Jan 30, 2007

The Crooked Road to Civil War, 1861 by Nelson D. Lankford

"If Gov. Thomas Hicks had given in to the demands of Democrats and recalled the general assembly in April, after Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for the states to raise militias for war against the South, Maryland would probably have voted to secede from the Union.
Perhaps just as fateful were the unintended consequences of Hicks's decision to burn railroad bridges on the two lines that would carry northern militias south to Washington. By making a wide circle around Baltimore, the troops avoided inflaming a city already on the brink of revolt and kept Maryland, however tenuously, in the Union." Read on.

Old House: #14

This may have never been a house at all, but there's enough categories on this blog already, so we'll call it a house for convenience sake. It is located in Monkton, Maryland, across from the old station.

Jan 26, 2007

Now at the National Zoo: The Manda

Tian Tian, the adult male panda at the National Zoo in D.C., was reunited with his mate/buddy Mei Xiang for a short visit the other day. They had to do something as Tian Tian has been suffering from "stereotypical behavior" recently. In other words he's bored and it's making him neurotic.
And speaking of stereotyping, does it sometimes seem like the zoo staff likes to project their frustrations with men in general on poor Tian? He's a deadbeat dad, all he does is lay around and eat, he didn't take a Lamaze class. What's a poor bear to do? Even worse, it may turn out that pandas, at least some of them, aren't "solitary creatures" at all. A recent report from China tells how scientists have found whole panda communities living in large groups centered around caves in the mountains. This may apply doubly to Tian Tian who was raised at the communal panda breeding center at Woolong. So the next time you're at the National Zoo, send some happy thoughts towards Tiany - a solitary and perhaps, lonely creature.

Photo of Tian Tian by Kim Choate ©2006 Screenshot of "Homer Sim-Sim" property of the Fox Network

Jan 24, 2007


I can't think of a better place to hold a funeral than at the Watters Meetinghouse. If there is a more desolate spot in Maryland, I am unaware of it. The meetinghouse (aka Thomas Run Church) was built in the 1840's, replacing an earlier structure that dates back to the late 18th century. You can read all about its history here. The building has been described as Greek Revival, but that's a bit of a stretch IMHO; I think it's better described as a box with holes in it. Anyway, the building and setting combined make for one stark setting.

Jan 23, 2007

Patient effort to restore a historic chapel

"St. Patrick's chapel never grew past its two rows of pews. Of the six mission churches started by St. Ignatius in the Harford County town of Hickory, the tiny Cecil County chapel near Conowingo is the only one that never expanded or flourished as an independent parish. That's according to William Pare, treasurer of the St. Patrick's Chapel Historical Society, an organization raising money to repair and preserve a chapel built by Irish immigrants nearly 188 years ago." Read on. For more pictures of St. Patrick's chapel see our post here.

Old Banks

Both of these old bank buildings sit near the NCR trail in Baltimore County. They represent a time when money was counted out in paper and before there was an FDIC. Does anybody use paper money anymore? I keep a few dollars in my wallet, in case I stop at the Waffle House, and that's about it.

Jan 21, 2007


I thought this was a school house when I first saw it; turns out to be a horse stable, ca 1857.

Hampton National Historic Site Canon 5D ©2007 Falmanac

Jan 19, 2007

The Wonders of Harpers Ferry

From American Heritage: "Jefferson Rock needs a little support in its old age. The geologic formation, precariously balanced on a ledge above Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, received bracing from four sandstone pillars sometime around 1860. The view from it, however, needs no assistance at all. Far below it the Shenandoah River follows a collision course with the Potomac, a meeting that occurs beneath the rocky bluffs of Maryland Heights, Maryland, and Loudoun Heights, West Virginia. Even in the twenty-first century, this is a place of primal, romantic beauty. “This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1783, when he visited." Read on.

Jan 15, 2007

Monkton mystery building

Somewhere between York Road and the NCR trail, around Monkton or White Hall, sits this old building. I'm gonna assume it was a school. Anybody know for sure?

Jan 12, 2007

So, how'd all this raven stuff get started anyway?

Many Marylanders associate the Baltimore Ravens name with Edgar Allen Poe, but that's not the real story, or at least not the whole story.

It all started back in the 19th century when the colorful Gilmor (no "e") family made a fortune in the Baltimore shipping industry. Like all good antebellum Southerners, Robert Gilmor was a Sir Walter Scott fan; so much so, that he built his house to look just like "Abbotsford," Scott's estate across the Atlantic. Having a Scottish house he decided to give it a Scottish name: Glen Ellen. (Ellen after his wife, and Glen being Scottish for, uh, glen.) Many years later the family donated their estate to build a reservoir which they named, in Scottish fashion, "Loch Raven," after a portion of the estate called Ravensrock. Then came Loch Raven Boulevard, Glen Arm, Waverley, etc., and the rest is history.
Of course the fact that Poe died in Baltimore, while on one of the great all time benders in literary history, only added to Baltimore's association with the doleful crow.
Are there any actual ravens in Maryland? I've never seen one, but according to the Maryland DNR, you can find them in the western portions of the state. See here for more information. For more on the Glen Ellen estate go here.


Only 5,875,200 seconds until Spring, assuming you read this at midnight, and now it's even less. A mere 68 days.

Fallston, MD Canon EOS 5D ©2007 falmanac

Jan 10, 2007

Jan 7, 2007

Sailing into the past

Havre de Grace, Maryland

Canon EOS 10D ©2007 falmanac

Jan 5, 2007

Dickensian nature

Eden Mill bill's itself as a nature center, and I'm sure it's a very good one, but I never think of nature when I'm there - I think of Charles Dickens. With it's big blue mill sitting there in a dark hollow, and the ritzy owner's mansion sitting right on top of the place, it's hard not to think of Oliver Twist or Great Expectations. I'm always half expecting to see some creepy girl staring out of one of the mansion windows.
Back in town, there's a local theme restaurant chain made up to look like a 19th century coal mine. I find it appalling. Nobody else seems to mind. Maybe I'm just a wet blanket.

Jan 4, 2007

Reopening of Towson mansion is tentatively set for this fall

Towson, MD (Baltimore Sun) - Orange construction netting surrounds the 18th-century mansion. Plaster dust has crumbled to the floors in the once-stately rooms. Paint is peeling on the grand exterior doors and along the handcrafted moldings. But still, Greg McGuire has something to show off.
The crews are more than half-done with the renovations to the Georgian mansion at the Hampton National Historic Site, says McGuire, the facilities manager, as he surveys the drilling through a second-floor ceiling.A new air conditioning and heating system is being installed, and cosmetic repairs are to follow, as part of the $1.6 million project. National Park Service employees and volunteers are beginning to plan the reopening of the 33-room mansion this year. Read on.

Mix Master

Eden Mill: Pylesville, MD
Canon EOS 5D ©2007 falmanac

Jan 3, 2007

Proctor House

Proctor House, on Gordon Street in Bel Air, MD, was built in 1865 and added onto in 1884. It is now owned by the local Board of Education and much the worse for it. I imagine they will let it rot for a few more years and then tear it down, you know, "for the children." See it while you still can.

Jan 2, 2007


"Unlike many other areas of the state, Baltimore County has remained a home to industry during the modern period. Many of the old industrial complexes were converted to new uses. In the 1930s the Reifschnider Company began to manufacture piston rings in the old Franklinville Cotton Factory. During the late 1940s and early 1950s the plant was a plastic manufactory, and beginning in 1954 the Belko Corporation used it to produce rubber belting products." - from A Historic Context for the Archaeology of Industrial Labor in the State of Maryland by Robert C. Chidester.

Franklinville, MD Canon 5D ©falmanac 2007