honorable W. F. Broening, then Mayor of Baltimore.

As part of that observance, five young women representing each of the five counties participated in a flag ceremony along with the City of Baltimore. Governor Ritchie assured everyone that the flags would be preserved in Baltimore’s City Hall as a constant reminder of the meaning of the regional ceremony.

Originally, Robert Crain Highway was a narrow, twisted dirt path passable only by horse-drawn vehicles. This vital link between Baltimore City and the 5 Southern Maryland Counties was improved with $1,250,000.00 from the Maryland legislature to complete a better road. On Oct. 22, 1927, the Robert Crain Highway opened for the first time, allowing Baltimore and Southern Maryland Counties to trade.

“I wasn’t personally there for that ribbon-cutting,” joked Transportation Secretary Ports, “but I am very proud of the role that this road has played for the past 100 years in our state, socially and economically. Maryland’s excellent transportation network is an economic catalyst across the state, and nowhere has that been more evident than with Robert Crain Highway. I congratulate the Town of Upper Marlboro for today’s special centennial celebration.”


NBC 4 News Coverage of the Event

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