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Newspaper Catoctin Clarion (Mechanicstown, Md.) 1871-1940

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About Catoctin Clarion (Mechanicstown, Md.) 1871-1940

The Catoctin Clarion, published weekly, took its name from the Catoctin Mountain ridge located west of Mechanicstown in Frederick County, Maryland. Mechanicstown had a strong industrial influence at the time of the newspaper’s founding in 1871. The nearby Catoctin Iron Works had a long history dating to the 18th century, and the town’s first resident, Jacob Weller, established iron tool manufacturing and a friction match works that employed large numbers of skilled laborers or mechanics. Tanneries and woolen mills also flourished in Mechanicstown.

William Need founded the Clarion and stated in the inaugural issue of March 4, 1871, his intent to establish an independent newspaper that would serve the interests of citizens in the northern part of Frederick County. His new enterprise coincided with the arrival of the Western Maryland Rail Road, which helped connect goods manufactured in Mechanicstown to larger markets. Although politically unaffiliated, the paper supported Horace Greeley’s candidacy in the 1872 presidential election. Ill health forced Need to sell the Clarion in 1875 to Alexander P. Beatty, a young printer from Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Ownership passed to Edgar L. Root and Charles E. Cassell in 1879. Cassel, who served as editor, was a native of nearby Carroll County, Maryland, and a Dickinson College graduate. He assumed sole proprietorship of the newspaper in 1882 and continued in that capacity until 1905.

As editor of the Catoctin Clarion, Cassell became an important voice in local affairs. He was active in county politics, supported the expansion of the railroad, and chronicled the town’s dramatic growth. The Western Maryland Rail Road spurred economic activity in Mechanicstown, which included new knitting mills that employed a predominantly female workforce and an increase in orchard production on the slopes of the adjacent mountain. The railroad also brought tourists to town, on their way to its new Pen-Mar mountain resort with a grand hotel, restaurants, carousel, and other amusements. One of Cassell’s most enduring legacies involved changing the town’s name. After the railroad announced that too many towns with “mechanics” in their name caused confusion, Cassell made the case Mechanicstown should be known as Thurmont (“Gateway to the Mountains”). The new name won the support of local voters in 1894.

Cassell sold the Clarion to the Clarion Publishing Company in 1905. Led by President J.W. Creeger with C.C. Waters as editor, the paper recorded important local events such as the opening in 1909 of electric inter-urban railway lines to Frederick and Hagerstown. It reported on a major outbreak of the Spanish Flu in Thurmont in 1918 and noted impact of woman’s suffrage on local voter registrations in 1920.

The Catoctin Clarion returned to the control of the Cassell family in the persons of Dr. J. Howard Cassell and Charles E. Cassell, Jr., who acquired the paper in 1921. Sons of the longtime former editor, Howard Cassell was a local pharmacist, while his brother Charles managed the editorial and business sides of the newspaper. The Clarion ceased publishing in 1940.

Provided By: University of Maryland, College Park, MD

About this Newspaper


  • Catoctin Clarion (Mechanicstown, Md.) 1871-1940

Dates of Publication

  • 1871-1940

Created / Published

  • Mechanicstown, Md. : William Need


  • -  Thurmont (Md.)--Newspapers
  • -  Frederick County (Md.)--Newspapers
  • -  Maryland--Frederick County
  • -  Maryland--Thurmont
  • -  United States--Maryland--Frederick--Thurmont


  • Newspapers


  • -  Weekly
  • -  Vol. 1, no. 1 (Mar. 4, 1871)-
  • -  Ceased in 1940.
  • -  Published in Thurmont, Md., March 15, 1894-1940. Mechanicstown was renamed as Thurmont on Jan. 18, 1894.
  • -  Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.


  • volumes

Call Number/Physical Location

  • Newspaper

Library of Congress Control Number

  • sn84026688

OCLC Number

  • 10617186

ISSN Number

  • 2471-8874

Additional Metadata Formats


Rights & Access

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Catoctin Clarion Mechanicstown, Md. -1940. (Thurmont, MD), Jan. 1 1871.

APA citation style:

(1871, January 1) Catoctin Clarion Mechanicstown, Md. -1940. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Catoctin Clarion Mechanicstown, Md. -1940. (Thurmont, MD) 1 Jan. 1871. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,