Aug 30, 2007

Travelers Repose

"Travellers Repose sits at the bottom of Cheat Mountain in the Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia and used to be a stagecoach stop on the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike.
It used to be a bustling inn, mill and farm that became a campground and battlefield during the American Civil War. Stonewall Jackson stayed here and Ambrose Bierce camped here as a soldier during the War.
After the conflict, Bierce came back to the Inn to relax, write, and presumably eat the legendary meals of mutton, bacon, pancakes, and of course fresh trout from the river." Continued.

Sports Legends Museum "Getting Out Of The Woods."

(WBAL) The Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards has seen a 10% increase in the number of people who have come through the door over the past year and an 18% increase in revenue from the gate and store receipts.
Attendance has shown a steady increase from April of this year when some 6,300 people visited to August where the museum projects there will be about 11,300 patrons passing through. Continued.

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Nothing Down, $0 a Month, Hammer Required

"WHY would some people willingly spend decades — and hundreds of thousands of dollars — renovating houses they will never own?
For a small but growing number of so-called resident curators living in old and cherished state-owned houses up and down the East Coast, the answers include the pleasure of bringing an abandoned landmark back to life, freedom from mortgage payments and the chance to live in the kind of home that would otherwise be out of reach.
... Maryland started the first network of 40 house curatorships in 1982, and Delaware began its program with three properties in 2004." Continued.

Canon EOS 5D

Aug 29, 2007

CSX to donate land to Harford for relocation of train station

Aberdeen, Md. (Examiner) - Efforts to save a piece of Harford County’s railroad history got a shot in the arm this weekend with the news that CSX will donate land for the relocation and restoration of Aberdeen’s crumbling B&O train station.
After stipulating that the Historical Society of Harford County could only restore the 122-year-old train station if it was moved from its current location close to working rail lines, CSX sent the society an e-mail this weekend telling it the company would donate an adjacent parcel of land. Continued.

Photo Sony P52

Aug 28, 2007

THEY certainly don't can anything anymore in Canton.

"In the last seven years, however, local urban improvement grants have helped transform former factories and row houses into modern and spacious condos, with a slew of new homeowners moving in to join people who started remaking the area in the 1980s. What was derelict is now one of the city's most desirable neighborhoods, with water taxi service connecting it with the hotels and shops of the Inner Harbor." Continued.

Canton 1939

Aug 26, 2007

The Shoe House

"The Shoe House was built in 1948 (and completed in 1949) by Colonel Mahlon M. Haines, the flamboyant "Shoe Wizard," for advertising purposes. Haines walked up to an architect, handed him an old work boot, and said "Build me a house like this." Haines owned forty shoe stores in Maryland and Pennsylvania, was a millionaire and an honorary Indian chief, and knew the value of self-promotion. Haines would stand up at baseball games and offer $20 to anybody who knew who he was." Continued.

Hellam, Pennsylvania
Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Aug 24, 2007

Old House # 18

"Until very recently, he notes, when people prayed for their daily bread, they often were praying for just that.
Not so long ago, many ordinary lives of quiet desperation ended especially dismally: about 10 percent of burials in New York City in 1889 were in potter’s fields.
In 1900, 1.75 million children between the ages of 10 and 15 — almost one-fifth of all children in that age cohort — were in the work force. Children provided one-fourth to one-third of the incomes for working-class families, which spent more than 90 percent of their household earnings on food, shelter and clothing.
In 1900, Americans spent nearly twice as much on funerals as on medicine, and less than 2 percent of Americans took vacations." - George F. Will

Wiley, Pennsylvania

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Aug 23, 2007

Cow bells

Steppingstone Museum, Havre de Grace, Maryland
Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Aug 21, 2007

Key Ingredients Lecture Cancelled - Wed, Aug 22

The lecture on canning on Delmarva is cancelled for Wednesday, August 22. All others continue as planned. - The Historical Society of Cecil County Blog

Aug 20, 2007

The New Ideal Diner

Just looking at it gives me a yen for a three egg breakfast - over easy, with hashbrowns, and toast.

U.S. Route 40, Aberdeen, Maryland
Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Aug 18, 2007

Country Churches: The Dunker Church

"Because the Dunker church was a prominent battlefield landmark, its reconstruction was a long term goal of the National Park Service. In 1960 The State of Maryland provided the NPS with $35,000 to reconstruct the church.
The present Dunker Church, standing on the original site was completed late in 1961. Many of the original salvaged materials were purchased from Mr. Boyer and are now integral parts of the reconstructed church. These include 3,000 bricks, door and window frames, some flooring, and a number of benches." Continued.

Sharpsburg, Maryland

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Aug 17, 2007

Key Ingredients lecture series kicks off

The Key Ingredients lecture series kicked off Wednesday evening with a fascinating lecture called "Before the Age of Acme" by Dr. Constance Cooper, the manuscript librarian at the Historical Society of Delaware. Dr. Cooper outlined what it was like to shop for food in the era before supermarkets and convenience stores replaced corner stores and she provided the audience with a fun look back at the history of food shopping. Once the slide-illustrated talk was over, the audience had plenty of questions for her about how food shopping, preparation, and service habits have changed over the centuries.You won’t want to miss the other upcoming talks in this series, which all take place at 7:00 p.m. on the designated date at the Society, 135 E. Main Street, Elkton:

  • Wednesday Aug 22 at 7:00 p.m. Ed Kee presents a lecture on "Saving Our Harvest," the story of the Mid-Atlantic's canning and freezing industry
  • Monday, August 27 -- 'Building Houses out of Chicken Legs – Black Women, Food & Power” is the subject by Dr. Psyche Williams Forson. Using a receipe of scholarly analysis, personal interviews, film advertisments, cookbooks and literature, Williams-Forsythe examines the role of the chicken in African American Life, paying special attention to the connection between chickens and African-American Women. From slavery to the present, families have been fed with chickens raised by these women, who have made their livings cooking and serving in houses, resturants, on the roadside, at the harbor and in churches.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 5 -- Dr. Cooper returns for a talk on the "The Delmarva Peach Industry."
  • Wednesday, Sept. 12 -- A talk on Growing Heirloom Vegetables by Heather Morrisey, a history and how to guide for growing heirloom vegetables.

Key Ingredients: America by Food, has been made possible by the Maryland Humanities Council. Key Ingredients is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. These lectures are also underwitten by a grant from the Maryland Humanities Council.

Aug 16, 2007

Too hot for history

It's just too hot for exploring; we try and try, but the AC in the car isn't very good and I just end up weird & cranky, or as Kim would say, "weirder and crankier."
So it was a nice consolation to see Michael Wallis on the Colbert Report last night. No, not the 60 Minutes guy, that's Mike Wallace.
I'm talking about the man who wrote such great books as Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride, Way Down Yonder in the Indian Nation: Writings from America's Heartland, and Pretty Boy: The Life and Times of Charles Arthur Floyd. That Michael Wallis.
He's written a new book called The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate.
The Lincoln Highway is one of the great old U.S. Highways we like to go on about here at Falmanac, and we are very glad to see something new on the subject (other than the oh so tired Route 66).
I haven't read this one yet, but I did read the other three mentioned above, and on that evidence alone, I'll rate Lincoln Highway as Highly Recommended.

BTK photo from the Wikipedia. Diner photo courtesy of

Aug 14, 2007

First in Firings? It wasn't Trump

Abraham Lincoln was never one to be overly enamored of his generals. Once, when he heard that a general and several dozen horses had been captured in a raid, he said something to the effect of, "I can make more generals, but I can't make more horses." And he made a lot of generals, fired a lot of them too:

1. Irvin McDowell, fired after losing the 1st battle of Bull Run.

2. George B. McClellan, fired after retreating from the vicinity of Richmond in 1862.

3. John Pope, fired after being routed at the 2nd battle of Bull Run.

4. George B. McClellan, rehired and re-fired, after Antietam.

5. "Fighting Joe Hooker," wasn't that fighting after all, fired after Chancellorsville, 1863.

6. Franz Sigal, fired twice.

7. John C. Frémont, another two-fer.

8. William Rosecrans, fired after the battle of Chickamauga, where Lincoln said he acted like a "duck hit over the head."

I'm sure there were more, but that's a list of the most famous ones. Why did Lincoln fire so many of his top men? Simple, they weren't winning the war.

Aug 12, 2007

What it is ain't exactly clear

If you don't see any difference between history and current events, then perhaps like myself, you found yourself glued to the TV the past few days, watching the subprime mortgage industry collapse. To be sure, that market, and the great housing boom it created, has been imploding for some time, but 8/9/07 seems, to me, to be The Date.
I can't explain it, that's for the journalists & the economists to do; all I can do is watch. You may want to watch too as it may be something your grand-kids ask you about in the years to come. It may also provide some practical information for you to use right now, or in the coming months. At the moment it's like tracking a hurricane: maybe it will be incredibly destructive, maybe the damage will be moderate, or maybe it will just blow out to sea. Who knows? Remember the crash of '87? Scary at the time, but in the end it was no big deal.
I remember back around the turn of the century, when I'd accidentally fallen into the construction industry, how the old timers used to speculate on the boom and when it would end. According to those guys, construction was always a boom & bust industry and it always would be. The thing that had them puzzled back then, was why the good times were lasting so long. Many thought it would end when the Asian economy tanked back in the late 90's, or with the burst of the dot-com bubble a few years later. And most were sure it would end after 911, but the thing kept going. It was spooky. The only thing everybody agreed on was this: "when it busts, it's gonna bust big." Were they right? It's too early to tell.
One of the things both historians & history buffs love to hash over are "high tides." Was Gettysburg the high tide of the Confederacy, or was it Antietam? Was Taft/Hartley the high tide of Labor, or was it the PATCO strike? Even Hunter S. Thompson's rollicking "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas," ruminates on the high tide of the Counter Culture.
Somehow, last week, I think we witnessed the high tide of something. Maybe it was just the high tide of certain financial practices - something for the economists to debate, over beers, in the next few decades. Or maybe it was bigger, maybe it was the high tide of American suburban life itself. Is somebody, right now, building the last subdivision? Not that it has to collapse overnight, mind you, it could just be a gentle rolling back, more like a Chesapeake Bay tide, than some stormy coastal surf. Even the ragtag Army of Northern Virginia fought on for a long time after whichever high tide you prefer to name.
Still, I wonder, will "urban exploration," the hobby of poking around abandoned sites in large cities, one day become suburban exploration? Will our kids, in 20 years, be spelunking old subdivisions and derelict shopping malls like we creep through abandoned steel mills today?

Of course, there is one difference between history and current events, and it's a big one: people I know & care for can be harmed by what's happening today. History is a lot safer than Now. I already know people who've been raked over the coals by the type of predatory lending that the subprime market created. I'm also sure that some of my old friends in the construction business will be losing their jobs soon, and that hurts.

All photos (except the 2nd to last one) courtesy of the Wikipedia

Aug 11, 2007

Hired guides can customize Civil War battlefield visit

SHARPSBURG, Md. (AP) - Would you like your Civil War history seasoned with baseball trivia? Spritzed up with a winery tour? Do you long to dissect the Battle of Antietam with a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian?
Hire a guide. Continued.

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Country Churches: ???

Being that it sits on Trinity Church Road, just a little east of Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, I guess we can assume that it is indeed Trinity Church, but I don't know that for sure. There's no sign and I didn't see a cornerstone.

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Aug 7, 2007

John Wright Store

The John Wright Store & Restaurant is the retail end of a local iron foundry. I hear they make a great wok, and a pretty good griddle too.

Wrightsville, PA
Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Aug 6, 2007

Maryland Indian tribes criticize lack of official status

(AP) Maryland's Indian tribes were critical of state officials during a ceremony to welcome the crew of a boat retracing Capt. John Smith's 1608 voyage on the Chesapeake Bay.
Tribal leaders said they were upset about not being officially recognized by the state even though they were "exploited" for state-endorsed events.
"As you can see, we're not very invisible when you need us to be an attraction for an event through the state," said Mervin Savoy, tribal chairwoman for the Piscataway Conoy. Continued.

Monuments: Washington’s perch in Baltimore’s sky

(Examiner) Long before the Legg Mason Building or the World Trade Center, a marble mammoth reigned supreme in Baltimore.
The Washington Monument has stood atop its hill in Mount Vernon for 177 years — a towering memorial to a nation’s first president and most revered war hero, George Washington.
At 178 feet tall, the once-dominant skyline feature is now dwarfed by many of the city’s buildings, yet it retains a stately posture and a popular appeal. Continued.

Photo: Wikipedia

Huge Knut

I can't has cheeseburger.*

(Deutsche Welle) Being a child star can take its toll. Few are the pint-sized performers who reach adulthood unscarred. More common are the youthful tales of substance abuse, eating disorders and therapy, like those now faced by Knut. Continued.

*Photo: We inflated Knut up a few sizes in Photoshop, just for fun.

Aug 5, 2007

It seemed like such a friendly town

Glen Rock, Pa. looked like the perfect place to do some night photography. The town is historic, well kept up, and more importantly, it seemed like the kind of place that wants tourists. There is a rail trail with ample parking, they do an elaborate public Christmas celebration every year (at night), and a good town festival as well.
So imagine our surprise when we were stopped by some local Neighborhood Watch type. After he left, the police showed up. And after that, we went home. It wasn't a friendly town after all.

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Aug 4, 2007

Country Churches: Washington Boro UMC

Washington Boro, PA

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

AK-ak-o-mak: more HBDA

We were out practicing more HBDA (history by driving around) the other day, which usually is just aimless wandering, but this time we had a purpose - a purpose driven by previous aimless wanderings.
It had to do with Accomac Road in York County, Pennsylvania. The name has always bugged me. The Accomac were an Algonquin band living on the Delmarva Peninsula; they didn't have much, if anything, to do with southeastern PA. At first I wrote it off as a road named by a fanciful developer, but the place didn't look like a subdivision, it looks older than that. Then I read about Anderson's Ferry, one of the Susquehanna River crossings near Wrightsville. The name of the ferry boat was Accomac. "Ah ha," I thought, "I bet that road leads down to where the ferry used to cross." And sure enough it did.
I can't call this some great discovery, it's just one of those little things that makes HBDA such a fun pastime for me.

Top photo: "The Steamboat Accomac," courtesy of Rivertownes PA USA

Aug 3, 2007

More neon please

See those holes in the top sign? That's where the neon tubing used to go. There aren't many vintage neon signs illuminating Route 40 in Harford County, Maryland anymore. Not many left in the entire region.
Now look at the bottom sign, it's from the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico. It's beautiful. The owners of the Blue Swallow, like the owners of most vintage motels, couldn't afford to restore their aging signage on their own, they had some help from the New Mexico Route 66 Association. The association, using a government grant, started a "neon restoration project" for the famous old highway. Consequently, Route 66 is a much more interesting place to look at than Route 40.
Places don't become desirable destinations on their own; it takes imagination, effort, and money. It seems like preservation and restoration always come last around here. There's never enough money for museums, or art, or parks. And yet there always seems to be cash enough to build money losing stadiums for rich people, or new development handouts for the petit bourgeoisie.
Is it any wonder that people are filing lawsuits to keep from moving here? What have we ever done to make this place more livable, more interesting?

Photos: various Canon dSLR's

Aug 2, 2007

Columbia Wrightsville Bridge

The Columbia Wrightsville Bridge is the world's longest concrete multiple-arch bridge, according to Wikipedia. It was built in 1929. It wasn't the first bridge to cross the Susquehanna at that location, and I dare say it won't be the last, though this one will probably be around for ages to come.
One of the earlier bridges was burnt down to prevent Jubal Early and his Confederates from crossing, during the Gettysburg Campaign. Gen. Early ("Old Jube") had been ordered to burn the bridge, so the locals ended up doing him a favor. (You can see the remains of the old bridge in the pictures above.)
And while it's true that Early had a notion to secure the bridge in case of a possible attack on Harrisburg, that never came about, and it's most likely that he would have burned it in due time. (One wonders what would have happened if he had crossed over and then lost the bridge.) It's all summed up in one good sentence at the Wiki, "Confederate generals Jubal A. Early and John B. Gordon had originally planned to save the bridge despite orders from General Robert E. Lee to burn it, and Union forces under the command of Colonel Jacob G. Frick had burned the bridge, originally hoping to defend and save it."
However, it's been my experience that the locals don't look kindly on any historical interpretation that detracts from the actions of their forebears, so you may want to avoid the topic when visiting.
You can read about it in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion here, it covers Early's report of the entire campaign, so you have to skip ahead to find the bridge story. Comparing the Union & Confederate reports of "the battle" makes for good reading, especially if you have a sense of humor about such things.
Anyway, today's bridge is quite a thing to see and there's plenty of public space on either side of the river to see it from. If you're taking pictures, the sun is over Columbia in the morning and Wrightsville in the afternoon.

Canon EOS 30D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Aug 1, 2007

Radio silence

This month's Monitoring Times magazine features a geeky piece I wrote about radio tourism in Guyana. The funny thing is that I submitted it six years ago. Why did it take them so long to get back to me? I don't know, but it's not unusual. It was the first article I ever wrote for publication and fortunately, I didn't let their indifference bother me in the least. If I had, I wouldn't be writing & photographing today. Just think of the time I would have wasted if I'd waited over half a decade for some kind of affirmation from a stranger. If you want to write for other people you need to take rejection with a grain of salt.
Of course, these days we can publish whatever we like on the web. Why put up with editors who can't be bothered to acknowledge our efforts with even a form letter, when the whole world is sitting there on the web, bored out of its collective mind, just waiting for something interesting to float by? And the more you write (or paint or photograph etc.), the better you will become at your craft, and the more you post, the more readers you will get, which will encourage you to do more work, which you can post, and get even more viewers. It makes for a delicious cycle. There is no reason not to, no excuse either.