Montgomery History Online Exhibit: Montgomery County 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed

Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed

Montgomery History has launched a new online exhibition co-developed by Blog Author, Jeanne Gartner and Montgomery History Librarian & Archivist, Sarah Hedlund: “Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed”. Explore Montgomery County and its environs in the early 20th century through the lens of Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. A pioneering automobile dealer and one of the most prolific photographers in Montgomery County at the turn of the 20th century, Reed took motorcycle excursions all over the state of Maryland with his camera, capturing landscapes, monuments, historical places, people, and anything else that caught his attention.

The presentation of the Lewis Reed collection features his photography in several themed exhibitions (Transportation, Photo-magic, Recreation, Daily Life, and Community). The first exhibition, “Transportation in Montgomery County”, features some of the earliest known photographs of various modes of transportation, from horses and canal boats to motorcycles and automobiles. It is an absolutely unique window into how Montgomery Countians lived over a century ago.

Click on the category you are interested in below to visit the various presentations and their photographic content. Through the lens of Lewis Reed, we see that Montgomery County’s history is America’s history.

  • Transportation: Lewis Reed loved moving vehicles and photographed the evolution of transportation happening around him at the turn of the century. Explore the pages on modes of transportation in Montgomery County from horse power to automobiles.
  • Photo-magic: Details how self-taught photographer and county native Lewis Reed edited photos before computers existed, using techniques like hand-tinting and double exposure.
  • Recreation: Enjoy a vicarious getaway by exploring the newest section of the Lewis Reed Photography online exhibit, “Recreation”. View these amazing photos to see how Montgomery Countians in the first half of the 20th century enjoyed fun in the sun — beach trips, camping, fishing, vacationing, attending fairs, and more. You’ll find many summer activities have stood the test of time!
  • Daily Life: What was domestic and social life like in Montgomery County at the turn of the century? Explore glimpses of early 19th century housing, education, social activities, entertainment, pets, and more in the  “Daily Life” section.
  • Community: Featured in the section are images of the businesses, industries, occupations, and services that provided income for Montgomery County’s residents, and shaped the growing towns in the first few decades of the 20th century.

New Blog Feature: Then & Now

Then & Now

Looking back at photography from the past is a fascinating experience for me, and with a newfound interest in history, it occurred to me that with the vast number of historical photographs in Lewis Reed’s Collection, that this blog would be a great place to feature a series of Then & Now photography. I started doing this about a year ago as a research tool, now I mostly do it because of my passion for history and fascination with the subject. With that in mind, I will occasionally be spotlighting some “Then & Now” images from his collection that will show photographs of buildings, street scenes, and other historical locales alongside photographs of how they appear today.

Some of the historic locations in this series includes the Smithsonian, Capitol, Union Station, Old Post Office, Library of Congress, Raleigh Hotel, Key Bridge and other important sites in and around the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area. There are also photographs of many non-Maryland locations including the historic landmark “Lucy the Elephant”, Gettysburg Battlefield, Mount Vernon, Pennsylvania Monument and United States Regulars Monuments under construction, and Quebec Bridge (the 8th Wonder of the World).

I have no formal history training, just a general interest in local history where I grew up. I will post one of Lewis Reed’s photographs matched with a corresponding contemporary shot of the same area, and supply a few sentences of context. All of them will in some way will offer a visual history of how things have changed over the years. I look forward to sharing them with you.

Reed Photo Collection (1898-1960)

Lewis Reed Photos

Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge, was a well-known photographer in Montgomery County. Many of his photographs are now part of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Historical Society photo archives. He even developed his own photographs. He had a darkroom in his house —  in the kitchen, to be exact — and worked at night to develop the negatives.

About This Collection:

Since I started this blog, I have had the opportunity to look through my grandfather’s extensive collection of photographs from historical locations not only in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia, but all across the country. The Reed Photo Collection (1898-1960) spotlights the photographs that I have been able to research and identify. There are close to 200 blog posts within this section that gives a snapshot of what life was like more than 100 years ago. Highlights include the Black Rock Grist Mill, Rockville Water Tower, C&O Canal, 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, Rockville Fair dirt track races, Trolley Cars, Wright Brothers Airplane, and Quebec Bridge (8th Wonder of the World). Especially stunning are images of the aftermath of the 1936 Gainesville Georgia tornado, one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history. Many photographic images in this collection have never before been seen publicly in print.

Lewis Reed’s photography has appeared as a resource in highly regarded local history publications, and in historical television programming, including on the national television show American Pickers, Science Channel Impossible Engineering, Maryland Public Television, and the American Experience History Series on PBS.

If there’s an historical marker on the side of the road in Montgomery County, chances are, one of Lewis Reed’s images is on it. Some of the markers that display his photographs include the Andrew Small Academy Marker in Darnestown, The Origins of Darnestown Marker, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station Marker in Gaithersburg, From Trolley to Trail Marker in Bethesda, the African American Heritage Walking Tour Marker in Rockville, and the 19th Century Crossroads Marker in Darnestown. A Lewis Reed photo is also featured on a historical/interpretive sign along a trail in the Watters Smith Memorial State Park in West Virginia.

Of particular interest is Lewis Reed’s collection of manipulated photographs. He was 100 years ahead of his time by creating special effects to images long before the convenience and efficiency of digital photography and Photoshop were ever imaginable. Lewis Reed used a wide variety of effects, including hand-tinting, double exposure, applied handwork, and creating images that made it look as if there were ghosts in the picture. It’s pretty amazing how his early photography shows such versatility and creativity considering the limited tools that were available at the time.

Click here to take a look back in time and explore the lives of those who have gone before us.

Note: All images are scanned from prints made from Lewis Reed’s original glass plate negatives. Glass plate negatives were in common use between the 1880s and the late 1920s. No touch-up or alteration has been done, in order to retain their historical essence.

Origins of the Great Fair Rockville Maryland (1846-1932)

The Great Rockville Fair

The Washington Times., August 20, 1922

In 1846, James K. Polk was President of the United States, the U.S. flag had only 28 stars on it, and less than 1,500 people lived in Rockville. It also was the year that the Montgomery County Agricultural Society was organized, that began the tradition of the Montgomery County Fair in Rockville. A 12-member board of directors was chosen, headed by John P. C. Peter, President. The Montgomery County Fair opened two years later on the Pike in 1848, about where Richard Montgomery High School is today.

Discussions about farm improvements led to organized agricultural efforts. In 1846, Rockville farmers helped to establish the Montgomery County Agricultural Society. Two years later, Court House Square overflowed with displays of agricultural implements at the first county fair. The register of will opened his office for exhibits of household manufacturers. and the county clerk’s place teemed with fruits and vegetables. Women competed for cash prizes in the categories of homespun fabrics, fancy handwork, pickles, preserves, butter, cheese, and honey. Men exhibited livestock on the grounds of the Beall-Dawson House.

In a few years, the fair moved to Samuel T. Stonestreet’s woodlot adjacent to Saint Mary’s Church. The annual fair became a week-long gathering to showcase innovation, compete, and socialize. The property on the Rockville Pike was used until 1932, after which much of the land became Richard Montgomery High School.

From The Baltimore Sun Newspaper on September 20, 1848:

The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair held at Rockville, Maryland on Thursday and Friday last, the Journal of that place says, fully met the most sanguine expectation of its friends. The concourse of people was very large, and the stock, implements, and other articles exhibited, were the most perfect and beautiful. The Journal designs to publish the various reports of the committee—and the very able and interesting address of R. J. Bowie, Esq., and the other appropriate remarks submitted on the occasion, and says:

The exhibition was highly credible to the officers and members of the club, and to our country. We must reserve, for a more lengthy notice, the beautiful stock and implements of agriculture sent by gentlemen residing out of our county. We are gratified, indeed, that every thing went off gloriously, and the occasion will be long remembered by all who were present.

1909 Montgomery County Fair

The Baltimore Sun, Sunday 31 August 1909

All the latest improved machinery in farm and garden implements were there, together with wagons, carriages, automobiles, trucks, and tractors. The display of cattle, sheep and hogs had long been one of the leading features at the Rockville Fair.  Many fine herds of cattle, including Jerseys, Guernseys and other varieties were on exhibition. Two hundred of the finest horses in Montgomery County, along with many from the District of Columbia, nearby Virginia, and elsewhere were on exhibition.

Rockville MD Fairgrounds 1910

Fair-goers in their finest stroll along the midway. Hats were a fashion requirement at the time, as were long flowing dresses and suits. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1910

Many other attractions were provided, including the midway, merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, side shows, free exhibitions in front of the grandstand, horse racing, pony races, mule races, automobile contests, a parade of stock, horse show, dog show, poultry show, an automobile show, and clay pigeon shoots. The clay-pigeon shoot was one of the biggest events of its kind ever held in Maryland.

Vintage Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel at the Rockville Fair. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1910

Rockville MD Fairgrounds 1910

Agricultural and various farm equipment exhibits. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1910

The various departments were filled to overflowing with high-class exhibits. The main exhibition hall was devoted to farm products and garden products, household displays, flowers, fruits, etc. The household department had an endless array of preserves, jellies, canned fruits, bread, cakes, candles, pies, fancy articles, and works of art. Sanders & Stayman and E. F. Droop & Co. of Washington, had excellent displays of musical instruments in this hall. Examples of locally grown produce were abundant in the main hall. Peaches, apples, plums, damsons, cantaloupes and watermelons were piled up in tempting array. The poultry show was also a place of interest. Many fine chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and pigeons were being shown.

Rockville MD Fairgrounds 1910

Fair-goers meander through exhibits. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1910

Rockville MD Fairgrounds 1910

Can you hear me now? Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1910

Rockville MD Fairgrounds 1910

Hundreds of cars parked in the fair parking lot. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1910.

The Fair was always attended by large numbers of out-of-town visitors from other Maryland counties like Frederick, Howard, and Carroll counties, as well as attracting out-of-state fair-goers from the District of Columbia and neighboring counties in Virginia. Vehicles were assigned places all around the fairgrounds, and the park was completely surrounded. What is fascinating to me is, with all of these early cars painted in black, how on earth would you find your car?

Montgomery County Fairgrounds in the snow.

Montgomery County Fairgrounds in the snow. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1910

Montgomery County Fairgrounds 1910

Montgomery County Fairgrounds Poultry House boarded up for the winter. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1910

Rockville MD Fairgrounds 1910

Sign on the left side of the building reads, “The Beautiful Caverns of Luray Souvenirs”. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1910

The Race Track

If only the grandstands at the Rockville Fairgrounds could talk. The stories it could tell – it would tell stories of great racing – first on horses, bicycles and motorcycles, and then in cars. This grandstand could talk about the rich history of racing that took place on the one-third of a mile long dirt track which attracted high-power cars operated by some of the most noted speed kings of the country.

When Lewis Reed took these photographs in the early 1900s, the Rockville fairgrounds had undergone a significant upgrade. The grounds were enlarged by the addition of about five acres, allowing for the construction of a one-third of a mile race course along with a new grandstand, and improvements were made to the buildings and grounds, bringing them up-to-date in every respect. Montgomery County could well boast one of the nicest fairgrounds in the state.

Below is a previously unpublished Program of Speed Contests held in Rockville, Maryland, dated September 4 and 5, 1890. The program is from Lewis Reed’s collection. (click on photos for larger images)

1890 Fair Racing Program

Front cover of a racing program from the 1890 Montgomery County Agricultural Society Fair. From Lewis Reed’s Collection.

1890 Fair Racing Program

Racing program from the 1890 Montgomery County Agricultural Society Fair. From Lewis Reed’s Collection.

1890 Fair Racing Program

Back cover of racing program from the 1890 Montgomery County Agricultural Society Fair. From Lewis Reed’s Collection.

Bicycle Races

Bicycle races became very popular throughout the country and were a novel event at the Rockville Fairgrounds as early as 1915. The track was a one-third of a mile dirt racing oval with wide, sweeping curves and a grandstand for spectators, which made for clear views. Notice the riders are in shirts and ties. In the background: according to the 1903 Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlas of the fairgrounds, these structures near the track were used as cattle pens.

Rockville Fairgrounds Bicycle Races 1910

This circa 1915 photo of an early bicycle race at the Rockville Fairgrounds gives a sense of just how popular the sport was at the time. Photo by Lewis Reed

Harness Races

Harness racing was one of the main attractions at the new race track before the introduction of the automobile and the subsequent popularity of racing cars. Horses were harnessed to lightweight one-seater buggies called sulkies, and would race around the track at a trot, as opposed to the galloping gait of horses ridden by jockeys.

1910 Harness Races

Rockville drew huge crowds for harness races. Photo by Lewis Reed, circa 1910

1920s Harness Races

Harness race at the Rockville Fair, circa 1910. All those throngs of people had plenty to see. Photo by Lewis Reed

1910 Harness Races

Harness racers rounding the bend on the racetrack, Rockville Fairground circa 1910. Photo by Lewis Reed

1910 Harness Races

Bend on the harness racetrack, Rockville Fairground circa 1910. Photo by Lewis Reed

Rockville Fair Sulkie

Race horses and two-wheeled sulkies (for trotting races) at the Rockville Fairground stables, Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1910.

1910 Harness Races

Race horse and two-wheeled sulkies (for trotting races) at the Rockville Fairground stables. Photo by Lewis Reed ca. 1910

First Auto Races at Rockville Fair Speedway

From The Baltimore Sun, August 27, 1923:

This is the first year that a Rockville Fair has continued through Saturday. The extra day was added this time as an experiment, the management believing that by substituting new features the additional day could be made a success. Automobile races, the first ever held at Rockville, were the day’s principal attraction and they attracted a good-sized crowd.

Early action shots like the ones below are rare, however, Lewis Reed was there to capture six epic moments of race history through the lens of his camera that day.

Rockville Fair Auto Race Aug 1923

Rockville drew huge crowds for auto races. Rockville Fair, August 25, 1923. Photo by Lewis Reed

August 1923. Auto race, Rockville Fair

Dusty Action – 1923 photo of the exciting auto races at Rockville Fair. Five racers are just coming around the bend on this dirt track with their tires spinning up dust in their wake. Photo by Lewis Reed

August 1923 Auto race, Rockville Fair

Race car drivers deep in dust round a turn at the Rockville Fair auto races. Print made from a Lewis Reed glass negative.

August 1923 Auto race, Rockville Fair

High-powered race cars rounding a wide, sweeping curve at the Rockville Fair auto races, August 25, 1923. Print made from a Lewis Reed glass negative

August 1923. Auto race, Rockville Fair

Two-man race car. Some early race cars included both a driver and a ‘riding mechanic’. One of the key jobs of the second man in a race car was to look backward and alert the driver to what was going on behind him. Photo by Lewis Reed

Early race car drivers were required to have a riding mechanic, otherwise it was voluntary. Riding mechanics, who in addition to being lookouts, kept an eye on tire wear and would even hop out of the car and run back through the infield to get fuel. Special note: The above photograph was featured as a part of the London Array Series of “Impossible Engineering,” broadcast on January 24, 2019 on Discovery’s Science Channel. The photograph was used on the program that featured a segment on the development of the race car.

August 1923. Auto race, Rockville Fair

More dirt track action. Skinny tires make for slippery turns. Photo by Lewis Reed

Rockville Garage Displaying New Model Cars at the Rockville Fair Grounds, 1918

The Fair also gave automobile dealers like a young Lewis Reed the opportunity to display their new models. Below is the dealership’s new car tent, allowing attendees to get their first glimpse at the latest models that Rockville Garage had to offer.
Rockville Garage at Fairgrounds 1918

Anybody for a demonstration drive? Identified by the triangle logo on the grill and the number of passengers seated in it, the car appears to be a 1918 Hudson Super Six Seven Passenger Touring. Photo by Lewis Reed

Rockville Garage at Rockville Fair 1918

Hudson Super Six, Oldsmobile, and Dodge Brothers Motor Cars on display. Lewis Reed in drivers seat.

Rockville Garage at Rockville Fair 1918

Rockville Garage displaying their new models at the Rockville Fair Grounds. Photo by Lewis Reed

Rockville Garage at Rockville Fair 1918

At Your Service Rockville Garage. Lewis Reed on the left

Reed Brothers Company Softball Team at the Rockville Fairgrounds, late 1920s

From a distance, it looks and sounds like a regular baseball game: the crack of the bat, the cheering from the bench, the sliding into home plate. But a closer look at the field shows something is very different. They’re playing on a rough grass field, no one is using a batting helmet, fielding glove, or catcher’s mask. From the 1920s through the 1940s, Reed Brothers Dodge had their own company softball team that played on the fields at the Rockville Fairgrounds where Richard Montgomery High School now stands.

Reed Brothers Softball Team

Reed Brothers Softball Team playing on a field set up inside the Rockville Fair racetrack oval, circa late 1920s. Photo by Lewis Reed

Fair Now History

From The Daily Mail (Hagerstown, Maryland) 23 Aug 1933:

The historic Rockville Fairgrounds, scene of many harness race programs, will be sold at a sheriff’s sale Friday afternoon at Rockville. The property consists of 26 acres, a dwelling and numerous stables, exhibition buildings and other structures. The sale is being made to satisfy a claim of a bank. It is rumored that the Montgomery County Board of Education will try to buy the grounds as a site for an elementary school and a future location for the entire Rockville educational plant.

Fair Ground Auctioned

From The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) 26 Aug 1933:

The Montgomery County National Bank submitted the only bid for the historic Rockville Fair Grounds at a public auction on August 25, 1933 to satisfy a bank’s claim. Its bid was $19,500.00 subject to a mortgage held by the Sandy Spring Savings Institution, and unpaid interest and taxes.

The Montgomery County Fair was reborn in 1949 and again started holding its annual Fair in Gaithersburg. On June 4th, 1949, hundreds of volunteers participated in an old-fashioned barn raising and 12 outbuildings were constructed in one day. The site of the new Montgomery County Agricultural Center was created.

Montgomery County Agricultural Fair

June 4, 1949 – Construction of the cattle barns along the railroad tracks. Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Agricultural Fair photo archives.

End of An Era

While many things about the fair have changed over the years, its mission has remained the same.

This event provides the opportunity for 4-H and FFA members to exhibit their livestock, homemaking and craft projects. We also focus on promoting the science and preservation of agriculture in Montgomery County and educating Fair patrons and the community regarding agricultural related topics.

To that end they have been successful since 1846. The Montgomery County Agricultural Fair is now today, one of the largest county Fairs in the State of Maryland.

Find photos like these and much more on Montgomery History’s online exhibit, “Montgomery County 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed“.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress the largest online newspaper archive
Rockville, Portrait Of A City, Eileen S. McGuckian
Ag Center History

Montgomery Magazine Wheels and Deals Feature

Reed Brothers Dodge, Montgomery MagazineReed Brothers is very proud and honored to be featured in the month of August/September 2022 Montgomery Magazine, “Then & Now” section. The black and white photograph above shows the expansion of Reed Brothers Dogde showroom and Gulf Gasoline Station that took place in 1941. At about the same time as the gas station was remodeled, Lewis Reed split up the Sales and Parts and Service operations by constructing a complete new building that was located at the intersection of at Montgomery Avenue and Dodge Street.

A closer look at the photo reveals the price of gasoline as 15 cents. On the right attached to a telephone pole is a sign pointing the way to Olney. In addition to the Gulf signage there is a small, barely visible sign below that promotes, “Clean Rest Rooms”.Reed Brothers Dodge, Montgomery Magazine

The color photograph above, is the dealership’s location today, now known as Veterans Park. In the 1970s, the site was known as the Francis Scott Key Memorial Park, and later in 1988, it was permanently rededicated as Veterans Park. In the late 1960s, the state of Maryland acquired the land to widen Rt 355 and donated the remaining sliver to the City. The State of Maryland named the connector street behind the dealership’s original location “Dodge Street” following the dealership’s 1941 expansion.

Montgomery Magazine is a lifestyle magazine, with timely articles on county leaders, entertainment, sports, neighborhood and restaurant profiles, entrepreneurs, historic landmarks then and now, plus seasonal special sections of local interest.

Find the issue online at:

Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race July-August 1931

Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race


In 1931, the Goodyear Zeppelin Company produced a series of framed prints as rewards for Goodyear dealers as prizes for high sales. Sales was based on a two months quota, and participated in by thousands of dealers all over the country. The print shows the maiden launch of the USS Akron leaving the Goodyear Zeppelin air dock at Akron, Ohio. The engraved plaque at the bottom center of the frame reads, “Winner – Reed Brothers, Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race. July – August 1931.” This frame is made of duralumin used in the girder construction of the United States Airship “AKRON” built by the Goodyear Zeppelin Corporation”. The print is signed in the lower right-hand corner by the famed 20th century photographer, Margaret Bourke-White. During the early years of the Depression, Goodyear was one of Bourke-White’s most important clients. She made this image of the airship Akron when it was removed from its hangar for the first time.

Built in 1929, the almost unbelievably huge Goodyear air dock in Akron, Ohio, was created as a space where blimps, airships, and dirigibles could be constructed. Evidently building such a massive space created problems, such as indoor rain, and putting the whole thing on rollers so that it could expand and contract with the seasons.

Third Annual Goodyear Dealers Zeppelin Race

Inscription Plaque

Margaret Bourke White

Photo is signed in the lower right corner by famed 20th century photographer, Margaret Bourke White

The USS Akron, first of a class of two 6,500,000 cubic foot rigid airships, was built at Akron, Ohio. Commissioned in late October 1931, she spent virtually all of her short career on technical and operational development tasks, exploring the potential of the rigid airship as an Naval weapons system. During the remainder of 1931 and the early part of 1932, the Akron made flights around the eastern United States and over the western Atlantic, including one trial of her capabilities as a scouting unit of the fleet. While beginning a trip to the New England area, Akron encountered a violent storm over the New Jersey coast and, shortly after midnight on 4 April 1933, crashed tail-first into the sea. Only three of the seventy-six men on board survived this tragic accident. During the search for other possible survivors, the Navy non-rigid airship J-3 also crashed, killing two more men.

Note: Margaret Bourke-White (1904 ­ 1971) is best known as the first foreign correspondent to be permitted to take photographs of Soviet industry, the first female war correspondent, and the first female correspondent permitted to work in war zones.

40th Anniversary with Goodyear

Lewis Reed was recognized by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. for reaching his 40th year as a Goodyear dealer. Reed Brothers Dodge began selling Goodyear tires in the 1920s. Below is a letter from Russell DeYoung thanking Lewis Reed for his 40 years “in business together”.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co

Then & Now: Clarksburg Main Street, 1913

This post is a continuation of a series of “Then & Now” images from Lewis Reed’s Photo Collection alongside photographs of how they appear today. Lewis Reed worked hard to preserve a visual history of Montgomery County, Maryland and surrounding area long before automobiles were even around. As early as 1910, he toured on his motorcycle across the state of Maryland and took photographs of many historic locations. Taken approximately 109 years apart, these photos takes us back in time to Clarksburg, Maryland at the intersection of the main road between Georgetown and Frederick and an old Seneca trail. The corresponding color photo is a google maps screenshot from the same location more than a century later.

CLARKSBURG MAIN STREET (THEN): In the early 20th century, Clarksburg was the third largest town in Montgomery County, after Rockville and Poolesville. Clarksburg had four general stores, two hotels, and an academy of learning. It also had a blacksmith, a doctor’s office, tanneries, shoemakers, winemakers, tailors, wheelwrights, fertilizer businesses, skilled farmers, master carpenters, and two town bands.

The black and white image was taken by Lewis Reed in 1913, where Clarksburg Road (to Boyds) met Frederick Road (Rt 355). Frederick Road has also been known as The Georgetown Road and the Great Road. The town of Clarksburg was laid out along Frederick Road. The road was used as the stagecoach line from Frederick to Georgetown and it remains as the present main street through Clarksburg. Turning wagon ruts/tire tracks are visible in the lower left corner. The first house on the right was the Horace Willson House (still standing). Left of the Willson house was Willson’s Store, built on the site of the town’s first trading post, established by town founder John Clark (still standing). Established April 1, 1800, this was the location of the first post office in Clarksburg, the second oldest in Montgomery County. In 1842, the old trading post building was replaced with a two-story general store. The dwelling beyond the pole served as a church parsonage (still standing) and just beyond stands the Clarksburg United Methodist Church. The church was used for church dinners, 4-H meetings, and community gatherings. The vehicle appears to be a very early Ford Model T.

Clarksburg Main Street (Frederick Road Rt 355). Photo by Lewis Reed, 1913.

CLARKSBURG MAIN STREET (NOW): Over 109 years have passed and three buildings in Lewis Reed’s photo still remain. The structure on the right in the current day photo below was the Lewis General Store and the yellow vacant house a little further down the road was the church parsonage. The recently renovated Lewis General Store received an award for best restoration of a historic commercial property from the county. The charming building boasts a tin ceiling, original counters; original beams from 1750 are exposed in some areas, wood floors, and many historic details throughout. The steps to the ME Church South are still visible today on Rt 335 near where it intersects with Spire Street (about where the car is in the image). The congregation claims to be the “oldest continuous Methodist congregation in Montgomery County”. Today, Clarksburg remains a small rural town, retaining many of its 19th century structures. It is among Montgomery County’s earliest, most intact historic towns.

Due to the Clarksburg Square Road extension that now connects to Frederick Road, the Horace Willson House was relocated approximately 70 feet to the south to preserve it. The building is currently a wine and beer shop.

Clarksburg Main Street 2022

This current day image is a google maps screenshot from the corner of Redgrave Place and Rt 355.

Sources of Information:
Joan Edwards Ruff, Resident of Clarksburg for 45 years and granddaughter of Lillian and Elwood Barr
“The History of Clarksburg, King’s Valley, Purdum, Browningsville and Lewisdale Maryland” by Dona L. Cuttler
MHT Inventory Form13-10 Clarksburg Historic District

The First Plymouth Automobile Debuted on This Date 94 Years Ago

Reed Brothers Dodge-Plymouth

Plymouths were sold at Reed Brothers from 1930-1969. Pictured is an original 1940s Reed Brothers Dodge-Plymouth three-pocket shop coat made by Anderson Bros. of Danville, VA.

The first Plymouth automobile was introduced on July 7, 1928. Plymouth was Chrysler Corporation’s first entry in the low-priced field, which at the time was already dominated by Chevrolet and Ford. Plymouths were actually priced slightly higher than their competition, but offered all standard features such as internal expanding hydraulic brakes that the competition did not provide. While the original purpose of the Plymouth was to serve a lower-end marketing niche, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the marque helped significantly in ensuring the survival of the Chrysler Corporation in a decade when many other car companies failed. Beginning in 1930, Plymouths were sold by all three Chrysler divisions (Chrysler, DeSoto, and Dodge).

Plymouth sales were a bright spot during this dismal automotive period, and by 1931 Plymouth rose to the number three spot among all cars. Plymouth almost surpassed Ford in 1940 and 1941 as the second most popular make of automobiles in the U.S.

In 1957, Virgil Exner’s new Forward Look design theme, produced cars with much more advanced styling than Chevrolet or Ford. 1957 total production soared to 726,009, about 200,000 more than 1956, and the largest output yet for Plymouth. However, the 1957–1958 Forward Look models suffered from poor materials, spotty build quality and inadequate corrosion protection; they were rust-prone and greatly damaged Chrysler’s reputation.

Most Plymouth models offered from the late 1970s onward, such as the Volaré, Acclaim, Laser, Neon, and Breeze, were badge-engineered versions of Chrysler, Dodge, or Mitsubishi models. By the 1990s, Plymouth had lost much of its identity, as its models continued to overlap in features and prices with Dodges. Plymouth’s product offerings and buyer appeal, and sales continued to fall.

1999 Plymouth Prowler

This Limited Edition 1999 Plymouth Prowler convertible was a vehicle from the dealership owners’ private collection. Photo by blog author.

By the late 1990s, only four vehicles were sold under the Plymouth name: the Voyager/Grand Voyager minivans, the Breeze mid-size sedan, the Neon compact car, and the Prowler sports car, which was to be the last model unique to Plymouth. The Prowler came about as part of Chrysler’s efforts (the last as it turned out) to differentiate Plymouth from the rest of its lineup in hopes of keeping the brand alive. It was hoped that it would be received well enough to garner some attention, some of which might spill over into some of their other models.

Plymouth rarely exceeded 200,000 cars per year after 1990. Consequently, DaimlerChrysler decided to drop the make after a limited run of 2001 models. This was announced on November 3, 1999.

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