Bromo Seltzer???

Last Sunday Morning, I had occasion to cross the bridge and drive into the Baltimore area to drop off some things to a friend. So I had to forget dresses for this trip. Shorts and one of Mom’s black tunics had to suffice!

Ever heard of Bromo Seltzer? It was patented by Emerson Drug Company in 1890, packed in cobalt blue bottles, and used bromine to remedy all those headaches and tummy aches we get from time to time. And in 1911, a building bearing the product’s name (the Emerson Tower – now Bromo Seltzer tower – picture below) was built in Baltimore, topped with a rendition of the cobalt blue bottle! The Emerson Tower was tallest building in town at that time.

This historic structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was modeled after the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy.  Captain Isaac Emerson, the inventor of the headache remedy Bromo Seltzer and builder of the Tower, had a genuine interest in the City of Baltimore as one of his contemporaries noted, “…he interests himself thoroughly in everything tending to advance our city, and is a patron of all worthy enterprises seeking to push Baltimore to the front.”  

Sadly, the bromide concoction provided some unpleasant physical characteristics – it’s a sedative that can mess you up, and normal dosage could lead to symptoms including hallucinations, confusion, and possibly a coma! Also, at the time, up to 10% of patients in psychiatric hospitals at that time were victims of bromine! Needless to say, Bromo Seltzer was discontinued in 1975, and re-introduced in the mid-90’s, after complete reformulation, and of course, without the bromine.

The empty tower has been extensively renovated. Baltimore’s Office of Promotion & The Arts officially re-opened the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, with studio spaces for visual and literary artists in 2008.

The most interesting detail of the tower is the still-functioning tower clock, the face of which displays the word BROMO-SELTZER instead of numbers. Designed by Seth Thomas in 1911, it was the largest four-dial gravity-driven non-chiming clock in the world. A full restoration of the clock was completed in 2017. (The tower had originally been topped by an impressive 51-foot revolving replica of the blue Bromo-Seltzer bottle, which was illuminated with 596 lights and could be seen 20 miles away. But that fell into disrepair and was removed in the 1930’s)

Also inside the Tower is the Emerson/Maryland Glass Museum which houses the largest collection of Bromo Seltzer and Maryland Glass bottles in existence. The Museum is on the 15th floor and is on loan from and curated by Ernest Dimler.

Fascinating stuff. Wish it had been open for tours. Darn virus!


View at the top…

Of Mount Washington, that is! And getting there WAS half the fun (since it was by rail!)

Back in 2002, Wifey and I took a train trip north to New Hampshire (via Mystic Seaport and their Amtrak station) for a wedding (and some sightseeing, of course.)  The official business required a rental car and about 3 days.  The rest of the time was ours to spend as we wished.

One of the locations visited was beautiful Mt. Washington, with its magnificent namesake mountain, rising to an elevation of  over 6,000 ft., and its cog railway providing breathtaking views on its way to the top!

The Mount Washington Cog Railway is the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway (rack-and-pinion railway). The railway is still in operation, climbing Mount Washington in New Hampshire. It uses a Marsh rack system and both steam and (due to what locals call “Cog Smog”) biodiesel-powered locomotives to carry tourists to the top of the mountain.

Its track is built to a 4 ft 8 in. gauge, which is technically “narrow gauge”, as it is 1⁄2 inch less than a 4 ft 8-1⁄2 in. standard gauge. It’s the second steepest rack railway in the world after the Pilatus Railway in Switzerland, with an average grade of over 25% and a maximum grade of 37%. The railway is approximately 3 miles long and ascends Mount Washington’s western slope, beginning at an elevation of approximately 2,700 feet above sea level and ending just short of the mountain’s summit peak of 6,288 feet (1,917 m). The train ascends the mountain at 2.8 miles per hour (4.5 km/h) and descends at 4.6 mph (7.4 km/h). Steam locomotives take approximately 65 minutes to ascend and 40 minutes to descend, while the biodiesel engines can go up in as little as 36 minutes.

You can sense the beauty and splendor from the above…

If you ever get a chance to visit, you’ll have a great time!


A Town called Railroad!

The borough of Railroad, PA owes its existence, and its name, to what became the Northern Central, which was built connecting Baltimore, MD and Harrisburg, PA.   The  Railroad Borough Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Railroad has been described by some as a “tiny town of three hundred people near the Maryland border…home to the Jackson House B&B, a popular crab shack, and not much else.” I was there (a few years back), and it’s an accurate description!

The building stock of Railroad Borough reflects the town’s roles as a rail freight depot and manufacturing center, and reflects the continued importance of agriculture in the area as well. Some of the more important buildings directly related to the railroad and industry include a two and one-half story store and commission house, a large, three story, stucco’ed stone hotel, and a sprawling early twentieth century brick industrial complex.

The district presents a variety of very muted decorative features from various stylistic influences. These include block wooden lintels from the Greek Revival period, paired brackets and segmental arches from the Italianate period, and patterns: gable-shingles and irregular roof-lines from the Queen Anne period. The architecture of Railroad Borough is not remarkable, however, for its stylistic flamboyance — it is characterized by its straightforwardness of detailing, practicality of design, and for its solidity. Of the forty-five significant and contributing dwellings included within the district, twenty-one are built of either brick or stone. Most of the others are frame, with a few log structures included as well.

The railroad itself started out life as the Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad Company, chartered in 1828, and reached Cockeysville in 1831.  After much delay caused by the Pennsylvania state legislature not wanting to let Pennsylvania products head south and leave via the port of Baltimore, they were finally approved for a rail line and reached York in 1838, via a few tricks.  This line included the Howard Tunnel, the earliest railroad tunnel in the U.S. which is still in use today.  The various railroads that made up the Northern Central were merged together in 1854 to form the  Northern Central Railway Company. 

In the meantime, the railroad decided to try another approach to “get out of town”, and started heading towards Westminster MD, creating the Green Spring Branch.  It never reached there, but finally did connect with the Western Maryland Railroad. , after the WM started their move west out of Baltimore via Westminster. 

The Northern Central became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1861, when the PRR purchased a controlling interest to compete with the expansion of the B&O.

In 1968, ownership of the “Northern Central” was taken over by the Penn Central with the merging of the PRR, NYC, and NH.  While under Penn Central ownership, hurricane Agnes hit in September of 1972, and wiped out enough of the right-of-way, that the bankrupt PC could not afford to rebuild the line.  Instead, to get trains between Baltimore and Harrisburg, they would now go up/down the Port Road via Perryville MD.  A little longer, but other than the extra fuel, it didn’t cost them anything.

From 1972 till freight operations ended in 2005 (as a result of the double-tracking project), PC, Conrail, and Norfolk Southern operated the line, although it was “taken over” by the MTA in ~1988 to build the MTA’s light rail line.  Once the light rail started operating, freight operations were confined to approx 1:00am to 4:30am.  If a train was still on the line when the LRV’s started coming north, they would be stranded on a small siding till the next night.  This provided for a few rare daytime shots of freights on the Northern Central after light rail operations began!

Starting in 1990 (till 2005), the right-of-way was shared with the MTA’s Light Rail, which went all the way to the Hunt Valley Mall, via some new track from the Gilroy stop north.  For a while, the MTA kept a speeder in a small shed on the south side of Cockeysville Rd.  Now, even that is gone, but they still keep the switch in place to give the MTA a place to park engines or MOW equipment just on the north side of Warren Road.

The first “modern” re-make of the Northern Central came in the early 2000’s with the Northern Central RR, as a dinner train.  I rode the train at least three times…  And that closed down.  Now the NC is being operated as “Steam into History”  with a newly-constructed steam engine using historical design. 

Perhaps I’ll get there to ride “one of these days.”   Hopefully this time, I can do it on a nice hot day, wearing a pretty, lightweight dress…


The bar that Ruth bought…


It’s not your typical bar…

Chances are most baseball fans who park north of Baltimore’s Camden Yards stadium in the garages on Eutaw Street do not know the historical significance of the building they pass just before crossing Lombard Street on the way towards Camden Yards. (Until recently, I certainly didn’t!!!) That building, which currently houses The Goddess, a self-proclaimed “Gentlemen’s Club,” was once owned by Babe Ruth, and the sidewalk outside the building is where Ruth’s father died after injuries he sustained while trying to break up a brawl.

“The past exists all around us, you just have to know where to look.”   That certainly is true for this building, located at 38 South Eutaw Street. In 1915, Ruth’s Boston Red Sox won the World Series and legend has it that Ruth took part of his World Series earnings and purchased the building as a bar for his father, which became known as “Ruth’s Cafe.” Babe Ruth and his wife Helen lived above the bar on the second floor of the building during that following winter

Just two plus years after Ruth purchased the building, tragedy struck as Ruth’s father died in the street outside the building. The brawl he tried to break up is said to have involved one of his relatives.

Babe Ruth’s father’s cafe on Eutaw Street should not be confused with another establishment of the same name which Ruth’s father ran on West Conway Street.   Prior to the construction of Camden Yards, Conway Street street ran northeast across what is now home plate, through the pitcher’s mound and second base, and across center field towards the green batters eye behind center field.   When the State of Maryland excavated the area during construction of Camden Yards, bricks from the building at 406 West Conway Street were unearthed and one is now on display at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum.

Yes, the past is all around us.. Should you find yourself making your way down Eutaw Street on the way to Camden Yards, be sure to stop at the Goddess and take a moment to appreciate it’s historical significance.


Yet another unusual street name:

this one found in a recent drive through Frederick, MD:

Not knowing if it had been named for lawless behavior taking place there, I chose to drive on by and not risk any assault or vehicle damage. But I have to admit to being a bit “creeped out” by the mere thought of it. Who would want to live on Ambush Alley?

When I got home I did some research on line, and couldn’t find any firm reason for the name in Frederick. The only info about “the name, not connected with the town” was from the early 1950’s and early 2000’s. Apparently during both the Korea and Iraq conflicts, there was a road upon which the US troops were ambushed whenever they used it. Makes me wonder if the name in Frederick originated there?

You never know what you’ll find!



…being recognized as female can be a helpful attribute! 

Recently I was running my errands in a nearby town, wearing a nondescript women’s polo top and pair of women’s shorts, with my slide sandals, etcetera.   I pulled into a “strip-mall-type shopping center”, and found my way forward soon blocked by an illegally-parked car – with driver still inside.  I waited a bit for them to start moving, which didn’t happen.  While I waited, a truck from a well-known “alternative delivery service”  – NOT the US Postal Service – roared up behind.    After a few seconds, the driver honked his horn at me. 

The driver of the still-illegally-parked car rolled down her window and motioned for us to go around.  So I started maneuvering my car to get past her without hitting anything or anyone.  The delivery truck driver was impatient and started blowing his horn harder and longer.   After I got past the parked car (which was obviously waiting for someone shopping in a nearby store) I pulled into a parking place just beyond her, to go into another store.  The delivery driver finally got past both of us, and pulled into a parking place several spaces beyond my car, taking two of them in the process.   He angrily jumped out and headed in my direction, obviously to confront me, just as I exited my car.  My sandals and white toe nails were first out of the car – his first clue.  Then my purse and long hair swung into view.

I thought I heard “oh, just a dumb broad” as he stopped in his tracks, turned around and began muttering and sulking as he walked back to his truck, defeated without lifting a finger.  Guess he didn’t want to risk a confrontation that he “might” win physically (or might not – I was clearly the taller and heavier “contestant”), but he would without a doubt lose the fight legally, and perhaps be given the opportunity to find a new career in the process – if his employer chose to fire him for assaulting someone while on duty.   There was a perfect witness: that illegally-parked driver whose actions started it all!   And because I’ve already had issues with that delivery company’s service, this incident has cost them.  They’ve now lost any personal overnight mail business I might have. They’re definitely not the only “fish in the sea.”

So always remember, you never know what excitement your day might bring! It was an unexpected surprise…which could have turned out so badly for one (or both) of us.


PS: Three days later, that same delivery company delivered a shipment ordered prior to the incident above, by placing it in front of our home’s garage door while I was out, instead of the covered front porch. I rescued it before putting the car in the garage. Had I been home that day instead of out and about, I’d likely have backed over the box the next morning! Another “nail in their coffin.”

The change in plans…

Because of a transient eye problem, I had to end up eliminating two days of sightseeing (and two nights in motels.) Instead, I settled for one day of sightseeing in Western Maryland, and one night in a motel, near where I would pick up Wifey the next day. Some of the sights I visited were:  

The first stop (first pic above) was the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, where an outdoor display is interurban #168 from the Hagerstown & Frederick Railway. (Picture 1 above.)  Hagerstown trolley service was devastated in 1917 when a fire destroyed the car barn and all of the streetcars and interurbans inside.  One of the victims of this fire was a wood bodied Brill interurban numbered 168.  The company quickly ordered replacement cars and received this replacement #168.  This car was the first steel-sided trolley in the system and frequently traveled both the main line to Frederick and the Williamsport branch.  It was one of three cars involved in the Last Trolley trip to Williamsport on August 4, 1947.    After retirement the car was moved alongside the Potomac River where it served as a cabin until the 1970s.  It was acquired by a model railroad club and sat outside the Hagerstown Fairgrounds for many years before being moved to its present home and donated to the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum. 

Next, I drove about 7 miles west of Hagerstown on US-40, the old “National Road”, to the Wilson Bridge which carried the highway over Conococheague Creek. (Pictures 2 & 3 above.) At 210 ft, this 5-arch bridge was built in 1819, and was replaced by the I-70 bridge to its south circa 1970, but left open. However, damage from Hurricane Agnes in 1972 forced its closure to vehicular traffic. It’s the longest of Washington County’s stone bridges.

Then it was on to another batch of historic sites, and I finally stopped for the night at a motel in West Virginia!

I suspect that wearing my mask indoors took away opportunities for the few bystanders to evaluate my gender, and they went with that indicated by my clothes and general appearance/demeanor.   While most sites I visited were sans staff and with few visitors, whenever I interacted with people, they interpreted me as a woman.   The day before I picked up Wifey, I chose another of Mom’s black tunic tops and my white skirt, with white sandals.  The next day, I removed the skirt and added a pair of white shorts just before picking Wifey up. And there was no issue about my attire.

Due to the pandemic, I carried my own refreshments and meals, to avoid being around people not wearing masks while in restaurants.  Only once did I go inside for lunch – the day I picked up Wifey – and that was only to scoot into a gas station and buy us prepackaged cold sandwiches for our lunch.   The downside of not using restaurants…fewer chances to socialize.   (Maybe someday we can collectively get our lives back to some semblance of “normal.”) 

Restrooms were not an issue…the “real ones” at parks and historic sites were closed. In their place, many had installed porta-pots.  Which I used – when you gotta go, you gotta go.  Not my favorite thing, of course, but I carried hand sanitizer. (And used it liberally!) Because the containers of sanitizer with each porta-pot either were already empty, or more often, had been stolen…

It was a fun week, and I plan to try to take in the sights I had to miss because of the “changed plans” sometime later this year.


I found ’em…

Today one of my objectives was to find some airplanes. 

And there were places to look for them.  We have a few aviation museums on the Delmarva, and those were my aim.  I actually did get to one of them, but unfortunately could not get any really good selfies.  And I had to wear my ballet flats – I wanted to walk around the planes, which are usually parked on the grass, and didn’t want to ruin my sandals!   

This one picture will have to do:

After I was done looking around, I found a gaggle of guys my age standing around, telling war stories and talking about flying. I listened for a while but didn’t have much to add, so I left for home. At sun-up the next day, I knew I had some errands to run in town.  Which meant “no dress.”  I put on one of Mom’s black tunics, white shorts, white slide sandals and all my other accessories. 

At the grocery store, when I  reached the check-out counter, the clerk didn’t’ hesitate to address me as female, and when she finally saw my nails close-up, she wanted to know all about them.  (Fortunately there was nobody else in line!  Don’t we just love to “girl talk?”)  She would like to have a set like mine – in all acrylic since she wants them to last more than a week or two. (I was silently agreeing with her, and thinking how nice it would be!)

While there were still a couple days till I pick Wifey up from her trip. I’d made big plans for a couple of days of distant touring – with 3 overnight stays. But due to a transient eye problem which required an impromptu visit to “urgent care”, I had to switch from contacts to my old glasses, and abandon those plans. Plans changed. Only 1 night out, the rest day trips.

And I have a few things to do around the house, but I can do them in dresses. Just hope the doorbell doesn’t ring!


Out and about…

For this longer day, I elected to “get dressed.”   There was a lot on the day’s agenda.  Before my first tour stop, I detoured to my favorite isolated little boat launch site, to get some pictures for the day. 

Today’s attire was my new blue/black/white floral dress and off-white sandals (1st pic below):

I made a number of sightseeing stops.  These included (but were not limited to) the Bucktown Village Store (on the “Harriet Tubman Byway, 2nd pic below), where slave Harriet Tubman carried out her first act of “defiance against her owner ” back in 1835 – which was one of the “seeds” which grew into the so-called Underground Railroad to free the slaves, and also the Bestpitch Ferry bridge (site of a former ferry across the Transquaking River, 3rd pic below) – another stop on the Byway.  The old wooden bridge itself was closed and under repair, allowing some good pictures of its underpinnings. 

I visited sites in both Maryland and Delaware, as there are many worth seeing.  No, there were not many direct interactions with people. At no time did I feel unsafe, and I noticed no “side-eyes” (from the few nearby pedestrians) cast in my direction. Yes, it was a long day, and totally worth the drive. And after numerous other sightseeing stops, lastly was the Denton (MD) Steamboat Wharf. During the 1850’s steamboats loaded with passengers and freight departed Denton weekly, headed for Baltimore. It also played a part in the Underground Railroad.

Wearing my dress was extremely comfortable, particularly in the hot weather!  We’ll see if tomorrow’s dress is just as comfortable!