A Four-State Vista from Dan’s Rock Overlook

Who is Dan and why’d he leave his rock at such a beautiful place? Then, why did he spraypaint gloriously colorful graffiti all over his rock?

These are questions I asked as I climbed the steps to Dans Rock Overlook! Dans Rock Overlook is one of Maryland’s iconic overlooks and sits at the top of Dans Mountain at the highest point in Allegheny County.

Perched high on a 16-mile long mountain in Lonaconing, MD, Dans Rock Overlooks provides a panoramic view of the surrounding region from an elevation of 2898 feet. 

Although there are higher points in Maryland, Dans Mountain has the view of the most impressive escarpment of Maryland’s mountains. It is essentially continuous with the longer escarpment that continues both north (into Pennsylvania) and south (into West Virginia) known as the Allegheny Front.

The views are beautiful. On a clear day you can see four states: Maryland of course, but also Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia.

What makes Dans Rock unique is that the history of this overlook is told in graffiti art on the rocks. In fact, even before you see the awesome view, you’ll notice the bold and colorful graffiti on the rocks, stairs, and platforms. If graffiti on rocks upsets you, skip it.

And apparently, it’s not a new tradition — if you look closely, you’ll notice engraved inscriptions in the rocks from 1931, 1947, and 1870! People have been coming here to leave their mark for generations. 

Just be careful as you cross the bridge off Rt 51 to watch for the tiny little sign pointing you up the mountain — we missed it the first time past. 

Nearby but separate from the overlook is Dans Mountain State Park, which offers a heated swimming pool, picnic tables and pavilions, a recycled-tire playground and a pond that offers great fishing.

Still no word on who Dan is.

Since you’re in the area, after you see the amazing view, head on over for a little bit of America’s industrial history at the Lonaconing Furnace, which dates back to 1839 to 1855, employing 250 local men. This was America’s first iron furnace to successfully create pig iron — the raw ingredient for creating steel — using coal and coke, in lieu of charcoal. Unfortunately, the furnace was abandoned because of the expense of transporting the pig iron. In 1973, the furnace was listed on the National Historic Register, and after an old high school was torn down in the late 1970s, a town park was created, with the furnace as its focal point. 

Getting there: Dans Rock Overlook — 17600 Old Dans Rock Rd SW, Rawlings, MD 21557; Lonaconing Iron Furnace — Main St, Lonaconing, MD 21539

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