Cumberland Tri-State

Cumberland Tri-State

The National Park Service is my favorite branch of the U.S. govt. It preserves and operates many of the wonders of this country, the C&O Canal being only my latest example of this.

Long ago I learned about the skinniest stretch of Maryland’s panhandle. Then, in the last few months I experienced the character-filled, historic town of Cumberland which happens to be located at Maryland’s skinniest geography. To the south is West Virginia and to the north is Pennsylvania. Continue reading

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Early Morning Old Rag

Early Morning Old Rag

Old Rag Mountain in context: a rocky peak nestled in among the rolling green hills of the Appalachian mountain range which run south to Georgia and north all the way to Maine.

Yesterday was 106 degrees hot. Today was forecast to be 104 degrees hot. For someone wanting to go on a hike, when is a thermally-sane time for an outing? Why very early morning, of course!

My rhythm for climbing Old Rag is well-established. I’m out the door by 7:30, parked and climbing by 9:00 and usually completing the loop by about 12:30. Depending upon the season and the weather, the available light varies only within a certain range. As a photographer, I’m always thinking about light and only today realized that an early morning hike might benefit me by open my eyes to new shooting possibilities.

This morning I was awake by (gulp!) 4:00 AM and out the door by 4:30. Continue reading

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Lee’s Maryland Campaign

Lees Maryland Campaign

So where did all those wounded soldiers from the Battle of Antietam go? Over 8,000 went to Frederick, MD where today you can find the impressive National Civil War Museum of Medicine.

One of the first things I heard from a Park Ranger at the National Park was “Were it not for Harpers Ferry, the battle of Antietam would never have happened.” Well, I knew enough to realize this was a big deal because Antietam was the single worst day of fighting in all of U.S. history with over 22,000 soldiers killed, wounded or missing. Harpers Ferry, Antietam, and more were part of the Confederates’ first incursion into the North in an effort known as The Maryland CampaignContinue reading

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The Six Faces of Harpers Ferry

Six Faces of Harpers Ferry

This is the Jefferson Rock, from which Thomas Jefferson looked down the Shenandoah River to where it merges with the Potomac River and crosses the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here he declared "This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic."

I came here to practice my hosteling skills before heading off to Wales in August. I’ll be traveling the U.K. again by train and also doing lots of hiking so I’ll need to travel light. In contrast to last time when I felt burdened every time I relocated, this time I want to travel with less weight but with more technology. I’ll have more cameras, my kindle and iPad, and all the supporting accessories such as a wireless keyboard. Importantly, I’ll be traveling without my six pound laptop computer and this is a frightening prospect, hence my need to test things out with a stay at the Harpers Ferry Hostel.

As usual I knew very little about where I was going. Harpers Ferry is one of two National Parks in West Virginia and it stands at the confluence of two rivers: the Shenandoah and the Potomac. Continue reading

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Scranton Has Steam!

Scranton Has Steam

I just loved this huge sign that sat atop a building across from Courthouse Square. Later I learned the reason for the nickname. Scranton was the first city in the U.S. to have electric trolley lines.

From carpenters nails to t-rails for railroad tracks to steam locomotives, the Stanton brothers had a big impact on this town. At the time when trains were just taking off, northeast Pennsylvania was a busy place. The hard coal came from their hills, the rail lines were produced in their foundries, and soon the area was a major rail transportation hub.

The last fact is what caught my attention and that of the National Park Service too. Due to the important roots of steam locomotion in Scranton and the existence of a railway yard with roundhouse the NPS chose to build the Steamtown National Historic Site here. The site has a museum, a working steam line, a functioning roundhouse, lots of trains and a whole lot more.

This place really is for those who love trains of the steam era. Continue reading

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Ricketts Glen Falls

Ricketts Glen Falls

A “glen” I learned is a narrow valley, hence Ricketts Glen is Ricketts Narrow Valley. Makes sense that here is where you’d go and expect to see waterfalls and I saw lots waterfalls ... twice!

In northeast Pennsylvania on a hike of only three miles in length you can see 21, yes twenty one, waterfalls ranging in height from 11’ to 94’. It’s pretty awesome to have such a high density of falls. Special enough to have been declared a Registered Natural Landmark and later to become a State park: Ricketts Glen.

I’m not going to burden you with many more words. The pictures below speak to the majesty of the sight; they were taken over two days. I’ll simply close by saying the only thing that could have been better is if there had been more water flowing. It hadn’t rained in quite a while before my visit and the falls were a bit on the anemic side. How do I know? Ricketts Glen Trails has pictures which when contrasted to what I saw make it pretty obvious.

The falls are a delight. Continue reading

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Harrisburg’s Riverfront

Harrisburgs Riverfront

The waterfront of Harrisburg along the Susquehanna River is well groomed with a two tier path, park grounds along the way and art everywhere. Great for a stroll or a bike ride.

It’s not part of some “grand plan” but many of the cities I visit lie along a river, the waterfronts are often revitalized, and with my bicycle in the back seat I can’t help but be tempted to take a ride. So I did.  Continue reading

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