Sunday, October 28, 2007

Old service stations and gas stations on the National Road in Maryland

The following are a few old gas and service stations on the old National Road, generally Route 40 or MD 144, in Maryland. In addition to the rather distinct architectural style, they can usually be identified by the concrete island in front of the building where the gas pumps would have been.

This one is on the north side of the road, on the east side of Sideling Hill.
Former gas station, west side of Sideling Hill   Former gas station, east side of Sideling Hill

Also on Sideling Hill, on the south side of the road, a bit farther east.
Former gas station, west side of Sideling Hill   Former gas station, west side of Sideling Hill

This building, on the west side of Sideling Hill, on Hixon Road, an old National Road alignment, was probably a service station.
Old service station?, west side of Sideling Hill

Between Hagerstown and Clear Spring.
Old service station, between Clear Spring and Hagerstown, MD

At the top of Big Savage Mountain, just west of Frostburg.
Just west of Frostburg, Maryland

At the top of Fairview Mountain, west of Clear Spring, Maryland.
Former service station, Fairview Mountain, west of Clear Spring, Maryland

A forgotten National Road Inn - the Harvey House

The Harvey House, a former inn on an old alignment on the east side of Sideling Hill, was built in the first quarter of the 19th century. The oldest wing is behind the house, followed by the central part of the house, after which the builder / owner expanded outward. This initially made me wonder if the house had been split into a triplex at some point - I later realized that it was merely how the house had been constructed.

Please excuse the slightly strange color of the photographs - this is what happens when you accidentially leave the white balance on your camera set to "tungsten" and then try to correct the color later.

The property was cataloged by the Maryland Historical Trust (Historical Sites Survey) - it is site number WA-VI-001. The following text is excerpted from ther report:
"The house is a long, nine-bay, two-story structure built of logas and frame and covered with shingle siding. A four-bay, one-story wing projects at the rear or west side of the main structure. Fieldstone chimneys are located at the exterior of the north gable end and inside between second and third bays and between the sixth and seventh bays from the south end. An exterior stone chimney was located at the west end of the one story wing which has since been removed and replaced with a double window."

"...the west wing and central section of the main structure were in use in 1815 as a tavern and wagoners' stop. The north end containing three ways was said to have been addded in 1859, while the south end, containing two bays was reportedly added in 1869."

"Although the building dates have not yet been established, the oldest parts of the house do indeed appear to date from the first quarter of the 19th century."

"An important architectural feature of the house is its closed string main stairway."

Harvey House, an inn on the National Road, east side of Sideling Hill, Washington County, Maryland

Harvey House, an old National Road inn, east side of Sideling Hill, Washington County, Maryland

Harvey House, an old National Road inn, east side of Sideling Hill, Washington County, Maryland

The view from Town Hill

A week ago, I spent the day photographing the old National Road, between Hagerstown and Frostburg. As always, I stopped to enjoy the view from the top of Town Hill. Much to my surprise, there were quite a few others doing the same thing - perhaps 15 or so cars - more than I've ever seen there before. The leaves were just starting to turn, and the view was truly spectacular.

These photographs are really best viewed large - click on the thumbnail for a larger version.

I-68 and a church, with the Sideling Hill cut in the background.
View from Town Hill, with Sideling Hill cut and I-68 in the distance

Farm and rural landscape, as seen from Town Hill

View from Town Hill, with Sideling Hill in the distance

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Not a milestone

Gravestone in the middle of a lawn

On the east side of Sideling Hill, while following Route 40, I came upon the scene shown above. It looked almost like a slightly displaced milestone, sitting in the middle of an exurban lawn.

Gravestone in the middle of a lawn

Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was not a milestone, but rather, a pair of gravestones. There were not any obvious house remains in the area, so I am curious as to what two graves would be doing in such a location. This seems like an opportunity for more research.

Gravestone in the middle of a lawn

Friday, October 26, 2007

Better photographs of the "Reciprocity Bridge"

Reciprocity Bridge, west of Zanesville, Ohio

I'm disappointed with the photographs that I took of this important National Road bridge in Ohio - there was simply too much greenery to get decent photographs of it.

Lady Lepere has a set of photographs of the bridge on her Flickr account. There is also a very nice set of photographs of it over on the blog Borrowed Beauty.

Another reason to visit Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania

Red Barn, Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania

If the prospect of a cute, historic town on a hilltop isn't sufficient reason to convince you to visit Scenery Hill, Pennsylvania, perhaps a wonderful burger, as reviewed over on Travel with a Beveridge is. The burger in question was served at Kenny’s Grocery. Go on. Check it out.

A plea to other drivers

Eastern Box Turtle, Historic National Road, Maryland

I found this Eastern Box Turtle in the middle of the road on MD 144 in Western Maryland. I didn't have enough time to stop, and my vehicle passed over him, though fortunately without making contact with it. The turtle was very scared and remained pulled up into its shell for a considerable period of time afterward. It appeared to be uninjured - there was no sign of blood anywhere or new scuffing on its shell. I placed it a bit off the road, in the direction that it appeared to be traveling. I returned a half hour later, and it was still there, sealed in its shell. When I returned several hours later, it seemed to have moved on - it was not to be found anywhere in the surrounding area.

Please, when you are driving, watch out for wildlife, especially slow moving animals.

A most curious use for an old National Road alignment

Old National Road alignment, west of Flintstone, Maryland

About two miles west of Flintstone, Maryland, I discovered a most curious use for an old National Road alignment. The road, now named West Wilson Road, splits off from MD144, and continues for a little while, providing access to a couple farms. Eventually, one is forced to stop, confronted by the sight above, a pile of ground up asphalt, ten or fifteen feet high, completely covering the old road surface. This continues for a while, before returning to the old road surface, a short distance before it ends, well below the grade of the current alignment of Maryland 144, as seen below.

Old National Road alignment, west of Flintstone, Maryland

To provide some sense of scale, the white speck at the end of the asphalt pile is my minivan:

Old National Road alignment, west of Flintstone, Maryland

The McFarland Road Bridge - a stone structure with a modern surface

McFarland Road Bridge, Old National Road, west side of Sideling Hill

The McFarland Road Bridge sits just to the east of Sideling Creek, on the west side of Sideling Hill, at the border of Allegany and Washington Counties. The current road surface was built from Yellow Poplar, in 1995, as indicated by the plaque below.

McFarland Road Bridge, Old National Road, west side of Sideling Hill

The rest of the bridge, however, appears to be considerably older - from the style of the construction and patina, I would assume that it was built during the first third of the 19th century, contemporary with the early construction of the road. Though the structure was modified heavily for the new wood surface, it is relatively unmodified. For more photographs of it, see my McFarland Road Bridge set on Flickr.

McFarland Road Bridge, Old National Road, west side of Sideling Hill

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two more National Road milestones found!

I had been informed that the Allegany County Museum, in Cumberland, Maryland, had one National Road milestone. To my surprise, when I called this morning, I learned that they have two - 125 M to B and 9 M to C!

These two make an interesting pair - 125 M to B is the last milestone that counts the distance to Baltimore and 9 M to C is the first to count the distance to Cumberland.

If you know of any milestones lurking in basements or museums, I'd love to hear about them.

The Five Dollar Milestone - 116 M to B

I found this milestone, 116 Miles to Baltimore, in the Queen City Transportation Museum, in Cumberland, Maryland. If you know of any other National Road milestones in non-original locations, I'd love to hear about them.

116 M to B

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Preparing for the weekend

I'm preparing to spend Saturday driving on the National Road, in western Maryland, photographing some things that I either missed or simply don't have the level of detail that I'd like. I'll probably spend the night with my in-laws in Hagerstown, then get up early and drive west, possibly as far as Frostburg. I'd like to do a better job of documenting the architecture and landscape. The current list of items to document includes:

  • Milestone 87
  • Milestone 95 - sitting in the middle of I-70
  • A bit more attention to Hancock
  • Old alignments leading to and from Sideling Hill
  • Flintstone
  • National Register of Historic Places sites along the route
  • Finding more stone bridges

    I'm welcome to other suggestions as well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The least stone stone bridge

The Landis Spring bridge, which is on the National Road, south of Hagerstown, Maryland, between Thomas Drive and Cool Hollow Road, is a curious structure. It began life as a stone bridge, but was later covered with concrete and boxed in with steel. The only visible stone part that remains is a small section of stone on the right end of the bridge in the photograph. If you look under the bridge, the characteristic arch remains.

Landis Spring bridge
See more photographs.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Another mile closer to Baltimore

It seems that I've had to change the name of this blog again - the last milestone listing a distance toward Baltimore is now number 125. I'd forgotten about some material that I found in my research in the library of the Washington County Historical Society. They documented the existence of milestones "9 M To C" and "7 M To C" in the Western Maryland Railway Station and Western Maryland Railway Depot boiler room, in Cumberland, which I assume are the same building. The people I talked to in the National Park Service visitor center there didn't know about them, so perhaps they have been moved elsewhere.

If you have any information about the location of these milestones, I'd love to hear about it.

The station also appears to have housed a milestone in rather poor condition, with the number 32 on it - perhaps this is the missing 32 M To B?

Addison, Pennsylvania - a National Road town

Addison(formerly Petersburgh), is one of my favorite National Road towns. Located in southwest Pennsylvania, just a couple miles north of the Maryland border, it was completely bypassed by Route 40, leaving the town and a bit of the rural area around it less changed than they would have been. All in all, it is two miles of beautiful road, which include a tollhouse, a watering trough, some farmland, and a strip of historic houses. It's an easy turn off Route 40, but at the same time, it's easy enough to miss.

Old alignment, Addison, Pennsylvania
This is the west end of Addison - the historic National Road is the fork to the right.

Farm landscape, Addison, Pennsylvania
Farmland, with Route 40 running through it, as seen from the Historic National Road.

Roadside watering trough, Historic National Road, Addison, Pennsylvania
This watering trough, for horses, sits toward the west end of the old alignment.

House, Addison, Pennsylvania
Just a nice older house.

Historic National Road, Addison, Pennsylvania
Note the early guard rail on the right side of the road.

Toll house, Addison, Pennsylvania
The toll house.

Toll house, Addison, Pennsylvania
The toll house - a detail.

War Memorial, Addison, Pennsylvania
The war memorial.

Historic National Road, Addison, Pennsylvania
The town.

Historic National Road, Addison, Pennsylvania
The edge of town.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Driving the National Road in Pennsylvania, the mostly sane way

After I finished my previous post, I thought that I'd continue on the same train of thought. Thus, I present, in two parts, a mostly sane way to drive the National Road in Pennsylvania.

Maryland border to Brownsville
Brownsville to the West Virginia Border

Driving the National Road in Maryland, the mostly sane way

The following are a set of maps that I created to suggest a reasonable way for driving the general route of the Historic National Road in the state of Maryland. These general driving directions illustrate a route that covers most of the scenery without extensive backtracking. At a future date, there will be maps that cover the route in exhaustive detail, with descriptions of the various sites along the way.

Baltimore to Frederick
Frederick to Clear Spring
Clear Spring to Hancock
Hancock to Cumberland
Cumberland to the Pennsylvania border

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Stone bridges on the National Road in Maryland, Part II

The more I research, the more I'm surprised by the number of stone bridges hiding in plain view on the National Road. I've made a map of all the bridges I've been able to find so far, but I know that this list isn't complete - I welcome any input you may have. Once I have a reasonably exhaustive list, I will reorder the points in the description of the map to display in proper east to west order.

The sheer number of extant stone bridges and culverts has really surprised me. I can't wait to see how many more can be found.

View Larger Map

Nice, well hidden two arch stone culvert

Stone culvert, Ellicott City, Maryland

I found this stone culvert on the historic National Road, just east of historic Elicott City, Maryland. It takes Frederick Road, as the National Road is call there, over a small tributary to the Patapsco River. The road has been widened, so only one face of the culvert remains - the one facing the Patapsco. The culvert is just west of the gas station - once you start looking for a small culvert, it shouldn't be hard to miss.

There are at least four other stone bridges and culverts on the National Road in Howard County. They've all been modified, some moreso than others, but it's still exciting to see them in use. I'll deal with them more at a later date.

A few newly located National Road milestones

Three original milestones have been added to the maps.

113 to Wheeling / 18 to Cumberland is in the Smithsonian American History Museum.

120 to Wheeling / 11 to Cumberland is in the Frostburg Museum, at the corner of Hill and Oak Streets, in Frostburg, Maryland.

79 to Wheeling / 52 to Cumberland is in the visitor center at Fort Necessity National Battlefield.

If you have information about National Road milestones in places other than along the National Road, I'd love to hear about it. I'm especially curious as to the location of all the Hagerstown milestones, 69-74.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Stone bridges and culverts

Everybody loves a nice old stone bridge. Recently, I learned that there are dozens of great stone bridges in Washington County, Maryland, including a few that I had missed, literally in plain view. These National Road bridges had been widened, such that only one side of the bridge is still stone. Also, with modern railings, the historic stone bridges may be all but invisible to the modern driver.

These include the bridge over Antietam Creek:

Stone arch bridge, Antietam Creek, Funkstown, Maryland

Stone arch bridge, Antietam Creek, Funkstown, Maryland

as well as the bridge over Beaver Creek:

Beaver Creek stone bridge, Washington County, Maryland

The stone arch bridge on the National Pike on the north end of Boonsboro is even more hidden:

Stone arch bridge, Boonsboro, Maryland

Stone arch bridge, Boonsboro, Maryland

Also, there are those features that one just doesn't see, like the Cool Hollow culvert:

Cool Hollow stone culvert, Washington County, Maryland

Thursday, October 4, 2007


You may have noticed that the title of this blog has changed slightly - this is due to certain milestones counting towards Cumberland instead of Baltimore. The title was based on the (presumed) highest numbered milestone on the road. I do not anticipate the need for any additional changes.

These milestones are also pesky when you try to list all of the ones in Maryland, as I have on my maps. You have 1-126 to Baltimore, 8-1 to Cumberland, and then those that count toward Wheeling. If you have a better solution than the titles I've given my maps over on the sidebar, do let me know, especially if it doesn't involve lots of extra work.

6 M to C

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Pennsylvania Milestones

The Pennsylvania milestones are now on the map. There are still more milestones to find, and I suspect that some might be found at the tops of some hills that have been cut into.

Milestones 96 3/4 - 77
Milestones 76 - 57
Milestones 56 - 37
Milestones 36 - 17