While talking about the history of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal during the Civil War at a meeting of the Fort Delaware Society last week, we discussed the website, www.marinetraffic.com. This open source initiative provides free, real-time information about ship movements so visitors are able to view marine traffic on the Delaware and Chesapeake bays and the Canal. It is also provides details on the vessels. Many guests at the program were interested in this virtual information repository, so I am posting the link here.
Whenever I’m on the road working in some new area, I enjoy looking for fading physical traces of the past. This curiosity about the dynamics of place makes my road trips much longer as I pause to explore a community, seeking to get some view of a bygone time. That was the case this week as I was out in Oakland doing a programs for the 8th graders in Garrett County Schools at an event sponsored by the Garrett Lakes Arts Festival, Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area and the Maryland Humanities Council.
It was a long, enjoyable day as I paused in Grantsville, Frostburg, and Cumberland, MD, as well as Greencastle, PA. At these stops I slowly strolled down streets looking for things many people might not notice. These traces of close at hand history that got my attention on this Friday in mid-May were fading and peeling advertising signs on exteriors walls of buildings. Sometimes I eyed signs that were here before neon and were painted on old brick walls. In Cumberland, which had a substantial downtown business district in the middle of the 20th century, there were a number of aging neon signs touting products or services that have disappeared.
These old advertising pieces brought to mind an earlier era in our commercial past as surviving visual relics of changing business districts. They were also a reminder of the time when the advertising medium was far different. Anyway it was an enjoyable day traveling through Western Maryland and I was able to snap a few interesting photos, which will eventually find some use in the classroom or public lecture.
Here are three of the pictures.
This fine old building in downtown Delaware City always catches my attention when I visit the canal town. Located on a triangular lot alongside the original canal, it incorporates four periods of construction, ranging from the 1830s to the mid-twentieth century according to the Delaware Dept. of Transportation. The Central Hotel/Sterling’s Tavern was recently sold and there are plans to reopen it as a commercial space, contributing to the revitalization of Delaware City.
Havre de Grace celebrated the 200th anniversary of the attack on the attractively situated city at the head of the Chesapeake in grand style today. The program to mark the day the British stormed into town, easily overrunning defenses and burning a large portion of it during the War of 1812 has been in the planning stage for over two years. And on this beautiful Saturday in early May, it all came perfectly together. Streets were packed as thousands of visitors turned out for the commemoration, reenactments, tall ships, vendors, concerts, fireworks, and historical performances.
Congratulations City of Havre de Grace for leveraging your history, natural beauty, and cultural heritage resources to create a fine Maryland destination spot. Under this beautiful blue, spring sky, and as the ripples of water shined on the Chesapeake, everyone was enjoying the observance and the ambiance that makes this place a great Main Street town. The Havre de Grace Tourism Office, the coalition of small museums, and a special events committee all have done an excellent job, putting together this large event. Thank you.
Events continue tomorrow. Here is a link to the City of Havre de Grace Tourism Office for more details.
May 2, 2013 — On a beautiful day in early May dozens of current and retired Wilmington Police Officers gathered in Cathedral Cemetery to pay their respects to an officer who was murdered in the line of duty 122-years-ago. They stood in a lonely corner of the burial ground, the potter’s field, near an unmarked grave where Patrolman Charles W. Schultz had been laid to rest in 1891. While the tragic death caused a sensation at the time, the loss of the lawman was soon forgotten after he was lowered into his grave as memory faded into the mist of time.
But recently a retired member of the force, Layman Grant, picked up some research I had done on the overlooked crime, taking an interest in seeing that one of their own was properly memorialized. The remembrance of the public servant and the dedication of a headstone was completed today.
Mournful notes from police bagpipes opened the service. After welcoming guests and providing a narrative about the tragedy, Layman Grant, the master of ceremonies noted the words of the loss in 1891 “still echo today.” The officer’s case was never solved. “Officer Schultz, along with nine other officers remain on patrol in the city of Wilmington. We honor Officer Schultz as we honor all our fallen brothers and sisters of Wilmington during this memorial.”
After additional remarks by the chief, chaplains, and others the honor guard aimed into the air firing a 21-gun salute as the sad notes of taps sounded over the cemetery on this sunny Thursday in mid-spring. Then a dispatcher’s voice crackled over the police radio with the final call, a law enforcement tradition. “10-4 Officer Charles Schultz you are out of service at 11:59 hours on January 30, 1891.” With the dispatcher’s voice fading, a police siren, somewhere off in the distance, broke the silence as the men and women of WPD reflected on the sacrifice of their slain comrade.
Thank you Wilmington PD retirees and current officer for making sure this public servant will never be forgotten.
On a sunny spring Saturday in April I was in Rehoboth Beach for a talk so afterwards I ventured down to Fenwick Island to take some photos of the Transpeninsular Line. The 1751 survey for this important boundary established the southern limit for William Penn’s three lower counties (now Delaware). Later in 1763, the line was accepted by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon when they started work on sorting out the border between Maryland and William Penn’s grant. At the lighthouse is an old stone monument erected April 26, 1751. It bears the coat of arms of the Calvert’s on the south side and the Penn’s on the north side. The lighthouse, where the waist-high monument is located, was completed in 1859.
The Carroll County Public Library has digitized its collection of the Carroll County
Times. This online, text searchable resource spans the years 1933 to 1999.
The old, original microfilm was professionally scanned and software was used to allow for easy
text-based searching of the collections. This valuable addition of records for
researchers joins a growing body of material around Maryland.