23 April 2015

Monocacy Aqueduct and C&O Canal

The Chesapeake and Ohio canal is one of the best places to get a somewhat easy hike/walk on. Along the trail there is plenty of wildlife and history to explore. One of the nicer places to explore is the Monocacy Aqueduct over the Monocacy River.
Monocacy Aqueduct closest to the parking lot.

The aqueduct, built between 1829 and 1833, spans the Monocacy for 438 feet. Today, one side of the aqueduct has a fence for walking, while the other for the more adventurous does not. For the bicyclists the middle part is opened.

Near the parking lot are the remains of a grain storage area. I've often wondered what those old ruins were.
Grain storage, with my bike in the background.
 The river also seems to be a great place to fish as I almost always see at least one person fishing when I'm there. Boating and kayaking, something I'd like to do there, is also quite popular. Plenty of wildlife can be seen in the area as well.
Some sort of salamander found under the aqueduct.
Old grill found near the confluence.
There should, if what I've been told is true, be a county boundary marker in the confluence area. I took a trip down there this past week and was not able to find one. However, the rain that he had the day before caused the rivers to be fuller and I wasn't able to go all the way out to the end of the point. It looks like there was areas for picnic tables and such near the point as there are some old grills still there. There are still some trails leading to the point.

The river has flooded part of the end of the point.

 For those bikers looking to make their way down there, there are a few large pot holes, the bridge over the railroad tracks is wood, though easy to go over when dry, and the railroad tracks that cross the road are in bad shape. It's not difficult to get to the aqueduct, but there are some things to watch out for.

22 April 2015

Titus Atlas districts now all mapped

I have finished up placing all the names from the Titus atlas districts in Google Maps. There are around 5300 names so there are bound to be typos, names that are difficult to read and errors. Please let me know if you come across them.

Because of the size I needed to break it down in to four separate sections. The sections and districts are:
Jefferson, Petersville, Middletown, Jackson, Catoctin and Hauvers.
Emmittsburg, Mechanicstown, Creagerstown, Woodsborough and Johnsville.
Buckeystown and Urbana.
Liberty, Mount Pleasant, Woodville, New Market and Frederick.

The east section came out differently then the other three and also includes the first initial, something I will try and fix soon. I will start working on the individual towns and cities next. I also have all of the mills, churches, schools and assorted other items found in the atlas. I haven't put them up because it makes the map look even more congested then it already is.

19 April 2015

Lilypons, birds and frogs

As a friend likes to say, "There's more to life then motorcycles and genealogy," so today's post is on one of the more known companies in Frederick County, Lilypons Water Gardens.

Lilypons was started in 1917 and originally called Three Springs Fisheries. In the mid 1930s the US post office wanted to establish a post office there for all the items they were mailing. The new post office needed a name so the owner of Three Springs, G. Leicester Thomas, Sr., decided to call it Lily Pons, after a famous opera singer. The Postal service said that it needed to be one word so it was named Lilypons.

Lilypons store

Not only does Lilypons sell fish, flowers and anything else one needs for outdoor ponds, it's also a great place to see birds and other wildlife. While early spring doesn't have much in the way of flowers, while we were there we did see a few different birds and a few frogs.

One swan was seen, along with a lot of Canadian Geese. Both sets of birds wanted the same pond so it was interesting to watch them honk at each other.
A Great Blue Heron was seen in one of the other ponds, though it flew away before I got a chance to get close for a photo. 

Luckily, it was warm enough to see frogs out, but it was also cool enough to catch them. 
 So, if one is looking for something different to do Lilypons is a nice getaway for a couple of hours. 

14 April 2015

Cemetery Sunday

This past Sunday found me finding and photographing a number of cemeteries. My friend Bob and I found and were able to photograph three family cemeteries, know where another one is and had a problem finding one due to all the over growth. I also photographed three other larger cemeteries on my own.

I was hoping to sleep in on Sunday morning, but my body decided that waking up at a normal time of 6am was perfectly fine. Since I knew I wasn't going back to sleep I decided to use the morning light to get some photos in.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery
My first stop was Mount Pleasant Methodist Church Cemetery, which is actually in Montgomery county, but was cataloged by Holdcraft in More Names in Stone (MNIS). Find a Grave seems to have most, if not all, of the stones photographed, but since it was in MNIS I decided to go ahead and take photos as well.

After I stopped by the Waffle House in Urbana, I then went to Zion Church Cemetery. I was able to take photos of most of the cemetery, but I needed to leave before I finished to pick up Bob.

Our first stop was to the Simpson Family Cemetery 2 off of Fountain School Road. I knew where this one was because of a comment one of my other posts. When we pulled in to the driveway though the families that live there were planning an Easter Egg hunt, even though it was a week past Easter, for the kids and we didn't get a chance to stop and see the cemetery. Even though we couldn't get to it, I now know where it is.

Simpson Family Cemetery 1

Our second stop was Simpson Family Cemetery 1, which is in the middle of a field on Fountain School and Coppermine Roads. As Bob and I walked across the field we reminded each other that of course we're related to the family buried there, and isn't Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie a great family?

The cemetery itself is not in the best condition, only a few of the stones were standing, and a few were partly or almost totally buried. Most of the stones were readable, though a couple were getting to the point of being worn totally down. We were able to find all but a couple of stones that Holdcraft had listed, though with looking I'm sue they are in the brush somewhere.

Our next stop was the Norris Family Cemetery. It was obvious that this cemetery had been moved as the stones were pretty much just stacked in one area, this did make it easy to photograph though. There is one stone that  MNIS listed that was not there, however, we saw what looked to be a stone inside of an electric fence that was mostly buried. MNIS also lists seven names and I have only been able to locate in the book, I also have a photo of a stone that doesn't seem to be listed and might have been missed by Holdcraft.

Grabill Family Cemetery 1
Next on the list was the Grabill Family Cemetery 1, not listed on Find a Grave. For this one I had a general idea of where it was and we stopped at the farm that I thought it was on. The man who answered the door knew right where it was at. Again, this cemetery was badly overgrown with weeds and thorns. We found a number of stones, a few of which were buried. Right now I haven't been able to cross reference NIS with what I've found to see if there are any missing stones or not. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a couple missing.

After finding three and a half cemeteries we made our way across the county to Burkittsville to the Slifer Family Cemetery. We found the correct farm that the cemetery was located on/next too, but we were unable to find the actual cemetery. This is a bit strange as it's large, 20 or so stones, and is listed in the Titus Atlas.
Petersburg district from Titus Atlas, the road to the south of the cemetery is no longer there.
Saint Ignatius
 After dropping off Bob I still had daylight left so I decided to finish taking photos of Zion Church and since I was there Saint Ignatius Catholic Cemetery as well. All in all a very good Sunday for taking photos and finding old family cemeteries.

11 April 2015

Another county marker found

6 Mile Marker
In another on of my posts, "The things you can learn...", I found a boundary marker that separates
Frederick and Montgomery county.  The woman who's property the 6 Mile marker was on told me that the 4 Mile marker was in a field that was visible from the road. For the last couple of months I would occasionally look for the marker, but it seems I was looking in the wrong place.

This past weekend I decided to go looking for the county marker that I was told about. I first went down Sugarloaf Mountain Road, looking in the fields I found nothing. I did however, see a group of people around where I thought the marker might be. When I rode up to the group I noticed they were all dressed in 19th century garb. I asked one of the group if they perhaps knew where the marker might be. Unfortunately I was told that they didn't know anything about the marker as they didn't own the property.

The group was finishing up an historic recreation of a 19th century trail walk. They were mostly a group of teenagers that had walked from Edwards Ferry pulling all of their belongings in wooden carts. They walked about twenty five miles over two days. When I rode up they were taking a group photo and burning their carts. They came from around Montgomery county and because of their interest in history they were interesting in what I was doing. They offered me so pie, but I was interested in finding the marker.

I went back to the driveway that I knew the other marker was near, then rode back two miles toward Sugarloaf. I ended up in the parking lot for Sugarloaf Mountain. Looking in the fields I saw a whitish rock in the middle of a field. Because the last marker I saw was a black slate I assumed that all of them would be. I ended up getting lucky and one of the local homeowners was getting his mail. I asked him if he knew of the marker and he knew exactly where it was. It turns out it was the white stone that I had seen. He was the caretaker for the Stronghold group that owns Sugarloaf Mountain and some of the land in the area.

I was told it wasn't a problem to go ahead and take some photos of the marker and he was happy that someone was interesting in documenting the markers. The field I walked through had a small stream and was very muddy and sticky. I got my photos as the sun was setting, which was good since I didn't want to walk back through the muck in the dark.

4 Mile Marker
Now that I've found two of the markers it will be fun to try and find the rest of the marker stones that hopefully are still standing. 

View of Sugarloaf Mountain from the marker.

04 April 2015

Catoctin Furnace area

A couple of weeks ago I took my kids and a friend up to see Cunningham Falls. While it was a bit cool, and there was still snow on the ground, it was nice to be able to get out for a walk. We got there a bit late to take part in the syrup demonstration but there was a collection of stuffed animals that live in the area.

eww a skunk.
After our hike we went to the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant. I haven't been there in many years, and I don't believe it has changed much.

On the way home we decided to take the back roads since we had time. Along the road we came across the Catoctin Furnace. Having not been there in many years, I had always assumed that it was on the west side of US 15. Since we had the time we stopped to take a look around.

The furnace was built in 1774 by the Johnson brothers, the most notable being Thomas, who was the first governor of Maryland. The furnace is located on a tract of 7,000 acres first purchased by Thomas and Leonard Calvert in 1770. In 1774 the land passed to the Johnson brothers, in 1793 Thomas and Baker Johnson owned the land and by 1803 it was owned solely by Baker. (History of Frederick County, p. 335)

The area around the furnace has a number of sites dealing with the history of area and has about a half mile trail that takes you by these sites. While not all of the sites related to the furnace, the majority of them do. There are a total of 7 stops along the trail, 1 and 2 are on the west side of US 15 the rest along the east side. The walking bridge that spans 15 connects the two sides, a bridge that I've driven under countless times but never knew what it went to.

Stop one is Little Hunting Creek, which supplied the water to the waterwheel at the furnace which activated the bellows. The creek was also rerouted and dammed to control the flow.

Little Hunting Creek
The second stop tells of the trees of the area and that it took about an acre of trees a day to keep the furnace running. After crossing over the bridge one comes to the slag heap. Slag is the impurities that come from the smelting of the iron ore. When it cools the air inside pops leaving holes in the slag and makes it easy to spot.

The next stop is the Bowstring arch bridge, built around 1872. It originally crossed Big Pipe Creek in Detour. Now it serves to cross Little Hunting Creek and to show what bridges of the era looked like.

Bowstring Bridge
The fifth stop is a map that gives an overview of how the creek was redirected and some of the other aspects of furnace works. The sixth stop is of the ruins of the ironmaster's home. At one point in time there were walkways inside of the house, but today the ruins are fenced off.

Ironmaster's house, the walkway has been closed.
The last stop is "Isabella", the furnace built in 1858. The casting shed and roof were rebuilt in 1975, the rest remains original.
Furnace Isabella, built 1758.

This is a nice stop for some local history, can be done in a short amount of time and has something for everyone so even the kids will not be bored. I believe one can park in the southern part of Cunningham Falls state park and walk to the furnace, though I'm not sure of the total distance. The town of Catoctin Furnace is across the street from the furnace and has a few old homes and buildings, though I didn't get a chance to stop and see the buildings and signs during this stop.