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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.

The History of Susquehanna

By Linda Tancs

The Susquehanna River, named for the Susquehannock Indian tribe, is the Chesapeake Bay’s main tributary river, stretching from Upstate New York to Havre de Grace. The Indians depended upon the river for food and transportation for thousands of years, leaving their mark among the petroglyphs visible at landmarks such as Rock Run Gristmill. The mill is just one of many attractions located within Susquehanna State Park in the Rock Run Historic Area along the river valley. You’ll also find the Carter-Archer Mansion (a 14-room stone structure), Jersey Toll House and the remains of the Susquehanna & Tidewater Canal. You can take a self-guided walking tour. When you’re finished, head for the biking trails. The park is home to some of the most popular mountain biking trails in the state.

Maryland’s First Capital

By Linda Tancs

Just two hours from Baltimore is historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland’s first capital. Visitors can explore outdoor exhibits on the banks of St. Mary’s River set on 800 acres of beautiful tidewater landscape and discover how archaeologists and historians uncovered this treasured part of Maryland’s past. A National Historic Landmark, it’s one of the best preserved English colonial archaeological sites in North America. St. Mary’s was also the scene of many notable firsts in America’s early history: the first effort to free religion from government in America, the first legislator of African descent in North America and the first woman to petition for the right to vote in colonial America. Plan an overnight stay at The Inn at Brome Howard, located on the museum grounds. Once the center of life in St. Mary’s City, it’s a perfect example of a mid-19th century gentleman’s plantation house built for Dr. Brome.

 

Plantation Life in Maryland

By Linda Tancs

A National Historic Landmark, Sotterley Plantation is the only tidewater plantation in Maryland that is open to the public. Located in Hollywood in Southern Maryland, the Colonial-era site boasts a 1703 plantation house, a rare and restored slave cabin and an abundance of outbuildings set amidst nearly 95 acres overlooking the scenic Patuxent River. Older than George Washington’s beloved Mount Vernon, visitors can also enjoy nature trails, bird watching and an array of archeological exhibits from excavations on the grounds.

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