Inner Harbor from Federal Hill Park, Baltimore, MD, USA



Spocott Windmill near Cambridge, MD, USA

Spocott Windmill, Lloyds near Cambridge

We found this windmill marked on the map but it was not mentioned in any of our guide books. It was late in the day and there was no one in the vicinity to tell us about it. From information found on the Internet it seems that Spocott Windmill is a replica built in 1972 of a windmill dating back to 1854 which was destroyed in a storm in 1888.

Maryland State House, Annapolis, MD, USA

Maryland State House, Annapolis

Red is the colour that hits you in Anapolis - red brick buildings, red sidewalks and red roads. The other thing that you notice is about Annapolis is that it is not laid out in the grid pattern.  The city was designed by Sir Francis Nicholson in the 18th century and he wanted to emulate the capitals of Europe and hence laid it out with radiating streets rather than the normal US grid system. The capital of Maryland has done well to retain its rich variety of old buildings, indeed it claims to have more 18th century buildings still standing than any other US city. The first State House was built soon after Annapolis became the capital in 1695 but that building burned down in 1704. A second State House was completed in 1709 but by the end of the 1760s it have become too small and was rather run down, so the decision was taken to knock it down and build a new one. Work began on a new State House designed by Joseph Horatio Anderson in early 1772. Before it could be completed, the Revolutionary War broke out slowing down the work. By the end of 1779 the builder, Charles Wallace, had run out of finance.  While the building was largely complete, the roof and dome were far from rainproof, resulting in serious water damage. The Continental Congress met here between November 1783 and August 1784 despite the leaking roof. Afterwards Annapolis architect and builder Joseph Clark was given the task of sorting out the problems. He increased the pitch of the roof and replaced the dome with a much more imposing one. The exterior was completed in 1788 but the interior of the dome was not completed until 1797 by which time Clark had handed over the project to John Shaw. The State House is still the meeting place for the State Legislature making it the oldest state capitol still in continuous legislative use.  The Maryland State House is open daily for self guided tours.

Interior of Third Haven Friends Meeting House, Easton, MD, USA

Third Haven Friends Meeting House, Easton

This Quaker Meeting House was completed in 1684 and is still in use. Both William Penn and Lord Baltimore worshipped here, and now it is the oldest surviving religious building in the USA. In 1880 a brick meeting house was built nearby for use in winter. Click Tab 2 to see the interior of the Meeting House.

George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, applied to King Charles I for a royal charter to establish a province in North America. After a long period of lobbying, the King initially granted him land south of Jamestown. but Calvert’s conversion to Catholicism had lead to him been ordered out of Jamestown  and he also knew that other investors had plans to develop plantations in the Carolinas. He asked the King to reconsider but Calvert died in April 1632, 2 months before a charter as granted for land from the Potomac River north to the 40th parallel. It was left to his son Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, to establish the Maryland Colony named after Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of the King. The first settlers arrived in 1634 and settled on land purchased from the Yaocomico Indians. Maryland was  one of the few predominantly Catholic regions among the colonies. Its capital was St. Mary's City until 1695 when it moved to Anne Arundel Town, now Annapolis. In 1681 King Charles II granted land to William Penn to repay a debt to his father, and Penn set about establishing Pennsylvania with Philadelphia as it capital. While laying out Philadelphia it emerged that the Maryland and Pennsylvania charters overlapped, the Calvert Charter putting Philadelphia firmly in Maryland. The cause was inaccurate mapping but it took a long time to finally resolve it. Between 1763 and 1767 surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon surveyed the agreed border and place markers at 1 mile intervals. The Mason-Dixon Line later became known as the boundary between slave and non-slave states.

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Inner Harbor from Federal Hill Park, Baltimore

You can learn about US naval history in Baltimore from the sailing ship USS Constellation and you can also view the Pearl Harbor Coastguard Cutter Taney. Although there are plenty of historic buildings in areas like Federal Hill and Fells Point, the waterfront area has been redeveloped for tourism. On the point outside the harbor is Fort McHenry, famous for withstanding British bombardment during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814 and thereby inspiring the ‘Star Spangled Banner’.


Roddy Road covered bridge, near Thurmont, MD, USA

Roddy Road covered bridge, near Thurmont

Frederick county, just south of the border with Pennsylvania, has several covered bridges.  Just north of Thurmont and only 0.8 kilometres (0.5 miles) off US Route 15 Catoctin Mountian Highway stands one that is still in use. The Roddy Road covered bridge was built in 1856,and has been repaired several times to keep it on service.  This single-span King Post bridge has a span of about 12 metres (40 feet), the shortest of the county's covered bridges. The King Post is the simplest form of bridge truss, with its origins dating back to the middle ages. The maximum span of a King Post bridge is limited to a maximum of 18 metres (60 feet), which is much shorter than bridges built with more the trusses invented in the Victorian era.  Click Tab 2 to see a diagram of a King Post Truss.

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- Annapolis, a really interesting capital city in a great location
- Baltimore may be more modern than Annapolis, but it still has much charm
- Historic St. Mary’s City is a great recreation of an early colonial settlement.
- The sprawling Washington DC commuter belt that encroaches well into Maryland
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Tea House, Japanese Style Garden, Brookside Gardens, Wheaton

Just north of Washington DC is Wheaton Regional Park where in 1965 the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission  engaged landscape architect Hans Hanses to design a display garden. The garden of 10 hectares (25 acres) opened in 1969.  The original design include just three different formal gardens. Nowadays the gardens have expanded to 22 hectares (54 acres with a whole range of different styles of formal garden. The good news is that admission to Brookside Gardens is free. They are open daily sunrise to sunset.

Surratt's House & Tavern, Clinton

Just south of Washington DC is a building whose owner became tangled up in one of the most notorious events of US history. John and Mary Surratt built it in 1852 primarily as a farm house and family home, but it also served as a tavern, public dining room, and hotel. During the Civil War Maryland remained in the Union, but John and Mary were Confederate sympathisers and the tavern became a safe house for Confederate spies. After John died Mary found he had run up considerable debts, so in 1864 she rented out the house and moved to 541 H Street in Washington DC, where she opened a boarding house. Unsurprisingly, the boarding house became a centre for clandestine Confederate activity. Mary’s son John Jr met actor John Wilkes Booth in December 23, 1864, just after Abraham Lincoln’s landslide re-election. He was recruited into Booth’s plan to kidnap Lincoln and exchange him for Confederate prisoners. Following the Confederate surrender on April 12, 1865, Booth’s plans changed to assassination. On April 14 Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC and he died the following day. Booth had hidden  weapons and  supplies at the Surratt Tavern and he stopped to pick them up on his way out of Washington DC. Because of this, and evidence of Confederate activity at her boarding house, Mary Surratt was tried and convicted of conspiracy to assassinate the President and was executed on July 7, 1865. John Surratt Jr. avoided arrest by fleeing the country. Surratt’s House & Tavern is now open as a house museum.

Plantation House, Sotterley Plantation, Hollywood

Although Maryland remained part of the Union during the Civil War it was a slave state and that history is reflected at Sotterley Plantation.  In 1699 James Bowles bought 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of land along the shore of the Patuxent River. In 1703 he built a two room tobacco plantation house. In 1720 he extended the house and records show that he bought slaves brought in from the Gold Coast of Africa aboard the ‘Generous Jenny‘. Bowles died in 1727 and in 1729 his widow Rebecca married George Plater II, a prominent member of the Colonial government. Their son George Plater III inherited the plantation and named it Sotterley after the ancestral home of the Platers in Suffolk, England. Like his father, George was a member of the Colonial government, but he switched sides after the Declaration of Independence. The plantation remained in the Plater family until 1822 when George Plater V sold it to William Clarke Somerville who sold it on to Thomas Barber. Barber died in 1826 leaving the plantation and its slaves to his daughter Lydia and step daughter Emeline Dallam who divided it in two with Emeline receiving the plantation house. Emeline married Dr Walter Briscoe and they owned the plantation though the Civil War and into the hard times that followed. In 1910 the Briscoe family sold Sotterley to New York lawyer Herbert Satterlee, who used it as a country retreat. In 1947 his daughter Mabel purchased Sotterley from his estate and in 1961 she opened it to the public via a non profit foundation. Mabel died in 1993 but descendants are still actively involved in the non profit foundation that keeps Sotterley open to the public.  Click tab 2 to see a Slave Cabin  at the Plantation dating from the 1830-1850 era.

Iron Furnace 'Isabella', Catoctin

Prior to the Revolutionary War the Colonies were primarily agricultural with relatively little industry. At Catoctin in Cunningham Falls State Park is a rare example of industry that pre-dates the revolution. The first furnace was built here in 1774 because the iron ore, limestone, charcoal and water power required to make pig iron were all locally available. During the Revolutionary War the furnace provided cannonballs for the Continental Army. A second furnace name ‘Isabella’ was built in the 1850s and a third coke burning furnace was added in 1873. The last furnace closed in 1903, and in the 1930s the land was purchased by the federal government. During the Great Depression the area  was transformed into a park thereby providing work for local people. In the early 1970s the ruins were threatened by highway improvements so the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Inc. was formed and they successfully campaigned against the plans. Following that success the ‘Isabella’ furnace and the 1858 casting shed next to it have been reconstructed.

Tea House, Japanese Style Garden, Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD, USA
Surratt's House & Tavern, Clinton, MD, USA
Plantation House, Sotterley Plantation, Hollywood, MD, USA
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Catoctin Iron Furnace 'Isabella', Catoctin, MD, USA
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