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'Bike Through History'

on the

Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail


Notes from the 2016 Bike Through History Wednesday evening program:

MAY 25, 2016: This evening's bike ride event originated in Sparks in what was billed as a 'Get Reacquainted' ride. It was not on the official schedule, but rather a leisurely ride to get us all into the mood for the program which follows. It was a beautiful evening with temps in the low 80's. Twenty-six (26) people participated. From Sparks we biked northward, stopping once to help clear the trail of a fallen limb, and then stopped at Corbett for introductions. We then biked to Monkton for a stop of about 12 minutes. Next, we biked north, stopping at the Little Falls bridge just south of Blue Mount road. We looked for beavers, but we saw none. (But on the return trip, some of the participants stopped there once again, and beavers WERE spotted.) We turned back at Hicks-Wilson road. Our attendance of 26 was the most we have ever had for a get reacquainted ride.

JUNE 1, 2016: Forty-eight (48) bicyclists attended this evening's Bike Through History ride from Paper Mill. The weather was clear. in the mid 80's. We departed on time and then stopped at the Gunpowder bridge for introductions. This took quite a while because of the number of participants, with everyone asked to speak for about 11 seconds apiece, saying something about what the trail means to them, etc . Next we biked north to Sparks, without stopping, thereupon we entered the Sparks Bank Nature Center. Richard Anderson and Larry Reese spoke to us about the nature center, its exhibits, and the NCR Hereford Volunteers organization. Then we biked further north to Glencoe, assembling just north of Glencoe road where I shared some history of my interest in the railroad and my attendance at Sparks School beginning in 1946, and briefly of riding the Parkton Local to school in Baltimore 1957-59. Biking back south we went directly to Ashland, although a number of folks did opt to leave us at Paper Mill. Our attendance of 48 for this event is a new record for us. Our previous record for a BTH ride was 45, set on June 4, 2014.

JUNE 8, 2016: It was a comfortably cool evening, although a bit breezy, as we staged our Bike Through History program from Bentley Springs. Thirty-five (35) participants attended. We first biked south to MP-15 for introductions, and a rendering of Happy Birthday to Lauren Mlinac, along with opening announcements. Then we biked back north to Bentley Springs where we had our first dedicated Creature Feature of the season by Richard Anderson on the topic of beavers, muskrats and otters. Next we biked north to Freeland where we stopped for a few minutes to rest and absorb the contents of the history sign. Continuing further north we stopped at the Mason-Dixon line for our traditional reading of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address by 18 participants standing in a circle directly upon the state line. This was followed by closing discussion & announcements.

JUNE 15, 2016: This evening we met at Monkton for our third official ride of the season. It was a comfortable evening, but with a prediction of possible thunderstorms. We had no rain, but the forecast may have cut down on the number of those attending. Nineteen (19) bicyclists participated. We left from Monkton at 6:34 P.M., biking slowly in order for stragglers to catch up, most of whom arrived in Monkton on time but had to find parking spaces on Old Monkton road because the spaces at the station were filled. We stopped at the replica wayside signal just north of Glencoe for a brief discussion about it along with opening remarks. We then biked south to Glencoe & promptly turned back, using the paved road that parallels the trail to avoid congestion, until we reached the trail once again at the crossing just north of the signal. Arriving back in Monkton, we were treated to a wonderful tour of the gardens by the Gunpowder Garden Club, which took about half an hour. Next we biked north to the Little Falls bridge just south of Blue Mount to look for beavers, but we saw none. Then we biked further north to Hicks-Wilson road for closing announcements, and then back to Monkton.

JUNE 22, 2016: It was a very pleasant evening for our ride from White Hall. Thirty-three (33) bicyclists attended. We left White Hall, southbound, one minute late, and biked to Hicks-Wilson road for introductions. Steve Pedersen gave a brief show & tell on a NuVinci 'continuously variable transmission' bicycle he had borrowed for the occasion from a bike shop in Mount Airy, Md. He offered to swap bikes for those interested in trying the thing out, I included. The technology simplifies the process of changing gears. But from a practical standpoint, this type of bike is better suited to hilly terrain, not for the consistent low-grade running surface of a rail trail. For those interested, the bike is on sale for a thousand dollars. We departed north from Hicks-Wilson road at 6:55PM, stopping back at White Hall for Richard Anderson's creature feature on bats. Leaving White Hall at 7:25PM, we stopped briefly at the Snake Pit, and then at Parkton for a short history lesson on the Parkton Local, along with the role of the one-time water tank which had been perched upon the foundation, still standing, just south of the site of the Parkton depot. North of Parkton we stopped once again, this time for our traditional ring-around-the-sycamore-tree demonstration. Our northern terminus was MP-15 for closing remarks. With this ride, we have now covered the entire mileage of the TCB trail in Maryland.

JUNE 22, 2016: It was perfect weather for bicycling this evening - temperature just right, with low humidity. Twenty-nine (29) bicyclists joined our program from Sparks. We began with a creature feature by Richard Anderson about crabs. Following a safety announcement, we proceeded directly to Phoenix where we had introductions, and Cindy Hoover read some information to the group from the sign about Phoenix. Then we biked south to the Gunpowder bridge just north of MP-1 where we watched Andy Reese & friend plunge into a swimming hole. Next we biked to Ashland where Nancy Berger gave us some historical information about the town, which is where she lives, and then led us on a biking tour of the community.

JULY 6, 2016: It was a hot & humid evening with little breeze, and 20 bicyclists met us at Freeland for our annual ride to New Freedom. Before we left from Freeland, Richard Anderson gave us a creature feature about weasels. We then biked north to the Mason-Dixon line for a trivial question concerning the number of states styling themselves as commonwealths, of which Pennsylvania is one, a discussion about the surveying of the state line 250 years ago, and introductions. Finally, we biked further north to the New Freedom station, from which point most of us went over to Bonkey's for ice cream and/or to the Lions Club carnival in progress at the fairgrounds.

JULY 13, 2016: It was a rather muggy evening with a forecast of thunderstorms, but we saw no rain. We met at Parkton for this, our next-to-the-last BTH ride of the season. Twenty-seven (27) people participated. Initially we biked south to the Snake Pit for introductions. Kids were swimming in the stream below, oblivious to any snakes that may or may not have been present. Back at Parkton, we paid a visit to the bridge said to be the oldest vehicle bridge in Maryland, located on Old York road just north of the old Parkton bank. Built c-1809, the bridge just this past weekend had a bridge party, and the stream it crosses is now adorned with a number of stone cairns. The bridge, 62 feet in length, is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Richard Anderson then gave us a creature feature about fish. Biking north from Parkton we stopped at Dairy road for a history presentation prepared by Art, and relayed to us by Larry, about the history of the NCR, the towns it served, and its old cast-iron mileposts and whistle posts. Next we stopped just north of Walker for a visit to the bridge spanning the old millrace that once fed the mill just downstream in Walker. Finally, we ended up at Bentley Springs for a reading of the history sign before heading back to Parkton.

JULY 20, 2016: We met at Phoenix for our final Wednesday evening ride of the season. The weather was pleasant. Thirty-six (36) bicyclists participated. We began with a brief pre-ride demonstration in the use of a 'train-order stick,' a device by which a written message could be delivered to a moving train from a person on the ground holding the stick into the air for receipt by the engineer and conductor as the train passed. This was the standard method of transmitting official messages to a train before radios came into use. For the demonstration, an 11-year-old boy acted as the moving train by running along the trail, and he held his arm out with his hand in a fist, the way an engineer would, snatching the message mounted onto a string in the form of a loop. We then biked north to Sparks where Richard Anderson met us for a creature feature of a mounted fox, groundhog, bobcat, raccoon, opossum, etc. We also had brief announcements and introductions from those in attendance. Next we biked north to Monkton where we were greeted in the station by Carmela Veit who gave us a brief history of the station, and then she introduced us to Martha Reeve who discussed life in Monkton where she had grown up. This was very, very interesting. This was our turnaround point, and participants then returned back to Phoenix, thus concluding a very successful season. Our total attendance in our Bike Through History program this year was 247, for an average of 30.9 per ride. This is a new record. Our previous attendance record was 227, for an average of 28.4 per ride, in 2014. Much credit for this year's accomplishment was our mostly-favorable weather. Our attendance spread this year was a high of 48 and a low of 19.

SEPTEMBER 16, 2016: We met at Monkton for a moonlight bike ride, beginning at 7:30 P.M. It was a cloudy but comfortable evening as we departed north just after dark. Twenty-four (24) bicyclists participated. Slowly we ventured to White Hall, hoping to see the moon, but we could not see it through the clouds. We then biked further north to the spot we affectionately know as the 'Snake Pit,' a stream with falls and a deep spot where swimmers often congregate oblivious to the reported presence of copperhead snakes and a sign along the trail implying that this is indeed their habitat. No snakes were seen out and about, but we dwelled several minutes before turning back. When we arrived in White Hall once again, we searched for the moon, but still did not see it. Nonetheless, we spent about 15 minutes, song books in hand, and we sang to the moon, an event that has become legendary in our annual moonlight bike-riding program. Finally, we arrived back at Monkton, where refreshments were served in the former train station. Many thanks to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for permitting us to occupy the trail after dark, and to the ranger who followed our group in a truck. Thus ended our bike-riding for 2016.

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('Bike Through History' is conducted by volunteer members of the NCR/Hereford Volunteers Association.. The Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail - formerly the Northern Central Railroad Trail - is located in northern Baltimore County, Maryland, and extends for nearly 20 miles from Ashland to the Pennsylvania state line.. Its route is the former right-of-way of the Northern Central branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.. Passenger train station stops along the route included Ashland, Phoenix, Sparks, Glencoe, Corbett, Monkton, Pleasant Valley, Blue Mount, White Hall, Graystone, Parkton, Walker, Bentley Springs and Freeland.. The trail is maintained as a portion of the Gunpowder Falls State Park.. Northward into Pennsylvania, the trail is known as the York County Heritage Rail Trail, maintained by York County.)

Allen Brougham, chairman Bike Ride Committee

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