A History of Sugarloaf Mountain Region, Incorporated
Antique Automobile Club of America
Charles H. Zierdt – SMR-AACA, Historian
Way back in 1969, Irvin L. Long and other residents who were members of the National Capital Region AACA in upper Montgomery County, Maryland, just north of Washington D.C., traveled fifty miles each way to attend club meetings in the District of Columbia. In fact, Irvin Long himself had been doing this for sixteen years. Many National Capital Region events were planned to go even further South. Irvin talked to other antique car hobbyists in his area of upper Montgomery County, and was assured by at least twenty-five that they would support formation of a new region. On August 21, 1969, Irvin wrote to Fritz Van Winkle, AACA, the Vice President for Regions, asking for information pertinent to creation of a new region. Van Winkle’s reply was delayed, as he was on vacation. In a return letter (Sept. 10, 1969) he offered to present Long’s application, provided that he receive it by October 9, in time for the AACA Board meeting at Hershey. He asked for a letter of approval from the National Capital Region (Cliff Jenkins, President), and he asked how far it was from upper Montgomery County to the meeting hall of National Capital Region — that figure had to be arbitrary, whatever it was. Cliff Jenkins (still very active in the hobby, particularly with Model T Fords), transmitted his board’s approval to Irvin and to AACA’s Fritz Van Winkle.
The Certificate of Charter from AACA President Albert Whiting and Secretary Henry L. Feinsinger was dated October 10, 1969. Pretty fast work!! Further, Articles of Incorporation of Sugarloaf Mountain Region AACA were created and carried through the Rockville, Maryland, courts by Barnard (Barney) T. Welch, a prominent and widely loved attorney, himself an outstanding collector of antique cars. Barney asked that letterheads and anything bearing the club’s name should read “Sugarloaf Mountain Region, A.A.C.A., Incorporated,” or at least, Inc.
A man still active in the Sugarloaf club, Kenneth T. King, was the first president. There were twenty-one founding members of whom eight are active in 2001. The original twenty-one founding members were Irvin Long, Kenneth T. King, Robert Lillard, Deets Warfield, Sam Gladhill, Tilghman T. Brandenberg, Robert Supina, David T. Martin, Russell Long, Elmer C. Wurdeman, Herbert W. Collins, Edwin E. (Gene) Zimmerman, Sr., Joseph Canova, Charles Canova (son), Claude Worth Owen, William C. Hanson, Joseph M. Brown, Calvin S. Martin, Harry R. Cline, Franklin L. Notnagle, and Thomas M. Geiser.
The new club got off to a characteristic first start, holding their maiden tour that included climbing Sugarloaf Mountain itself, then dinner at nearby Comus Inn. This event was featured in the Frederick Post. Sugarloaf Mountain was purchased in 1920 by a Mr. Strong, a wealthy Chicago engineer who came to the area for wilderness hiking. Incorporated as Stronghold, a road was built to the top, with parking areas. A significant bequeath by Strong, it is now secured forever for public use.
Sugarloaf Mountain was followed by a trip to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on May 10, 1970, to visit Zimmerman’s Automobilorama. Another run took them to Adamstown, Maryland, for the Carroll Manor Steam Festival lead by Director Sam Gladhill, on August 1, 1970.
On Sunday, August 23, 1970, Sugarloaf Region people visited Keith’s Cadillac ranch in Hyattstown, Maryland.
Out first Activities Day was held on the spacious grounds of the Damascus American Legion facility at Mt. Airy, on September 20, 1970. Even then, there were 150 antique cars in attendance. Members of the Nation’s Capital Model T Ford Club assembled a disassembled Model T in eight minutes and ran it. That club is still using that same T in the same act about ten times a year, at various functions around the entire area. The assemblers in 1970 were P.L. (Woody) Woodson, C.W. Owen, Bill Herndon, Joe Canova, Bob Lillard, Mel Torney, and Bob Herndon. Talk about Keystone Cops!
Other contests were cranking, Maypole contest (I wonder how they did that??), jousting, best female costume, best male costume, longest distance traveled, tough luck award, car with largest engine, oldest car, and most outstanding car. An outstanding Family-Style Fried Chicken dinner was served in the Legion Hall in 1970, as it is even now. Sugarloaf does its own cooking for many events, but not for this dinner. We do handle the drinks, dogs and burgers throughout the day.
The first Activities Meet was followed quickly by another meet as SMR went to nearby Barnesville, on Sunday, September 27, 1970, to celebrate Barnesville Day (Bicentennial Parade).
Our members loved tours, and still do. Nineteen-hundred-seventy was not over. The Second Annual Fall Tour, on October 25, went over scenic secondary roads in the Sugarloaf Mountain area, to wind up in tiny Comus, at Comus Inn for dinner.
The First Annual Banquet was held January 30, 1971, at fabulous Peter Pan Inn in nearby Urbana. This banquet includes exhibits of historic items, collectors’ items, and installation of new officers (following dinner), speeches, then dancing to band music and socializing until late.
Our first Winter Parts Meet was held March 28, 1971, at the Frederick Fairgrounds. An indoor-outdoor (mostly indoor) meet, it has been very popular and for many years now is a two-day event.
The first tour for 1971, on Sunday, April 25th, was named the Rain and Curtain Tour, because of the possible need for side curtains! A country road tour, it wound up at Tridelphia and Brighton Reservoir Dam for picnicking. And so it went. The early spring tour became the Cobweb Tour (get rid of the cobwebs of winter), later also named the Irvin Long Memorial Tour.
The second SMR Activities Meet was held September 19, 1971; the year 2000 marked the 31st year of this same event, at the same location.
Our major meets are reported in area newspapers. We laminate these stories and photographs for protection and easy display. Outstanding photographs, letters, certificates and many other history items are included in annual albums or laminated on hardboard for display.
Sam Gladhill arranged an SMR-AACA outing at B.D. “Buick” – Gladhill’s huge barn containing an amazing collection of fire engines, farm tractors, farm machinery, household furnishings, clothes, kitchen stuff, milking machines, carpentry tools and you name it! This was on Sunday, October 3, 1971. We have been back a number of times. Buick is a very entertaining host, and genuinely interested in visitors to his museum. It is located in Damascus.
As an aside, Sugarloaf members were involved in an antique auto “race.” Marriott Hotels sponsored a “race” in August 1972, of cars from California, Minneapolis, and Boston, to New Orleans, to promote their new New Orleans Marriott. Three entries started at staggered intervals. The Boston entry broke down in New York. To save the race for the East, David Martin took up the cause and entered the race with his family and his 1920 Locomobile. The Martins started at the D.C. Twin Bridges Marriott, escorted initially by Buzz and Virginia Potter in their 1929 Packard Phantom. Five days later, the Locomobile entered New Orleans first, winning the race.
An Overnight Tour was initiated on October 28-29, 1991. It covered country road areas of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. This tour is annual also. Itineraries for our major tours have always been given out only at departure time. In this sense these are mystery tours. Our starting point for tours is traditionally from the parking lot of the Damascus Shopping Center. Everyone knows where it is. A great McDonald’s is a short walk, and the large parking section that we use is always clear. Friends and shoppers come over for confab, before the tour begins. Of course, we never gossip!!
The Historian constructed a beautiful 2′ x 4′ walnut board and mounted the brass plaques from all of the meets for which they were made, since 1970-the Activities Meets, the Same Gladhill Tours, and the AACA-backed shows. We have saved memorabilia of all of our activities, including annual albums of photographs. Examples are displayed at meetings, particularly the January Installation Banquet and February Charter Members’ Banquet.
Our bimonthly Sugarloaf Mountain Region AACA newsletter is named Piston Popper. The cover features a flying Model A Ford Roadster, a guy and gal, and a large piston and connecting rod exiting a hole in the hood. The artwork was done by Claude Worth Owen, deceased 2000, known by everyone as Worth.