This is the Utica Mills Covered Bridge, not far from the Hunting Creek Fisheries. It was built over Fishing Creek from part of the Devilbiss Covered Bridge that had been over the Monocacy River in Frederick County and that had been washed away in 1889 in the disastrous Johnstown Flood. Over the years it has been repaired and refurbished numerous times.
This is not a bridge, but I saw it on Utica Road on the way to the covered bridge. It is part of a national, and even international, movement to promote literacy, organized by the non-profit Little Free Library, where you can get information to start your own Little Free Library, or find one in your area.
This is the Roddy Road Covered Bridge, which also has a oral tradition of a role during the Civil War. Damage caused by a truck in 2016 shows in the photo, which has resulted in the bridge being closed until it can be fixed.
The Catoctin Mountain Range in Maryland, which is one of the most wonderful recreational treasures within driving distance of Washington, DC. People in the area of course use it for hiking, but also in certain places for camping, for trail-biking, for fishing, and even for boating and swimming. The southern end of this mountain range begins in the south just west of Frederick, MD, and runs about 30 miles north, roughly parallel to South Mountain, which is more to the west, and roughly parallel to MD-15, which is just east of it. On both sides it is surrounded by productive farm land. Over its length, it comprises a ridge that dips a few times into passes. It runs through four parks, as follows from north to south:
Gambrill State Park, which includes several well blazed looping trails in addition to the non-looping Catoctin Trail. The looping feature of these trails is nice … you can park at the trailhead, and follow the loop trails right back to the trailhead. Some of the trails are limited to foot traffic, while others also offer the excitement of mountain biking. [Click here to see the sites in Gambrill State Park].
Strictly speaking, this mountain range does continue south into Virginia, but at much lower elevations and with fewer notable hiking opportunities to explore.
The Catoctin Trail … Each of the four separate parks include many hiking trails. Additionally, there is one long trail, which is a wonderful resource, the Catoctin Trail, maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC). This trail is 26.6 miles long, and the northern end is just three miles from the Appalachian Trail on South Mountain. In addition to hiking and mountain biking, the trail is also the site for the annual 50K Catoctin Trail Run, which runs out-and-back from the Gambrill Tea Room to the Manor Area Visitors Center.
This photo journey provides you with an opportunity to virtually “hike” this trail in either direction. [Click here to see the sites and virtually hike the Catoctin Trail].
Maryland is sometimes called “America in Miniature,” because nearly every sort of geography found in America, except deserts, can also be found in Maryland, although not always on the same scale. There are many historic sites, and some very pleasant hiking opportunities. Come join me on some Maryland photo journeys not far from our Nation’s Capital, Washington, DC.
One of my first studies in the area of religious art and architecture was of the Washington National Cathedral. Although the National Cathedral is the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, it is dedicated to a pan-spiritual view. Their vision is to seek to be a “catalyst for spiritual harmony in our nation, reconciliation among faiths, and compassion in the world.” With regard to “spiritual harmony in out nation,” they did indeed devote some effort to that, displaying the flags of the states, displaying statues of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and dedicating artwork to patriotic themes and American history and accomplishments.
I have always loved railroads, especially riding them. I also love to look at model railroads, with tiny trains busy running through tiny rail stations and tiny villages and landscapes. One of my early memories is being entranced by the giant locomotives at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, and being frustrated at not being allowed to climb on board this engineer’s heaven. At one period of time, I rode the B&O Railroad to work, which later became the MARC System. I took my son on rides on the commuter train, and we visited the Railroad Store at Union Station in Washington, DC.
As with other subjects in this website, I am currently restricting myself to the Washigton, DC area. This does not, however, limit me too much in this area, where there is a lot of railroad activity and railroad history. I am dividing Railroad World into four parts:
B&O Railroad Museum — I first discovered railroad museums at the B&O Railroad Museum, located in Baltimore, MD. The B&O Museum is quite well known, and it also has a Facebook page, and unlike my experience at the Smithsonian, kids (and I) are able to climb into the cabs of locomotives and scramble about inside cabooses. It was originally called the Baltimore and Ohio Transportation Museum when it opened in 1953, it has been called one of the most significant collections of railroad treasures, including its collection of 19th century locomotives.
Gaithersburg Community Museum — Gaithersburg, Maryland has had a B&O Railroad Station since 1884, designed by the famous Ephraim Francis Baldwin, who designed so many of the neo-Victorian train stations in Maryland. This two building complex included a Station Building and a Freight Building, which were purchased by Gaithersburg and refurbished in the 1980s. The Freight House is now repurposed as the Gaithersburg Community Museum, dedicated to preserving and teaching about Gaithersburg history, including railroad history. Just outside the Freight House is rolling stock (railroad cars on tracks), which are maintained as part of the museum experience both for adults and their children.
Fairfax Station Railroad Museum — Another local railroad museum is in Virginia, called the Fairfax Station Railroad Museum. I have not had a chance to visit it yet, but it is on my to-do list. This museum was originally a railroad center of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad established in 1854, which played an important role during the Civil War.
Everyday Rides — I love riding trains, especially old-time steam locomotives. In the past, I occasionally had to commute to meetings in Philadelphia and New York City, and always rode the Amtrak train, because I could get a regular seat that was as good or better than first class on a plane. Also, if you would like to ride into Washington, DC, then you might be interested in riding the MARC commuter train down to Union Station, from which you can catch the Metro to most attractions. But, I’m not talking here about riding a train to get somewhere, but rather just for the experience of riding history.
Old-time Rides — The B&O Museum also features an opportunity to ride the rails, called the Mile One Express. I have not yet ridden this train, but it sounds like fun.
There are also three other railroad rides somewhat further afield. They are:
the Walkersville Southern Railroad, which offers train rides, dinner trains and private charters out of Walkersville, MD, riding through the historic Monocacy Valley;
I am always intrigued by model railroads running through realistic scenery and railway stations. They can be bewitching to your imagination. One of the leading local railroad modelers is the Baltimore Society of Model Engineers, which formed in 1932, and which features some spectacular layouts. They feature monthly open houses to promote model railroading.
Among my favorite games to play are the “Ticket to Ride” series by Alan R. Moon, in which each player tries to build the biggest and best rail system while blocking opponents’ routes. You can get an American version, several European versions, Asian versions, etc.. Below is a picture of Ticket to Ride in action … you can almost feel the palpable tension and excitement as railroad empires come alive.
Here, my friends Howard and Susan, who are Ticket to Ride railroad moguls, plot their strategies to dominate Asian rails.
I am a religious person, and am devoted to my own religious perspective on the world. I do, however, also appreciate and admire the art and architectural inspirations of other spiritual traditions, which create space for connecting with spirituality greater than oneself.
Exploring the world of religious art and architecture is a current project of mine, but not yet fully developed. It’s only just taking shape in my mind, and will grow with time. I’m not trying to make a full study of this very broad subject, but rather limiting myself to the easy to reach examples I find in the Washington, DC area. Note that I do NOT make theological judgments of what I see, but focus on the inspirational and admirable views.
Below is a listing of my individual studies of religious art & architecture