Spring is a time for growth and revival, so what better time to pull the South Mountain Media blog out of its recent doldrums. Although it’s been quiet here, I have been writing monthly “heirloom” articles for hyper-local news site Want2Dish Frederick, covering historical sites and stories of Frederick County, MD. I’ve always been a student of history, and enjoy learning about the past of the places I live and visit.
Writing for Want2Dish has been rewarding on several levels:
- Getting my first job as a writer.
- Meeting other writers who cover a diverse set of subjects.
- Writing on a regular schedule.
- Using my history degree for the research I was trained for.
- Honing my photo and video skills.
To catch you up on where I’ve been, here is a summary of my posts for Want2Dish up to now:
Frederick County is rich in civil war history, but for my debut article I wanted to set a greater challenge for myself than the well known battlefields of Monocacy River and South Mountain. These included sites like Barbara Fritchie house, Landon House and War Correspondents Memorial, and trivia like Lee’s Order 191 and Stonewall Jackson being bucked off a horse given to him by a local Confederate sympathizer.
My first article was a light survey, but for my second post I wanted to get into more detail about my subject, and turned to this blog’s namesake for inspiration. But the Battle of South Mountain is already well documented, and I wanted to go beyond another account of the battle that preceded Antietam and connect it to the present world. I thought about what information might be
Soon after I moved to Frederick County, my wife and I went for a hike in Catoctin State Park, and I was captivated by this interpretive walking trail telling history of distillery in the region, including the true story of a large-scale, prohibition era moonshine production at this site, that ended with the killing of a local deputy during the raid to shut it down.
Another popular local hiking and biking trail is the tow-path of the C&O Canal, which was once the main source of coal transportation along the Potomac from Cumberland, MD to Alexandria, VA. The canal required the use of several aqueducts to cross wide rivers and streams, and one of the most interesting of these stone waterways was one that crosses Catoctin Creek, between Brunswick and Point of Rocks. But its beauty was its undoing, as the oval center arch succumbed to the test of time and collapsed in 1973. A grass roots movement to restore the aqueduct and a grant from the Department of the Interior led to its reconstruction in October, 2011.
Brunswick, MD is known for its annual Veteran’s Day parade, but the respect for veterans in this old railroad town goes back all the way to WWI, when an old howitzer stop at Veteran’s Park. The old artillery was needed again as scrap metal in WWII, but the Department of Defense came through on its promise to deliver a tank to replace it when the war was over.
A must-see attraction for any student of Civil War history. The museum comprises two levels of exhibits depicting life and death of the civil war soldiers, the challenges faced by the doctors and innovations they made in facing them. The museum gift shop contains a wealth of local Civil War history books. This piece also marked my first attempt at a companion video, where I mixed still images and Ken Burns effects with video motion action and panning. The soundtrack is me playing “Lorena”, a song of the era that was popular on both sides of the lines.
It being winter at the time, I stayed with the museum theme to give folks ideas of things they could see indoors. Among train enthusiasts and kids, one of the most thrilling is the giant HO scale train layout on the third floor of the Brunswick Railroad Museum. The model railroad depicts the tracks along the Potomac River from Union Station in Washington, D.C. to Brunswick (with an extension to Harper’s Ferry under construction). The second floor of the museum houses exhibits made from the donated railroad memorabilia from members of the community. I made another video of this trip, this time getting an interview with the curator that I played over the images.
March was Women’s History Month, and an obvious subject was Frederick’s most famous woman, Barbara Fritchie. This patriotic Union woman waved her flag at passing Confederate soldiers as they passed by her house, and her story quickly rose to legendary status, culminating in the poem “Barbara Frietchie” by John Greenleaf Whittier. The popularity of the story and poem obscures the actual facts around the incident for which no primary sources exist.
Frederick County has much more history to offer, and for my upcoming April article I will look at a piece of modern history – the President’s retreat at Camp David, in the Catoctin Mountains near Thurmont. Mystery and history will collide as I look at the sites origin and historical significance as it prepares to host the 2012 G8 Summit next month.