MoCo History: What Is That Building in the Woods on Clopper Road in Germantown? It’s Clopper’s Mill

If you’ve ever driven on Clopper Rd near Waring Station Rd in Germantown, you’ve likely seen the ruins of a building in the woods. That building is Clopper’s Mill, named for Francis C. Clopper, also the road’s namesake.

Per the The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission: “Francis C. Clopper operated a mill on Great Seneca Creek. He expanded the existing stone mill in 1834 with bricks made at his Woodlands estate. The original mill dated from 1795, and a mill had been on site as early as the 1770s. Clopper’s Mill, now in ruins, stands near Clopper and Waring Station Roads.”

Many in the area have heard it referred to as Clopper Mill, primarily due to the elementary school in the area with the name. A nearby shopping center, that is home to Shoppers, is named Cloppers Mill Village. If you ever plan to visit, winter may be best due to increased visibility in the woods. Per Atlas Obscura, “It is challenging to visit the Clopper Mill ruins. Some people park their car at Seneca Creek State Park or along spaces adjacent to Clopper Road that are large enough for cars, and then they walk on the shoulder (there are no sidewalks) towards the area where the mill is, but this is somewhat scary due to traffic. A better approach is to park your car on a stretch of dirt to the right as you descend to the bottom of Waring Station Road (or have someone drop you there and pick you up later) and cross over to the other side of Clopper Road (there are traffic lights). There is a sharp drop from Clopper road to the land where the mill is located, so exercise caution. During spring and summer, the ruins of the mill are hidden by the vegetation. There is poison ivy and there may be ticks, so take precautions. The ideal times to visit are during late fall, winter, and early spring.”

Some additional history, via Seneca Creek greenway Trail: “In 1784, Zachariah Maccubbin (MacKubbin) agreed to buy “Good Port,” as it was then known, from William Benson. Maccubbin failed to pay for the property so Benson had him dispossessed by ejectment. While Maccubbin had position, he tore down the decayed Benson’s mill on Good Port and built a new mill.

An Act to open “a road not exceeding thirty feet wide, from Barnsville to Zachariah Maccubbin’s Mill, and thence to intersect the Main Road leading from Frederick-Town (Frederick) to George-Town (Georgetown) at or near Log-Town (now Gaithersburg)” was passed Jan 25, 1806 by the General Assembly of Maryland. It is believed that this may be the current Barnesville Rd to Clopper Rd to West Diamond Ave, intersecting Rt. 355. In the Maryland Chancery Papers Index, there is mention of an injunction against Zachariah Maccubbin to keep him from removing timber from Good Port.

In 1812, Francis C. Clopper purchased Benson’s estate including the fairly new mill, which was built by Maccubbin sometime after 1784. Clopper rebuilt the mill in 1834. It was a grist mill and saw mill that was originally driven by an overshot wheel, but later converted to an undershot wheel. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1947 by an arsonist.”

Originally published in 2019, additional information included in this publishing.

Postcard, Montgomery County Historical Society, no date

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