ABOUT US2019-05-10T09:41:05-04:00

ABOUT US

A History of Mount Washington Rod & Gun Club, Inc.

HOW IT BEGAN

The Mount Washington Rod and Gun Club was organized on August 4th, 1944. It came into being after the 117th Company; Maryland Minute Men of the Reserve Militia was inactivated after two years during World War II. This was a home guard type of activity and many in this company, having served in WW I, were too old for active duty in WW II. The members of this company wanted to continue the friendships and associations formed during their service. To this end they organized a sporting club, as evidenced by the club name. The club affiliated with the National Rifle Association and received a Class “A” Membership Charter on October 19th, 1944.

THE ORIGINAL OFFICERS

By January 1st, 1945, the club membership had grown to thirty five men, (in 1960 the “male” requirement for membership qualification was formally removed). About half of this number lived in or near the Mount Washington community. To further the firearms objectives of marksmanship and competition, the Club also affiliated with the associated Rifle & Pistol clubs of Baltimore, Inc., (later renamed the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore, Inc.), and with the Maryland Rifle and Pistol Association, (now the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association).Some of the other member clubs of this association, at that time, were:

Arlington, Baltimore, Chesapeake, Garrison, Glenmore, Greenbelt, Gwynn’s Falls, Hamilton Post American Legion, Homewood, Izaak Walton, Mardocko, Maryland, Monumental, Montfaucon Post American Legion, Rangers, Stemmer’s Run, Marine Post American Legion and U.S. Aggies.

The original club officers for 1944-45 were:
President: Franklin “Cap” Horpel, (Captain, U.S. Army Artillery, WW I)
Vice President: Stewart Friant
Treasurer: Charles Sherman
Secretary: Sam Feldstein
Range Officer: Walter Gessford

All of these officers, with the exception of Sherman, lived in Mount Washington, and he lived nearby, in Pimlico. After retirement, Cap Horpel moved to Mount Airy, in Carroll County, and became Mayor of that town.

THE RANGES

The range was located on the property of the Mount Washington Club, which lay between Kelly Avenue, on the North and Belvedere Avenue (now Northern Parkway) on the South, and between the Jones Falls, on the East and the railroad tracks to the West. The Meadowbrook Swimming Pool was just south of the Kelly Avenue Bridge and beside the Jones Falls stream. The lacrosse field was just to the West, next to the railroad tracks and separated from the pool by something known as Cottonworth Avenue. To get to the range from Falls Road, you crossed a small bridge on Smith Avenue, next to the Maryland Bolt and Nut factory and turned left onto Cottonworth Avenue. You then passed under the Kelly Avenue Bridge past the pool and the playing field only to find that the dirt road ended at a footpath which led into the woods, south of the pool. At the end of the path was 5600 Cottonworth Avenue, the official address of clubhouse. The range was inside a long, narrow, wooden building, bought as surplus from the Edgewood Arsenal. It was primitive but it was home to the club and many enjoyable hours were spent there, burning powder, hitting (and sometimes missing!) the mark, telling some lies about shooting and generally enjoying the time spent together.

There was electricity and oil heat. You could freeze when changing targets in winter and survive the tropical heat of the unventilated building in summer with a Coke machine. The building was perched on block pilings to raise it above the usual flood stage when the Jones Falls Stream overflowed its banks. Sometimes the flood floated the building off the supports. After this happened a few times, the building developed some sags, which only added to its character.

“We led a charmed existence for many years without any complaints from neighbors. In fact the people, who lived on Mattfeldt Avenue, just across the stream, may not have even known what we did back in the woods. All good things come to an end, and the building of the Jones Falls Expressway was the beginning of the end of our range house. The expressway was located beside the railroad which caused the lacrosse field to be relocated close to our building. We couldn’t have moved the building even if we had a new location.”

Interim meeting locations, after vacating our old clubhouse, included:

  • Associated Gun Clubs’ Marriottsville Range House (around 1960)
  • Pikesville Sportsman’s Club (an attempted merger didn’t last very long)
  • Pikesville Armory
  • Kahn-Ellert Electronics, near the 41st Street Bridge, on Television Hill, thanks to club member, Manny Kahn
  • Baltimore County Police Range

Many of our club pistol shooters, along with others, formed a New group, named “The Baltimore County Handgunners”, which met at and fired on the range in Texas, Maryland, located on the “County Poor Farm” which is now the Longview Golf Course. (The remnants of the farm are the University of Maryland Farm Extension Service. The original Alms House still stands). The range was presided over by Capt. Bill Simms and his assistant; Cpl. Spenser. At that time, Bill was the County’s one-man SWAT team and shared his shooting expertise and knowledge with us, such as frequently reminding us not to shoot at the animal silhouettes, since the farm sheep, pigs and cows often stood non-chalantly on top of the target backstop-berm during firing.

The Bradford Federal Savings Bank, 6900 York Road, in Rodgers Forge, followed next. This venue was thanks to former club president, Bruce Hale, who was a partner of the Norris, Bast and Hale Law Firm, some of whom were officers of Bradford Federal. For a time, the club’s meeting place was the Mercy Ridge Retirement Community due to the courtesy of long-time club member; Carolyn Gilgenast. The Club currently meets in the Lower Range House at the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore on the third Thursday of each month.

An early club tradition had the outgoing president provide a fifth of good drinking whisky. This was passed around by the incoming president and club officers and invariably finished off by Brother Bill Brown. Otto Schaub is remembered as a member of an elite group of low scoring small bore rifle shooting old-timers who proudly sported a Mount Washington Pole Cats brassard on their coats. Charlie Brasse was the organizer of periodic fishing and camping trips whose members later had difficulty recalling the details of how much fun they all had!  The club invested a lot in Junior members. Lloyd Chalker and George Webster were very generous with their time and interest in the Juniors activities. We were real gun control advocates back when that meant “Being able to hit what you aim at”.

The original members of the club couldn’t have foreseen how enduring their association would be and they couldn’t have hoped for any more for the present and future members than the friendships and enjoyment which they experienced.