William Preston Lane Jr., 1947-1951

William Preston Lane Jr., the Hagerstown native and lawyer, was elected governor in 1946 and is credited with forever transforming the face of Maryland. Lane successfully pushed for the construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge -- once called "Lane's Folly" -- which began spanning the Eastern and Western Shores in 1949, and welcomed its first shore-bound motorist in 1952. Born in Hagerstown in 1892, Lane was a 1915 graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, and was a decorated World War I infantryman. In 1930, he was elected attorney general, and did not run again in 1934. He was elected Democratic governor in 1946, after defeating Baltimore Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin. Lane successfully pressed for and saw the implementation of the state sales tax. Other accomplishments included improving education, establishing junior colleges, improving hospitals, and especially mental hospitals, whose medieval conditions had been exposed by The Baltimore Sun in a series of articles titled "Maryland's Shame." In the end, the sales tax proved to be his political Waterloo, as he was defeated by McKeldin in 1950. Lane died of a heart attack in 1967, and was buried in Hagerstown's Rose Hill Cemetery. "He was a man of vision, intelligence and character," reported The Sun at the time of his death. The Bay Bridge was named in his honor later that year. Pictured: Governor Lane and Theodore R. McKeldin in the Governor's Office by W. Ross Dunaway
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