Apr 29, 2009

April 29, 1873: Railroads Lock and Load

(Wired) 1873: A U.S. patent is issued for a new automatic railroad coupler. Within 20 years it is the standard car coupler on every American railroad.
Its inventor, Eli Janney of Alexandria, Virginia, was a Confederate army veteran who went in to the dry-goods business after the war. He used his lunch hours to refine his design. Continued

Photo: MDRails

Remembering Lancaster's lost port

(Lancaster Online) - Near the west entrance to Safe Harbor Park in Conestoga Township stands a testament to an odd chapter in Lancaster County history — the Port of Lancaster.
The almost-forgotten 19th-century port attempted to use the Conestoga River to put Lancaster on par with the ports of Boston, Savannah and New York City.
... "But it is true. At one time Lancaster did consider itself a port city," he said. "And it was possible, by traveling down the Conestoga to the Susquehanna and then to Baltimore, to go down to our city's port and buy yourself a one-way ticket across the ocean to Paris." Continued

Photo: Confluence of the Conestoga and Susquehanna Rivers (Kim Choate).

Duke Ellington

(LoC) - Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, often said to be America's greatest composer, bandleader, and recording artist, was born on April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C. Nicknamed "Duke" as a youngster, Ellington turned down a visual arts scholarship to focus his life on music. With a background in classical, popular, ragtime, and stride music, Ellington emerged as arguably the greatest single talent in the history of jazz. Continued

Apr 28, 2009

Gymanfa Ganu at Welsh Chapel

(YDR) - The Rehoboth Welsh Chapel, Main and Pendyrus streets, Delta, will hold its Spring Homecoming Weekend events on Saturday and Sunday.
... A bilingual Welsh-English service will take place at the chapel at 11 a.m. Sunday. In the afternoon, a Gymanfa Ganu (guh-MAHN-va gah-nee), or Welsh Singing Festival, will be held at 2:30 p.m., conducted by Betty Cullingworth of Toronto, Canada. ... The Gymanfa Ganu is a celebration of hymns sung in Welsh and English; prior knowledge of Welsh is not required! A te bach, or "little tea," will be served afterwards. Continued

Preservation Group Lists Most Endangered Places

(NYTimes) - When composing a list of the country’s buildings that are most worth saving, the hangar for the Enola Gay at Wendover Airfield in Utah might not come immediately to mind. But when the National Trust for Historic Preservation assembles its annual roster of America’s most endangered historic places, it looks for more than aesthetic distinction. Each year the trust selects what it considers important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of being destroyed or irreparably damaged. Continued

Apr 27, 2009

Indian Steps museum re-opens

(YDR) - LOWER CHANCEFORD TWP. -- Indian Steps Museum re-opened Thursday for the season.
Owned and operated by the Conservation Society of York County, the museum is on the banks of Susquehanna River off Route 425 east of Airville.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Continued

Thomas Lewis

(Wikipedia) - Thomas Lewis (April 27, 1718 – January 31, 1790) was an Irish-American surveyor, lawyer, and a pioneer of early Virginia. He made major contributions to the settlement of western Virginia and West Virginia. Lewis was born to John (1678-1762) and Margaret Lynn Lewis (1693-1773) in County Donegal, Ireland. His father came to Philadelphia in 1728, then brought his family including Thomas and his brothers Andrew and William over in 1730. The Lewis family moved west, following the Shenandoah River south into Virginia and finally settling near the headwaters of the south fork in what was then Spotsylvania County in the summer of 1732. John established the family farm, building a stone house for defense against the Indians. Continued

Photo: "house of Thomas Lewis, the King's first surveyor of Augusta and Rockingham County." ( Society of Port Republic Preservationists).

Apr 26, 2009

The House of Much History

(NYTimes) - My house, an asymmetrical wood-frame with a mansard roof in Bedford-Stuyvesant, sits over a mysterious tunnel. No one can say what purpose the passageway served. Coal chute? Too long and curvy. Sewage outlet? Too wide. Water intake? Too far from the cistern. Underground Railroad? Not likely. Continued

Old House #29 & 30

Brodbecks, Pennsylvania

Hack Wilson

(Wikipedia) - Lewis Robert "Hack" Wilson (April 26, 1900 – November 23, 1948) was an American center fielder in Major League Baseball from 1923 to 1934. He is best known for his record-setting 191-RBI season of 1930. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979. Continued

Apr 25, 2009

Online Museums, From Interesting to Unique to Freakishly Strange

(geekdad) - There are many great museums in the world, but sadly most people will only ever get to visit a fraction of them. Fortunately, a lot of them have an excellent online presence—along with a huge number of less-great museums, many of which have no real-world counterpart.
I recently happened upon an excellent site that collects links to these online presences called, appropriately enough, the Museum of Online Museums. I've only just scratched the surface of the museums, but have already found some excellent sites with online galleries and games suitable for my kids. Continued

Photo: National Gallery of Art

4 Things to Consider Before You Try to Join the Amish

(boingboing) - I know, I know. The recession blows. The job you may soon lose is stressful and unpleasant. And beards are more popular these days. But before you abandon your fast-paced lifestyle for a quieter, more-cow-filled one, I recommend consulting my book, Be Amazing. There are a few things you need to think about. Continued

Sale of landmark Monkton Hotel is off

(North County News) - The owners of the Monkton Hotel canceled the building's auction last June when they learned the Maryland Department of Natural Resources might be interested in buying the circa late-1800s landmark.
That sale fell through last week when the owners, brothers Steve and Pete Theodoropoulos, said the state's offer was too low. Continued

Apr 24, 2009

Frankly, My Dear: "Gone with the Wind" Revisited

(NYTimes) - Seventy years after its premiere “Gone With the Wind” remains at or near the top of many lists of the most seen, most loved, most admired movies, right up there along with “Star Wars,” “Casablanca” and “The Godfather.” In the bitterly fought election year of 2008 it was one of the few things that Democrats, Republicans and independents agreed upon: in a 2008 Harris poll, all three groups picked it as their all-time favorite film. Continued

April 24, 1990: Hubble Becomes Big Eye Above Sky

(Wired) - 1990: The Hubble Space Telescope is launched, beginning a new era of deep space observation that opens up the universe to prying eyes as never before.
NASA's telescope, named for American astronomer Edwin Hubble, was placed into Earth orbit by the space shuttle Discovery. Despite some early teething problems and more recent, well-publicized maintenance issues, Hubble remains a crown jewel in NASA's tiara.
Hubble was not the first space telescope but it is by far the most sophisticated, providing earthlings with unprecedented detail and spectacular views of their universe. The images sent back by Hubble have not only advanced the cause of space research, their haunting, spectacular beauty has boosted the popularity of astronomy in general. Continued

Photo: The Hubble Space Telescope in the grip of Columbia's robot arm on the third day of the STS-109 mission (NASA via Wikipedia).

Tobacco Barn

"Pennsylvania tobacco was air-cured, and it also needed to be stripped and sometimes boxed before it went to market. From these requirements flowed the design logic of the tobacco barn. Regional differences within Pennsylvania stem not from function, but from cultural origin. In the central river valleys, tobacco barns look like their counterparts in Lancaster County, while in the Northern Tier river valleys, they tend to look more like New England tobacco barns." Continued


(Wikipedia) - In 1903, Milton S. Hershey, founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company, surveyed a site along Spring Creek that would be suitable for his park. Hershey Park opened on April 24, 1907, with a baseball game played on the new athletic field. The beautifully landscaped park was an ideal spot for picnicking, boating and canoeing. Vaudeville and theatre productions were performed on a rustic bandstand and pavilion.
A merry-go-round was installed and opened on July 4, 1908. A 1,500-seat tiered amphitheatre was built next to the pavilion. The entrance sign proclaimed, “Ye who enter here leave dull cares behind.” Continued

Photo: HersheyPa.com

So Long, GeoCities: We Forgot You Still Existed

(PC World) - GeoCities, a free Web hosting service that achieved fame in the mid-90s, died Thursday at the Yahoo headquarters in Silicon Valley. GeoCities was 15 years old.
GeoCities had suffered a long and drawn-out battle with its health over the past decade. An antiquated service model and outdated technology are widely blamed for the struggle. An official cause of death, however, has yet to be determined. Continued

Apr 23, 2009

Homemade Bacon

(Cruft) - ... Let's remember that refrigeration is a relatively new invention. In the past, a big life problem was finding ways to preserve meat for use long after it was killed. Curing by salting, smoking, and drying are methods to prevent meat from spoiling. Making bacon was a way to save the pork belly for later use. Pork belly was also the main ingredient of salt pork, a mainstay of the military diet for centuries. Continued

Photo: Library of Congress. Story via boingboing.

April 23, 1827: Shedding a Ray of Light on Rays of Light

1827 (Wired): Mathematics student William Rowan Hamilton presents his "Theory of Systems of Rays" at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. The paper lays the foundation of modern optics, and it's only the first act in a distinguished career. Continued

Apr 22, 2009

Groups work on York County trail plan

(YDR) - The York County Rail Trail Authority and York County Planning Commission are sharing information to make various plans mesh.
The Rail Trail Authority, working with the county's Planning Commission and Parks Department, is developing a York County Trail Plan, half of which is being paid for by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Felicia Dell, director of the county Planning Commission, and her staff recently met with the DCNR to work out the scope of the plan. The commission wants to make sure it's compatible with the two plans it is formulating - a community development plan and a transportation plan. Continued

Photo: Kim Choate (MDRails).

The thrill of exploring Warner's archive of previously unreleased films

(Slate) - ... There is a particular kind of movie buff who likes to go deep, who prints out Turner Classic Movies' schedule (where you can see some of these movies) two months in advance, who will DVR a film based on the tiniest sliver of hope. (I admit to once hitting "Record program" based on an on-screen description for a movie that read, in its entirety, "1940. ***. A jealous woman destroys her family's ." Her family's what? Fortune? Hopes? Rec room? I didn't care-I was on board.) For them (for us), the Archive Collection is dangerous turf. Continued

Photo: Wikipedia

Earth Day

(LoC) - Earth Day was first observed on April 22, 1970, when an estimated 20 million people nationwide attended the inaugural event. Senator Gaylord Nelson promoted Earth Day, calling upon students to fight for environmental causes and oppose environmental degradation with the same energy that they displayed in opposing the Vietnam War.
In July 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in response to the growing public demand for cleaner water, air, and land—its mission to protect the environment and public health. Earth Day also was the precursor of the largest grassroots environmental movement in U.S. history and the impetus for national legislation such as the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. By the twentieth anniversary of that event, more than 200 million people in 141 countries had participated in Earth Day celebrations. Continued

Bird Painting, Louis Agazzis Fuertes, artist, July 22, 1899 (Library of Congress)

Apr 21, 2009

Cigar-factory memories

(YDR) - Married at 16, Betty Fife was a teenage mother struggling to find work in the depths of the Great Depression.
Inexperienced and unskilled, she had few options, until hearing about the cigar factories in Red Lion. In August 1941, she walked into J.C. Winters and Co. and left with orders to show up for work the next day.
The 86-year-old Dallastown native can describe vivid details of her first day at the factory on Pine Street -- a stretch known as "cigar row" for its many tobacco processing plants. Continued

Robert Beverley

(Answers.com) - ... While in London, Beverley had read John Oldmixon's history of British North America in manuscript. Appalled by its errors, he wrote The History and Present State of Virginia (1705), which appeared in print 3 years ahead of Oldmixon's account. In the original edition (which was also translated into French) Beverley combined shrewd insights into the Virginia of his day, sharp comments about the colony's leaders, and vivid descriptions of the natural world, all written with an engaging enthusiasm for his native land. Though a section on Virginia's early history is cursory and at times inaccurate, the book as a whole remains important. Continued

Photo: UNC

Apr 20, 2009

Spanish flu epidemic in York: 'People died one right after the other'

(YTS) - York Hospital had no ambulances except a horse-drawn carriage in 1918.
That was particularly problematic in this year of the pandemic Spanish flu.
"(B)ut even if there had been one, it could not have taken all of the stricken to the hospital; there was simply no room for all of them there," Florence La Rose Ames wrote in "That Sovereign Knowledge."
That history detailing the hospitals first hundred years starting in 1880 made several points about the homefront flu battle: Continued

Photo: Walter Reed Hospital Flu Ward (Library of Congress).

Apr 19, 2009

Bringing the Train on Down the Line in Western Cecil County

(WoCCP) - The Oxford Area Transit Service, a nonprofit group, is working to restore rail service between Philadelphia and Perryville on the old Philadelpphia and Baltimore Central Railroad, which once served towns and villages in northwestern Cecil County. The public transportation advocates say that “with the influx of people connected to BRAC” this move would provide a much needed transportation enhancement, the Cecil Whig reported in a story earlier this week. Continued

Photos: PRR Octoraro Line, various cameras


Jefferson, PA
Canon EOS 50D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Pratt Street Riot

(Wikipedia) - The Baltimore riot of 1861 (also called the Pratt Street Riot and the Pratt Street Massacre) was an incident that took place on April 19, 1861 in Baltimore, Maryland between Confederate sympathizers and infantrymen of the United States Army. It is regarded by historians as the first bloodshed of the American Civil War. Continued

Apr 18, 2009

The Thoreau You Don’t Know

(NYTBR) - It’s time to pack the old Thoreau — austere, high-minded, solitary — in mothballs and break out the new. This new model, as advertised by Robert Sullivan in “The Thoreau You Don’t Know,” is a wisecracking, subversive, entrepreneurial party boy, as likely to dance a jig and break into song as preach at you, a man who heads into Concord not just to do laundry at Mom’s, but to attend dinner parties where he plays his flute before heading back late at night to his cabin. The cabin, and the woods around them, have also undergone substantial renovations: the shack is a parody of the vacation homes of the day, and the neighborhood, far from a pristine wilderness, is Concord’s main wood supply, the mid-19th-century equivalent of “an electric power plant or a gas station,” where “the sound of axes chopping was ubiquitous.” Continued

Apr 17, 2009

April 17, 1865: Mary Surratt is arrested

(Wikipedia) - Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt (May/June 1823 – July 7, 1865) was convicted of taking part in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Sentenced to death, she was the first woman executed by the United States federal government, and was hanged. She was the mother of John Surratt, also alleged to have been involved in the conspiracy. Surratt was born to Archibald (who died when Mary was two years old) and Elizabeth Anne Jenkins in southern Maryland, in the town called Waterloo. Continued

Photo: Library of Congress

Apr 16, 2009

Abolition in the District of Columbia

(LoC) - On April 16, 1862, President Lincoln signed an act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, an important step in the long road toward full emancipation and enfranchisement for African Americans. Continued

Photo: Celebration of the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, by the colored people in Washington, April 19, 1866, F. Deilman (Library of Congress).

Apr 15, 2009

Hex house broken into again

(York Daily Record) - Jerry Duncan feels certain that if the farmhouse where the infamous Hex murder occurred were to be open to the public, break-ins there like the one that happened Sunday would decrease.
"That was one of the primary motivations for Rickie (Ebaugh) wanting to get this open, so that anybody with a curiosity could stop in, take a walk through the building and satisfy any interest they had," Duncan said.
Ebaugh, who owns the North Hopewell Township farmhouse, is the great-grandson of Nelson D. Rehmeyer. On Nov. 27, 1928, Rehmeyer was beaten to death by two men and a boy who believed the farmer had placed a hex, or spell, on them by using powwow, a form of folk healing and magic. The killing gained international notoriety because of its unusual circumstances. Continued

April 15, 1726: Apple Doesn't Fall Far From Physicist

(Wired) - 1726: Isaac Newton tells a biographer the story of how an apple falling in his garden prompted him to develop his law of universal gravitation. It will become an enduring origin story in the annals of science, and it may even be true. Continued

Photo: Portrait statue of Newton along the balustrade by the Visitors' Gallery. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. by Carol Highsmith.

Wanted: Wolfman to holler at tourists on a New Hampshire steam train

(boingboing) - Bill Farrand, the longstanding "wolfman" of Clark's Trading Post in Lincoln, NH, is retiring after fifteen years. Now the company needs to find a new geek to scream from the woods at passing steam trains for 48 hours a week:

Tax Day

(LoC) - Today, April 15, is Tax Day. From its beginnings the United States raised revenue. Whiskey and tobacco taxes provided much of the government's early revenue. But, financing the Revolutionary War was expensive and the young United States struggled to raise funds from the thirteen states:

Resolved, That these United States be called on to pay in their respective quotas of fifteen millions of dollars in the year 1779, and of six millions of dollars annually for 18 years from and after the year 1779, as a fund for sinking the emissions and loans of these United States to the 31st day of December, 1778, inclusive.

... An income tax was first collected during the Civil War from 1862 to 1872. During the administration of President Grover Cleveland, the federal government again levied an income tax, enacted by Congress in 1894. However, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional the following year. As a result, supporters of an income tax embarked on the lengthy process of amending the Constitution. Not until the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified in 1913 was Congress given the power "to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census of enumeration." Continued

Apr 14, 2009

Piece of Hanover fire history comes home

(YDR) - The Hanover Town Council decided in 1881 to buy a Silsby steam fire engine for $3,300.
Last Saturday, Hanover Borough Fire Commissioner James Roth managed to buy the original manual for the Silsby at auction for $452.
The manual, and several other pieces of Hanover fire service-related memorabilia, were up for bid in Porters Sideling during an auction of items from the estate of Vivian N. Reed, who died in January. Continued

Photo: Steam Fire Engine, York, PA (Library of Congress).

R.M.S. Titanic

(LoC) - On this day, at about 11:40 PM, April 14, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland and sank to the bottom of the sea at about 2:20 a.m. the next morning, taking the lives of more than 1,500 people. Continued

Apr 13, 2009

Charles Dickens trading cards

With Little Dorrit on PBS and another version on TCM, both hours and hours long, we've been wallowing in Dickens this past week. More Dickens trading cards here.

John Hanson

(Wikipedia) - John Hanson (April 13, 1721 – November 22, 1783) was a merchant and public official from Maryland during the era of the American Revolution. After serving in a variety of roles for the Patriot cause in Maryland, in 1779 Hanson was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress. He signed the Articles of Confederation in 1781 after Maryland finally joined the other states in ratifying them. In November 1781, he became the first President of Congress to be elected under the terms of the Articles of Confederation. For this reason, Hanson was later promoted as having been the first President of the United States, one of several myths about him. Continued

Apr 12, 2009

Old House #28

Jefferson, PA
Canon EOS 50D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Apr 11, 2009

Harford volunteers plant 900 trees for Arbor Day

(Baltimore Sun) - In the spring, a young girl's fancy turns to - well, helping preserve the environment. That was the case for 9-year-old Bethany Ingram, anyway, as she took a break Friday from her task of digging a hole in a bit of soggy turf in Edgeley Grove Park in Fallston. Continued

Canon EOS 50D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Snyders Feed and Grain

York County, PA

Canon EOS 50D & EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS lens

Apr 10, 2009

Century-old bridge moves to North York

(YDR) - People snapped photographs of a century-old bridge as a tractor-trailer carried it to North York borough Thursday.
Last year, the borough bought the 1889 steel bridge that spanned Marsh Creek along Crooked Creek Road in Adams County.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation put the bridge up for sale because it's being replaced with a new structure. North York bid $350 for it and won. Continued

Arbor Day

"By 1907, Arbor Day was observed in every state in the Union, principally through school programs. Through these celebrations, schoolchildren were urged to consider the planting of a tree as a patriotic, even pious, act, as well as a sound investment and a contribution to community aesthetics." Continued

Photos: WPA (Library of Congress).

Apr 9, 2009

Lee Surrenders at Appomattox Court House, Virginia

(LoC) - "It would be useless and therefore cruel," Robert E. Lee remarked on the morning of April 9, 1865, "to provoke the further effusion of blood, and I have arranged to meet with General Grant with a view to surrender."
The two generals met shortly after noon on April 9, 1865, at the home of Wilmer McLean in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all United States forces, hastened the conclusion of the Civil War. Continued

Photos: Caption from negative sleeve: Petersburg, Va., April 3, 1865, Dead Confederate soldier in trench. Roche, Thomas C., Library of Congress.