MD Catoctin Mountain Range

Catoctin Mountain Range of Maryland

<< Return to Maryland Hiking and History

View of Catoctin Mountain Range from farmland

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:

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].

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MD Maryland


Maryland Hiking and History

Image of Maryland State Flag Flying

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.

Visit Hiking Selector (next) >>
Visit Hisitory Selector (below) >>
Visit Map to view sites to be visited (bottom) >>

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Click to see one of these opportunities for hiking in nature in Maryland

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Click to see one of these opportunities for exploring history in Maryland

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Map of Maryland with red dots indicating points to be visited

View this map to find location of above sites.

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RAA National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral
<< Return to Religious Art and Architecture

Base of a stone column illuminated by colors

Visit the National Cathedral Photo Gallery Selector (below) >>

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.

The cathedral, consistent with its vision of “spiritual harmony” has led and participated in Moslim/Christian summits since 2010. In November of 2014, the Cathedral invited Moslims to an Islamic prayer service led by Ebrahim Rasool in the cathedral. Some woman rudely interrupted the service, but was immediately led away.



Click on one of these locations to see photos from that area.

RR Railroad Journeys

Railroad Journeys

Big steam engine viewed from the front and looking antique

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:

Happy Railroading!

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Railroad Museums
Visit the Photo Gallery for the B&O Museum.
Visit the Photo Gallery for the Gaithersburg Community Museum.

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.

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Riding the Rails

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.

Trolley Museum — One exciting opportunity is the National Capital Trolley Museum, where you can ride a variety of trolley cars around a wooded area. I actually remember the one that ran in the Washington, DC area, and riding it again is so nostalgic. The National Capital Trolley Museum is quite well know locally. Also, it has a Facebook page.

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:

Kids' Trains — For kids of all ages there is a train at Wheaton Regional Park, off of Georgia Avenue, and another kid train in the Cabin John Park near Tuckerman Lane.

Riding the kids train in Wheaton Regional Park

I’m not a kid anymore, but something about riding the kids train brings out the kid in me … 🙂

Here I was riding the kids train in Wheaton Regional Park.

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Model Railroads

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.

My friend Howard is active in the Sykesville modeling club, known as the Sykesville and Patapsco Railway. Howard has a current project of creating a model of a Civil War era iron furnace, which helped to denude the lands all around Sykesville at the time. Also, Howard’s son Sol is active in a modelers blog-site known as the Newport Central: An adventure in Urban N Scale.

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Railroad Games

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.

Howard and Susan playing Ticket to Ride game

Here, my friends Howard and Susan, who are Ticket to Ride railroad moguls, plot their strategies to dominate Asian rails.

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RAA Religious Art & Architecture

Religious Art & Architecture

Base of a stone column illuminated by colors

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