More than 60 years ago, the Route 140 "Roadside Picnic Area and Community Fish Pond" was dedicated with great fanfare by then-Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin during a Saturday program that began at 2 p.m. and lasted all afternoon.
The pond was dedicated just a few short months after Route 140 opened in July of 1954.
In his remarks on Sept. 18, 1954, McKeldin noted, "The increase in travel, the expansion of tourist business which we are encouraging, and the rapid growth of our highway system under our 12-year road construction program creates some problems…The Kiwanis Club of Westminster is due high praise for sponsoring this Community fish pond and roadside picnic area."
After the pond and park area were turned over to the state, the picnic area and other improvements to the pond were undertaken by the Kiwanis Club of Westminster and the Carroll County Chapter of the Isaac Walton League.
Recently, the pond has been in the news. It is undergoing major reconstruction. Many folks have asked about the work being done on the pond — and about the history of the park.
On Feb. 27, 2011, writer Katie V. Jones reported in the Carroll Eagle that the "popular Westminster park could see its pond triple in size with the addition of walking trails and a fishing pier…"
A Jan. 13, 2014 press release from Jeff R. Degitz, adiministrator of Carroll County recreation and parks, explained the "Pond will be closed for construction and major renovations beginning Wednesday, January 15, 2014. Planned renovations include the enlargement of the pond… and additional parking…"
It just so happens that I was getting a haircut at Cal Bloom's Barber Shoppe, just after 2 p.m. a couple of weeks ago, on Sept. 18. The barber, Cal Bloom, is the son of Russell and Mary Bloom.
Our conversation drifted to the history of the pond and the barber shop that he opened on May 1, 1985.
Bloom explained that his father started the pond in the middle of what was then a large swamp. In part, it was an attempt to drain the area to help protect the family farm's livestock that were getting stuck in the wetlands.
Russell and Mary Bloom sold the property for $10 to "the State of Maryland, to the use of the Department of Game and Inland Fish of Maryland" as described in a deed executed on June 10, 1954.
In the late 1950s. it was simply known as Bloom Pond — after the family that owned it.
Today, most folks know the body of water at the intersection of Route 97 north and Route 140 as the "Westminster Community Pond."
Many may also know it as the "Westminster Duck Pond."
The practice of taking bread to the pond to feed the ducks has been discredited for many years. But some of my fondest childhood memories are of feeding the ducks on a Saturday afternoon, or after church on Sunday after having lunch at Baugher's restaurant or the nearby "Snaks By Twin Kiss Drive-In."