Why Is It Named Gaithersburg?

For this edition of “Why Is It Named…?” we will head out to the Maryland suburbs of Gaithersburg. Do you know the town’s origin? We certainly didn’t, until a little sleuthing (and Wikipedia-ing) uncovered the story.

The town currently known as Gaithersburg was settled in 1765 under the name Log Town. Like much of the area, it was primarily agricultural. Benjamin Gaither inherited much of the land from his father-in-law, Henry Brookes, and built a house on it in 1802.

By the middle of the 19th century, the town and the surrounding area had been informally referred to as Gaitherburg (not Gaithersburg). Also, the town’s post office was located in Benjamin’s store in 1851 and was called Forest Oak after a large, and very old, oak tree located on Gaither’s property.

The tree was almost 300 years old when it came down during a major rainstorm in 1997.

Legend has it that the tree bore witness to the coming and going of famous Revolutionary War generals like George Washington and Edward Braddock.

In 1873 the B & O Railroad constructed a station at Gaithersburg, designed by Ephraim Francis Baldwin (who also designed the one at Point of Rocks). Finally in April, 1878, the town was officially incorporated as the City of Gaithersburg.

Historic Train station in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Historic Train station in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

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  • Dale Lynn Franks

    My family moved to Gaithersburg in 1971, when I was 12. I graduated from Gaithersburg High School in 1976. It was a great place to grow up and made leaving Cheverly Maryland a lot easier for a kid. My dad owned Gaithersburg Delicatessen and Carry Out on 355 very close to the old tree. My sister and I would put pennies on the train tracks to flatten them and my dad would make stuff for us with them. I have been gone since 1979, but Gaithersburg will always be a part of home to me along with Cheverly. The valley of the sun has nothing on Maryland, I miss it.