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Archive for maryland

The Town that Fooled the British

By Linda Tancs

St. Michaels, Maryland, is a tony waterfront town on the Eastern Shore. Perhaps better known for its quaint inns, crab shacks and boutiques, it’s also, as legend goes, the town that fooled the British. That part of the story dates to the War of 1812. When residents were warned of an oncoming attack by the British, they dimmed the lights and hoisted lanterns into the trees above the city, creating blackout conditions that fooled the British into overshooting the town’s houses and shipyards. The ruse was largely successful, resulting in a single cannonball shot to the Federal-style home built for shipbuilder William Merchant. That house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of many stops on the town’s historical walking tour.

Byway Explores Underground Railroad

By Linda Tancs

Former slave Harriet Tubman is the most widely recognized symbol of the Underground Railroad movement, leading hundreds of slaves to freedom. You can learn more about her legacy along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a 125-mile, scenic road linking historic sites and areas associated with Tubman. Meandering through Maryland’s Eastern Shore, it’s the only place in the world that preserves and interprets the places where Harriet Tubman was born, lived and labored and from which she fled. In addition to the visitor center, the lands associated with the area are part of Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, affording visitors opportunities to hike, bike, paddle, shop, dine and attend events.

America’s Best Bike Tour

By Linda Tancs

Ernest Hemingway said, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” So what could be better than a nearly level bike path along 150 scenic miles? That’s what you get on the Great Allegheny Passage (the GAP), a holy grail for bicyclists. Winding its way between Cumberland, Maryland, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the trail comprises a series of retired rail corridors—the longest rail trail east of the Mississippi. Aided by interpretive signage, the path crosses the Cumberland Narrows, the Mason-Dixon Line and the Eastern Continental Divide and is dotted with a chain of cyclist-friendly trail towns.

Along the Atlantic Flyway

By Linda Tancs

Just outside Cambridge, Maryland, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1933 as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway. And what better time to visit than this year, the Year of the Bird, which marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. Every month at the refuge marks its own milestones. In September, ospreys migrate to South and Central America, and songbird migration peaks as well in late September and early October. Waterfowl numbers also gradually increase, like egrets and herons (until cold weather pushes them south). Of particular note year round are the bald eagles; Blackwater is the center of the greatest density of breeding bald eagles on the east coast north of Florida. You can take in the sights via Wildlife Drive, four land trails and three water trails.

From Radio to Radar

By Linda Tancs

The history of electronics in the United States, from radio to radar, is on display at the National Electronics Museum in Linthicum, Maryland. Located within minutes of Baltimore’s airport and rail station, the museum offers a wide variety of both static and interactive displays as well as a research library that is open to the general public. Galleries include exhibits on early radar, Cold War radar, modern radar, communications, underwater sound transmission, countermeasures, electro-optics and space sensors. You can even operate K3NEM, the ham station at the museum, provided that you show your operator’s license and are accompanied by a member of the museum’s radio club.

Old London Town

By Linda Tancs

London Town—Maryland, that is—boasts a colonial history that was all but forgotten following a change in trade routes that basically shuttered the thriving port town by the end of the 18th century. Thanks to a revival in interest sparked by an archaeological dig, the colonial seaport just 15 miles from Annapolis is now brimming with activities and interactive exhibits staffed on weekends with costumed interpreters. The crown jewel of the historic area is the William Brown House, a National Historic Landmark. Built by merchant William Brown to be an upscale inn and tavern, the Georgian-style brick mansion later functioned as an almshouse in the 1820s and continued to shelter the destitute until 1965. The area also features more than 10 acres of beautiful woodland and ornamental gardens, a colonial-era carpenter’s shop and the recreated Lord Mayor’s Tenement on the former site of a home for low-income families.

The Oldest State Capitol

By Linda Tancs

The Maryland State House is the oldest state capitol still in continuous legislative use and is the only state house ever to have served as the nation’s capitol. The Old Senate Chamber is where George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the Treaty of Paris was ratified, marking the official end of the Revolutionary War. Of particular interest is the lightning rod on the dome of the state house—a Franklin rod, constructed and grounded to Benjamin Franklin’s specifications. Protruding 28 feet into the air, the rod is anchored at its bottom to the top of the dome, which has been the defining landmark of the Annapolis skyline for more than 225 years.

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