For the last couple of months B has been really interested in the history of The Civil War. We live fairly close to Gettysburg PA, and his class had a field trip to Gettysburg during the final month of school. After the field trip they received flyers about a free one day program called A Day In The Life Of A Civil War Soldier, and he was eager to sign up. I asked Katie
about signing her son up too since I figured they’d have even more fun together.
The event was at the Blue Ridge Summit library, which is housed in what was a train station of the Western Maryland Railroad built in 1911. It’s a really beautiful building, and the whole area of Blue Ridge Summit and Pen Mar has such an interesting history. The Western Maryland Railroad constructed Pen Mar Park as a tourist destination in 1877. There was a an amusement park that included a scenic lookout, roller coaster, movie theater, dance pavilion, picnic shelter, miniature train, photo studio, concession stand, carousel with a penny arcade, dining hall and children’s playground. The park was a huge success with thousands of visitors taking the trip from Baltimore to Pen Mar by train. But by the late 1920’s people stopped traveling to the park by train and it stopped making a profit for the railroad. The area apparently had lots of beautiful hotels, and over 100 boarding houses.
You’d never know it was such a huge tourist destination today, the area still has the scenic overlook and pavilion, and there is a small playground but that’s about it. There are apparently two dvds about the area that I’d love to see, one called The Grand Hotels Of Blue Ridge and Greetings From Penn Mar. The whole area must of really been something to see in it’s hey-day.
The Civil War Soldier event was on the first day of Summer and it was unseasonably cool in the 60’s. Luckily we live close enough that I was able to make a quick run home to grab sweatshirts and brew Katie and I some hot coffee. The program was four hours long, and the kids both loved it. They learned about marching in formation, flag drills, each job needed for loading a cannon, uniforms, and supplies. We were having trouble judging how they felt about it just by watching. Four hours is a long time, and they spent an hour and a half of it each taking turns doing the various jobs to load a cannon for firing, so we were really happy when we talked to them afterwards. They said it wasn’t too long, wasn’t ever boring, and they loved it.