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The Story of Los Angeles Dodgers

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Yes, we are talking baseball.  It is still baseball season with the World Series in full swing.  What is it about baseball?  Well, you have the Los Angeles Dodgers, a major league baseball team that play at Dodger Stadium in, of course, Los Angeles, California.  From April to October they played 162 regular season games, and they have won the National League Pennant.  They are now playing World Series of which they have succeeded in winning a few times, and they hope to defeat the Boston Red Sox to become World Series Champions again.

Now some of you are saying, “I love baseball.  It is one of the most unique sports ever played.  As for the Los Angeles Dodgers, they are a baseball team, and I am not a Dodgers fan, and they have nothing to do with railroads.  Therefore, I will be dodging the Los Angeles Dodgers as I have always done.”

That is a very interesting thought.  The question is where the name ‘Dodgers’ came from.  For some people, it would not be a name that you would choose for any sports team.

Some of you are saying, “Maybe they came up with the name because they had to dodge things that were being thrown at them, or maybe it is named after a man or pet named Dodger.”

Those are a good answers, but neither one is the correct answer.  Where did the name come from?

They are the Los Angeles Dodgers, but they were not always in Los Angeles.  The team moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn, New York, and it is here where the name originates.  The original name was the ‘Trolley Dodgers’ because people were dodging the trolleys as they came down the streets of Brooklyn.  The name was eventually shortened to Dodgers, and they have had that name ever since.  They did win the 1955 World Series, but their time in Brooklyn was short as they had a hard time finding a spot for a new stadium, and they were up against two other local baseball teams (Giants and Yankees).  In 1957, they played their last season in Brooklyn, and the team was moved to Los Angeles the next year.  You can say that the team moved from a city with streetcars to a city that has lots of streets with lots of cars.

Next time you are watching baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers are playing, think about a team that derived from the streetcars of Brooklyn.

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Autumn and the Railroad

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There is a crisp coolness in the air.  Autumn has arrived.  The leaves on the trees are changing color, and they will eventually detach from the branch and fall to the ground.  It is a time when many people flock to the forest.  Some will hike.  Some will drive.  Some will take the train.

People arrive at the train station.  They get their tickets.  The train comes.  People get on the train.  The hoot toots.  The whistle blows.  The train has begun the journey.  All around you the colors of fall are on display.  The kids have their faces glued to the windows.  The lady has her bare feet across her man’s lap.  Two elderly men are just sitting talking about the good old days.  The train rolls down the track crossing bridges and grade crossing and passing through rock cuts and tunnels.  Everyone is enjoying the ride.

Enjoy the train ride through the autumn leaves.  Let the memories last for a lifetime.

Gathland State Park, Burkittsville, Maryland

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You have heard of Gathland State Park in Burkittsville, Maryland.  You probably would not think you did, but if you have heard of the Blair Witch Project, then you have heard Gathland State Park as this is where the Blair Witch Project took place.  It was the mountain home of George Alfred Townsend, a Civil War journalist who bought the land in 1884 because of its proximity to the Antietam Battlefield and because of the South Mountain Battlefield of which a portion of the battlefield is within the park boundaries.  The property consisted of close to twenty structures.  The name of the park comes from his initials ‘G.A.T.’ with the ‘H’ on the end.  Today, two of the remaining structures are a museum depicting the Battle of South Mountain, the first major Civil War battle in the state of Maryland that is often overshadowed by a more famous battle at Antietam which is to the west.  There is also the Civil War Correspondents Memorial Arch which is the main attraction to the park.  There are also a few ruins of structures to include a mausoleum, and for you hikers you can walk the Appalachian Trail which passes through the park right past the historic area.  Everywhere you step in this park you will be stepping on history.

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Now some of you are saying, “That is so amazing.  There is so much history here, but there is no railroad here.  With the Blair Witch here and no railroad here, you will not see me here either.”

You have a great point.  With all of the history in this park, there is no railroad.  There is just the main road that runs through the park plus a road that runs north plus the Appalachian Trail, but there is absolutely no railroad in this park.  Therefore, you have no reason to visit this park, and, of course, the famous Blair Witch will frighten you away anyway, but since there is no railroad here, you will not be coming here anyway.

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What does the railroad have to do with Gathland State Park or with the Battle of South Mountain?  That is a very interesting question.  There was never a railroad here nor are there any future plans to build one here.  Here is the answer to the question.

Gathland State Park is on Gapland Road with Arnoldtown Road running north.  Go east on Gapland Road, and you will come to the town of Burkittsville.  It is a small town with few people.  Go west and you will cross Maryland Route 67 and find yourself in the small town of Gapland.  Other that a small park, the town does not look like it has much of anything, but you drive on, and you notice a little long hump with trees growing on top.  You begin to think that it looks like it may be a railroad bed.  That is because it is a railroad bed.

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When George Alfred Townsend traveled to and from his mountain home, he did so by way of the railroad in Gapland.  He would ride down to the town and take the train to anywhere he needed to go.  The line was a spur line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad that eventually connected to a main line that ran through Maryland.  Today, it is mainly overgrown with trees, but you could visit the town of Keedysville and see the ruins of one of the trestles.

Gathland State Park is located on Gapland Road one mile west of the town of Burkittsville and Maryland Route 17 and town miles east of Gapland and Maryland Route 67.  The museum is open in the spring, the summer and the fall but closed in the winter.  The park itself is open year around with the Appalachian Trail accessible day and night.  Admission to the museum is free, and parking is available on site.  You can get more information about the park and the history at http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/western/gathland.aspx.

The next time you are driving around and see signs for Gathland State Park, do not think of it as another state park.  Think of it as a home of a man who made great use of the railroad.  Oh!  Do not worry about the Blair Witch.  She will not bother you.

Lincoln Railroad Station, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

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In the early years of passenger railroading, towns that were on the rail line would build a train station where trains would stop to pick-up and discharge passengers.  One of those towns would be Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  When the Italian Villa style Gettysburg Railroad Station was built in 1858, it operated like any other railroad station.  Passengers waited for the train.  The train came.  Passengers got off and go on.  The train departed the station.

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In just a few short years, everything changed.

The American Civil War began in 1861.  On July 1, 1863, the Confederate Army marched north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and there was a three day clash in and around Gettysburg.  During this time, the train station became a hospital for wounded Union soldiers.  When the Confederates were push out of Gettysburg, the wounded soldiers were located to another building, and it began to operate as a train station again.

Months later, another event took place.

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On November 18, 1863, a man arrived at the Gettysburg Railroad Station.  He had a mission.  Who was he and what was his mission?  That man was Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States of America, and he came to deliver what many say is his greatest speech, The Gettysburg Address.

After that, it was just the Gettysburg Railroad Station until December 31, 1942 when the last passenger train bound for Baltimore left the station.

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Today, the Gettysburg Railroad Station is now the Lincoln Railroad Station.  It is no longer and active train station but a museum.  Inside, you can see displays of how the depot originally looked in it days of service.  You can read up on the history of the station.  In a short time, you will realize that this was not just your normal train station but a place where American history took place.  Oh, if you are fortunate, you may see a passing train.

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The Lincoln Railroad Station is operated by the Gettysburg Foundation.  It is located at 35 Carlisle Street (Business U.S. 15) in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania just one block north of the town square.  Admission is free, but donations are generously accepted to help with the costs of keeping the museum running.  It is open every day between Memorial Day to Labor from 10:00am to 5:00pm.  It is open from Friday to Sunday in March, April, May, September and October.  It is open select days in November and December.  It is closed in January and February.  The museum has no parking.  Only metered parking or garage parking is available.  You can also park at the Visitor Center and ride a free shuttle through the town.  You can get more information about the train station and the times the station is open plus information on nearby parking garages at https://www.gettysburgfoundation.org/gettysburg-lincoln-railroad-station/.

Next time you visit Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, visit that ordinary railroad station that become a railroad stop for American history.

 

The Story of Ernest “Mooney” Warther

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Who is Ernest Warther?  Very few people could probably answer that question without using their internet search.  Born on October 30, 1885 in a one room schoolhouse in Dover, Ohio as the youngest of five children, he learn the value of hard work after his father passed away when he was three years old leaving his mother alone with the five children.  His first job was herding cows for one cent a cow which gave him the nickname ‘Mooney’.  While walking through the field, he discovered an old rusty pocket knife.

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This old rusty pocket knife changed his life forever.

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He began carving things out of wood, and through the years, he became a master of carving many great works.  Dropping out of school in the second grade, he went to work at a sheet and tin mill to help support his already struggling family, but he continued carving.  His hobby would become his masterpiece.  He was known as the ‘World’s Master Carver’, a title that was given to him in the 1920’s by the Passion Carvers of Oberammergau.

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Today, you can visit the Warther Carving Museum in Dover, Ohio.  You can stroll through the exhibits and see his great works of which there are many.  After looking around, you will have a great appreciation for Earnest Warther.

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Some of you are saying, “That is amazing.  A boy finds a knife and starts carving, and he gets good at it.  He even gets his stuff put into a museum.  Yippee!  There are millions of people who carve things and get their stuff into a museum.  He may sound like a great guy, but my interest is railroads.  Therefore, you will most likely see ‘me’ getting ‘farther’ away from the ‘Warther’ Museum.”

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Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time for you to get to know a man named Ernest Warther.

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As mentioned, Ernest Warther was a master carver who carved many great works in his workshop, and his works are on display in the museum.  He did have another great hobby.  However, we must mention his greatest disappointment.  What was his greatest disappointment?  The greatest disappointment that Ernest Warther had was the end of the steam locomotive.  Yes, folks.  His second hobby was watching the steam locomotives go by, and he carved the steam locomotive more than anything else, and you will have plenty of steam locomotives on display in the museum.

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Some of you are saying, “That is great.  A man carved steam locomotives.  You know?  There are people in my neighborhood that carve steam locomotives, and I have been to art shows where people have carved out steam locomotives.  This is nothing new.  There is no reason to visit this museum when I can see the exact same thing at my local art show.  Besides, I will save gas by not visiting this museum.”

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You have a very great point.  There are many steam locomotives have been carved out of wood, and you can visit your local art show or art museum to see them.  Therefore, it would not be worth your time to visit the Warther Carving Museum.  The one question that you must ask is when you see these carved locomotives at these art shows, how many of these locomotives can operate on tracks if you built tracks for them?

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Some of you are astounded by the question.

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What makes Ernest Warther’s carvings different is that he not only carved out the steam locomotive, but that on some of those carvings he created moving parts.  You have read correctly.  When carving the locomotive, he carved out the wheels and the shaft so that they could move like an actual working locomotive.  The shaft moves the large wheels and even the bell moves although it has no sound.  Does your local art fair have that?

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As you enter the parking lot for the museum, you will see a red caboose from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad that you can actually enter and look around.  There is also a steam engine, a hand car and the old Dover telegraph office.  As you walk up to the museum, you will enter the garden, and you will walk across a bridge that is designed with the floor as a railroad track.  This Swiss style garden was designed by his wife, Frieda.  In this design she used raised beds like the gardens in Switzerland, and she created the garden for everyone to enjoy.

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The Warther Carving Museum houses the work of Ernest Carver, and the museum remains in the ownership of the Warther family.  The museum consists of Ernest Wather’s carvings, his workshop where he did all of his carvings, the home of Ernest and Frieda, a garden, the park featuring the railroad displays and a gazebo and a display of Frieda’s button collection.  You can also look inside the knife factory where knives are made, and you can stroll through the gift shop where you can buy a knife that was made in the factory.  By the way, the park is next to an active railroad line, and you may be fortunate enough to see a passing train.

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The Warther Carving Museum is located at 331 Karl Avenue in Dover, Ohio.  The entrance to the museum is at the intersection of Tuscarawas Avenue (Ohio Route 211) and Slingluff Avenue.  It is just west of the interchange with Interstate 77, U.S. 250 and Ohio Route 39.  The museum is open seven days a week all year round from 9:00am to 5:00pm.  (10:00am to 4:00pm in January and February.)  You can go to www.thewarthermuseum.com you get information about admission and to read more into the life of Ernest Warther and to watch a video of him carving and working on one of the steam locomotives.  Be warned.  The more you read, the more you will want to visit.

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The next time someone tells you that they have seen a locomotive carved out of wood, tell them to visit the Warther Carver Museum where they can see a real locomotive carved out of wood.

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Montpelier, the Home of James and Dolley Madison, Montpelier Station, Virginia

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James Madison was the fourth President of the United States of America.  Before he was elected to the Office of the Presidency, he was one of the founding fathers who drafted the Constitution for the nation.  He then served as the Secretary of state under President Thomas Jefferson.  During his presidency, he presided over the War of 1812 where he was forced out of the White House due to the attack of the British who marched on Washington burning the White House and many other buildings.  After his presidency, he and his wife Dolley and his family left the White House and moved back to his lifelong home at Montpelier in central Virginia.  He and his family lived at Montpelier, and he remained there until his death, and he is buried at the cemetery also located Montpelier.

Today, you can visit the home of James Madison and his family.  You can take a guided tour of the family mansion and see the famous temple that is near the home.  You can take a walk through the gardens, and you can see the rebuilt slave quarters and the award winning exhibition The Mere Distinction of Colour.  You can step into the lab where archeologists are looking through their discoveries.  There are a few galleries that you can explore.  You can also hike a few trails through the woods, and you can visit the family cemetery and see where James and Dolley are buried.  A visit to Montpelier is a day very well spent, and you will get to know the life of the Madison family.

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Now some of you are saying, “Wow!  That is so cool.  James Madison was a great man for giving us the Constitution, and he had a great wife who was very supportive of his efforts.  It would be great to visit this place.  There are a few issues that I do have.  First of all, there are no railroads here.  Second, although he may have been alive when the railroad was alive and running, he was never seen riding a train.  Plus, there were no railroads around Montpelier until after his death.  Since the Madison family had nothing to do with railroads, I will have nothing to do with Montpelier.”

Those are very valid points.  As far as it is known, James Madison never rode a train.  However, after his passing, his wife, Dolley did ride the train between Washington D.C. and New York City, and it is said that she may have taken a train ride between Washington D.C. and Richmond Virginia.  In her writings to a friend, she wrote about how much she enjoyed riding the train, but she never rode the train to Montpelier.  What does this have to do with the Madison’s at Montpelier and the railroad?  The answer is nothing.  That will dampen your spirits to visit Montpelier, but Montpelier itself does have something to do with the railroad.

As mentioned, Montpelier was the home of James Madison and his family.  The property consists of the mansion, the gardens, a small temple, the rebuilt slave quarters, an archeological lab, galleries, hiking trails and the family cemetery.  The property also consists of the Gilmore Cabin and an old train depot.  Some of you have fallen out of your seat at the mention of a train depot, but you have read correctly.  There is a train depot at Montpelier.  Built in 1910 to serve the town of Montpelier, it consisted of two waiting rooms: one for the ‘whites’ and one for the ‘colored’.  (Laws during the time required separate waiting rooms.)  There is also the ticket office where the station agent sold the tickets and also distributed the mail.  During its time of service, the depot was a flag stop (meaning that the train only stopped when passengers requested to stop here or a passenger is waiting), and the depot served passengers, freight and a post office.  There were platforms on each side of the tracks for passengers to board and de-board the train.  Side tracks allowed trains to unload freight at the freight house, and there was a trestle built for unloading coal.  Passenger service ended in 1967, and freight service ended in 1974, and the depot closed.  The side track was eventually taken up.

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Today, the depot remains and has been restored to its 1910 look.  The main railroad line still passes the depot, and, if you are fortunate enough, you may see a passing train.  You can also see where the passenger platforms were located.  A short ways from the depot is the ruins of the old coal trestle.  The depot houses the post office for Montpelier where you can get your letters stamped and mailed.

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Montpelier is open seven days a week, but hours vary throughout the year.  You will want to plan about two hours to do the house tour and the grounds plus an extra hour for the Gilmore Cabin and Train Depot.  It is located at 11350 Constitution Highway (Virginia Route 20) in Montpelier Station, Virginia.  (This is east of U.S. 33 in Barboursville and west of U.S. 15 in Orange.)  You can go to https://www.montpelier.org to get more information at Montpelier, admission, the hours for your day of your visit, read up on the lives of James and Dolley Madison and to purchase tickets.

Come see Montpelier, the home of James Madison, President of the United States of America, the father of the United States Constitution.  Come and see the train depot where visitors once rode the train to visit Montpelier.

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The Rappahannock Railroad Museum, Fredericksburg, Virginia

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You have your everyday typical small railroad museum, and you have the Rappahannock Railroad Museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  When you arrive, you will notice the two cabooses: one from the Fredericksburg, Richmond and Potomac Railroad and the other from the Norfolk and Western Railroad.  You then see a box car from Conrail and a baggage car from the Pennsylvania Railroad.  These for cars house the museum.  Inside you will see a few model train displays and memorabilia from the Fredericksburg, Richmond and Potomac Railroad to include old paintings and photos.  The RF&P caboose is set up like a normal caboose.  You then walk around outside and see the old signals and repair equipment.  There is even the passenger shed that is a replica of the old sheds that you saw along the railroad lines in years past.  All of these cars and maintenance equipment is displayed on spur lines of the CSX main line.

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If you had visited this museum in the old days, this would have been all that you would have seen.  You now have a reason to revisit this museum.

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The museum was able to acquire two trailers.  The one trailer displays more railroad memorabilia.  The other houses three model train displays.  You have the one HO scale display.  Then you have the smaller N scale display.  Then you have the larger O scale display.

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You may think that this is everything, but it is not.  There is the most important thing at the museum.

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How can you come to the museum and not ride the Little Yellow Train?  Maintenance of Way cars are assembled together to form a train, and you can ride this train along the spur track crossing two grade crossings to include the one at Virginia Route 2 and end at the main CSX line.  If you are fortunate enough, you may see an Amtrak or CSX train pass by.  When you return to the museum, you may want to take another ride.

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What appears to be a small museum has so much on the inside.  They go to great lengths to display the history of the Fredericksburg Richmond and Potomac Railroad as well as the importance of maintaining the tracks to ensure that the trains and the people stay safe as they roll on down the line.

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The Rappahannock Railroad Museum is located at 11700 Main Street in the Joseph Mills Industrial Park in Fredericksburg, Virginia just off Virginia Route 2 and U.S. Business Route 17.  It is easily accessible from Interstate 95, U.S. Routes 1 and 17 and from Virginia Route 3.  It is currently open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 12:00pm.  (They are currently looking into expanding their hours.)  Admission is free, but they gladly accept donations to help with the expenses of operating the museum today and for generations to come.  Parking is available at the museum.  The Little Yellow Train runs every Saturday in fair weather.  Please note that the baggage cars and cabooses are not handicap accessible, but the model train building and new museum building is.

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The next time you are making your Saturday journey along Interstate 95, make a stopover in Fredericksburg and check out the Rappahannock Railroad Museum.  It is a detour that you will be happy to make.

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