That Small Notch of Western Maryland to Become Part of West Virginia?


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Let me get right to the facts and state clearly that this has as much of a chance of happening in our lifetime as there is a chance for 300″ of natural snow this winter within any of the states of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic. However, as far-fetched as it is – it IS kind of a fun possibility to consider.

For several years now, when I am involved in a conversation about the northernmost ski resort member of the Southeastern Ski Areas Association (Wisp Resort), I am often asked ‘where is it located?’. My go-to answer has always been, “It is located in that little northwestern notch of Maryland that SHOULD BE West Virginia.”


Photo permission by Washington Post. Click to enlarge.

While there’s a snowballs chance in hell that it will ever happen, a handful of republican lawmakers from western Maryland are plotting a political run for the border and they want to drag Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties along with them.

In the map to the right, provided by The Washington Post, West Virginia is in Orange; Maryland in Blue; and the three counties in GRAY probably should be WV.

For those of you unaware, Garrett County is home to Wisp Resort in Maryland.

Five state legislators sent a pair of letters to top West Virginia officials asking whether they might annex their westernmost piece of the panhandle (that little notch) and make Mountain Maryland a permanent part of the Mountain State of West Virginia.

Most of those who signed the letter framed it as more of a political attention grab as they wanted to send a signal to their own state that they have specific needs that are being ignored. All parties admit there is nearly a zero chance of it happening. However, never one to miss a publicity stunt, Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia quickly responded with his endorsement of the idea saying, “You sure as the dickens won’t ever regret it!”

Jim Justice, Governor of WV

Justice even took to video preaching annexation, making a livestreamed appeal — joined by three of West Virginia’s top state lawmakers just one day after news broke of Maryland inquiry. The cadre of five Maryland GOP lawmakers described their corner of Maryland as neglected by Annapolis and out-of-step with a state politically dominated by Baltimore and the sprawling Washington, D.C., suburbs.

Within hours of Justice’s eager response, the gambit began to fall apart amid sharp criticism from other Maryland politicians. Allegany County Board of Commissioners President Jake Shade went so far as to rip the lawmakers behind the letters at a Thursday meeting in Cumberland, calling the bid and ensuing media coverage “ridiculous” and “a disgrace” to the area. He also added that the letters made them look dumb.

Governor Justice waxed on for more than 20 minutes exclaiming all of the wonders of becoming part of the state of West Virginia. He stated, “You would see job opportunity like crazy with the chance to live in paradise, and I mean it!” — and suggesting that even the weather could be better, as his state would bring with it “four seasons that are the most beautiful as beautiful could possibly be.”

Not sure how renaming McHenry, Maryland to McHenry, West Virginia would change the weather patterns, but facts are often lost on politicians. In a funny, added twist, Justice stumbled several times by calling Garrett County, “Garnett County” and then saved face pretty adeptly by promising to get the name right if Garrett County becomes part of West Virginia.

West Virginia already boasts huge numbers of skier visits compared to the Virginia and North Carolina ski areas and adding Wisp’s number would greatly enhance their economic impact on state’s economy.

While there’s no chance anything ever comes of the story, it was worth a thought and it would have been nice just to be able to describe where Wisp is located.

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