Strong as an Ox
Everyone’s heard the phrase, “as strong as an ox”. Oxen often were used as draft animals in the early 20th century. They supplied much of the power associated with agriculture and were used to haul heavy loads, plow fields, and for carrying goods. A two-animal team usually can manage several tons. Interesting fact: Oxen cost half as much as horses, required half the feed and could be eaten in an emergency.
Point of Rocks has been an important crossroads of travel since American Indians established routes through the region. Though quieter these days, the area was bustling with commerce between the 1830s and 1930s. During the Civil War, troops from both sides frequently crossed the River and the Towpath. Troops traded volleys across the water, skirmished in and near Point of Rocks, and Confederates attacked canal boats and trains, destroyed locks, and raided supply stores. Both the C&O Canal Company and the B&O Railroad reached Point of Rocks by 1832.
Then & Now: Barnesville (Sellman’s Depot”) Train Station, 1912
BARNESVILLE (“Sellman’s Depot”) B&O TRAIN STATION (THEN): Barnesville Station, constructed circa 1873, this frame building apparently housed the post office as well. The station house in 1874 was referred to as “Sellman’s Depot”, and was named for William 0. Sellman, owner of the lands on which the station was built. Development began around 1873 when the railroad came through and the town was gradually abandoned with the advent of interstate highways and automobiles. The station was demolished in the 1950’s.
BARNESVILLE MARC STATION (NOW): Built about 1930 as the first metering station for the Washington area gas supply, this building was saved from imminent destruction by concerned citizens dedicated to both the preservation of the visible past and revitalization of the railroad. On February 16, 1977 the historic metering station owned by the Washington Gas Light Company traveled 23 miles by road from Rockville to begin a new existence as the Barnesville railroad station. The squarish little structure had a makeover after the move. It was painted inside and out and and a wide overhanging roof was added just below the original roof line, giving the building more an authentic “train station” look, and it was re-dedicated on October 10, 1977. Snuggled up against the woods, surrounded by trees and shrubbery in a rural area just south of Barnesville on Route 109 (Beallsville Road), the station today is a pretty sight.
Source: The Montgomery County Story Newsletter, Vol. 37, No.1, February 1994. “Train Stations and Suburban Development Along the Old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad” by Jo Beck
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 (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.
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
Then & Now: Washington’s Cherry Blossoms
Time passes, but the cherry blossoms always come back. Seeing the cherry blossoms is a time-honored D.C. tradition that dates back to 1912, when Tokyo gifted 3,020 cherry trees to the U.S. in an act of friendship. While many of the original trees have been replaced, the Tidal Basin’s beauty has persisted for more than a century. Each spring, more than 1.5 million visitors descend upon Washington, D.C. each year to admire the 3,000-plus trees.
Here are “then and now” comparison shots of the Cherry Blossoms on the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. from 1930 and 2022.
Cherry Blossoms on the Tidal Basin (THEN): From Lewis Reed’s collection of photographs. Cherry blossoms in bloom along the Tidal Basin, circa 1930s with my mother, Mary Jane (Reed) Gartner.
Cherry Blossoms on the Tidal Basin (NOW): The “now” photo is a google image of approximately the same location… some 90 years later. According to the National Park Service, DC’s 2022 cherry blossoms will reach peak bloom sometime between March 22-25. The best viewing of the cherry blossom trees typically lasts four to seven days after peak bloom begins, but the blossoms can last for up to two weeks under ideal conditions.
Fun facts about Washington, DC’s cherry blossoms
- The first donation of 2,000 trees, received in 1910, was burned on orders from President William Howard Taft. Insects and disease had infested the gift, but after hearing about the plight of the first batch, the Japanese mayor sent another 3,020 trees to DC two years later.
- The first two trees were planted on the north bank of Tidal Basin in March 1912, and they still stand today. You can see them at the end of 17th Street Southwest, marked by a large plaque.
- It’s against the law to pick the cherry blossoms in Washington DC. While there aren’t any subtle wire fences or stern security guards like in a museum, any attempts to create your own corsage may very well land you a fine.
- The majority of the cherry blossom trees around the Tidal Basin are of the Yoshino variety. But another species, the Kwanzan, usually blooms two weeks after the Yoshino trees, giving visitors a second chance to catch the blossoms.
- The average lifespan of a cherry blossom tree is only 20 to 30 years, but nearly 100 of the original trees from 1912 still thrive at the Tidal Basin due to the maintenance of the National Park Service.
- No, they’re not all from 1912, reinforcements are sometimes necessary. New trees have been regularly planted, including in 1965, the late 1980s, 1999 and from 2002 to 2006, according to the NPS.
Happy National Ferris Wheel Day!
Did you know that February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day, but also National Ferris Wheel Day? This unofficial national holiday is held on this day to honor the birth of the inventor of the Ferris Wheel, George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. What better way to celebrate Ferris Wheel Day than enjoying this old photograph of the Ferris Wheel taken at the Rockville Fairgrounds, courtesy of Lewis Reed. The fairgrounds were just outside Rockville, about where Richard Montgomery High School is today. The Fair lasted four days, from August 21st to the 24th, and drew visitors from local counties, Washington, and Baltimore.
For the singles and the “enough already with the Valentines”, here is your perfect alternative excuse. Go wish all your friends and family a Happy Ferris Wheel Day!