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Monday, September 28, 2015

Chasing History in Baltimore


The two hardest things to do in Baltimore is to get there and to leave, at least if you go by our experience. One hard part is done after an all day flight, hard light rail ride, and a grungy walk to our hotel. We were exhausted and slept like logs last night.

At least Tim and I did. Letty was kept up by a group of cheerleaders in a nearby room.

Watch the Video!

Now, it’s Sunday and we’re ready to see this city but we’re carless. That’s OK, it’s by choice. We are doing this entire trip via public transit, save the flights and the taxi back to the airport when we’re done.

Baltimore has a plethora of transit choices. Subway, light rail, bus, and water taxi, to name a few. The water taxi is not accessible but everything else is.

This city is one of our country’s more historic places, so let’s start our journey into Baltimore history at the big one…Fort McHenry.


This is the fort Baltimore attorney Francis Scott Key watched while being detained on a British ship during a fierce battle during the War of 1812. When he saw the stars and stripes rise above the early morning smoke after the battle, he was inspired to write a poem that was eventually mated to a British drinking tune to become our national anthem.

The number 1 bus route goes by the corner of our hotel and out to the gate of the fort, making for an extremely easy accessible trip to the historic site, although it is a bit of a walk from the gate to the visitor’s center, especially in the heat we’re experiencing this week.

In the visitor’s center, after getting tickets for the site (free for Golden Eagle pass holders and their companions), we see a moving if, at times, corny movie about the events of that night before venturing to the fort itself.


We’ve been to many an old fort like this and Fort McHenry really isn’t much different that most but it is still exciting to stand in a spot where a very famous and significant point of history occurred. There’s an American Legion convention in town this week and the site of so many veterans visiting such a meaningful spot in their lives is inspiring.

Speaking of the Legionnaires, they’ve come up with a brilliant idea for a souvenir. They’re all buying flags at the gift shop where they then take them to the fort. A docent there takes each flag and runs it up the pole where the Star Spangled Banner flew for a few seconds before lowering it and doing the same with the next flag.  Now, these heroes of America can go home with a flag that flew over Fort McHenry.

There’s a nice, but unprotected, accessible walk along the sea wall here that takes us back to the visitor’s center with great views of the harbor.

Done with the fort, we want to see some more Baltimore history. Our friend Brian told us we should visit the bar he got kicked out of when he was a teenager.  It’s in the Fells Point neighborhood.  The regular buses don’t go there but it is served by the (non accessible) water taxi and the Charm City Circulator.

This, my friends, will be your best friend when in Baltimore.  The circulator buses are accessible, come every ten minutes, and go almost everywhere in the downtown area.  They are also free.

It’s a two block walk from the hotel to the nearest Green Route Circulator stop. One of those blocks is what we can charitably call the Strip Club District but we end up in front of a police station and just wait a few minutes for the bus.


In Fells Point, it’s another two block walk to the 1600 block of Thames where you’ll find the oldest bar in the United States, The Horse You Came In On. This is the bar our friend was thrown out of and it’s next to an add-on to the original, The Horse You Rode Out On.


Both bars have a rather large step to get in but one of the workers taking a smoke break outside shows us an almost invisible little door in between both places where we can get into both bars with a wheelchair.

Once inside the circa 1775 bar, a server helps us find and accessible table we can relax at, watch football on TV, listen to the live music, and have a few cold ones. Another perk of using transit is we don’t have to worry about driving after a session at the bar.


While Tim and I have a couple of their outstanding burgers, Letty has her first Maryland crab cake. She pronounces it delicious.

Another Natty Boh (National Bohemian, the beer of Baltimore) and a shot of Don Julio, we’re feeling pretty good when we head back out in the hot and humid air of the waterfront neighborhood.

We take another scenic, waterfront walk until we get back to the Circulator stop.

Cobblestone streets, charming but bumpy for Tim’s wheelchair, lined with townhomes guide us back to an old back bay ship berth where this gent takes a nap at the bus stop. 


No, he’s not dead or homeless, just getting 40 winks.

Eventually, the Orange Line comes by. This will take us by our hotel so we can rest up and recharge a bit before getting right back on to the west side of town.


Here, we visit another historic patch of land. In 1830, the first mile of railroad track in America was laid. There are still a couple of old trains and even a wheelchair accessible train platform.

This is the Baltimore and Ohio (or B&O) Railroad Museum.


In a large, non-air conditioned roundhouse are stored many historic locomotives and livery. The Tom Thumb, the first locomotive, is here.


Outside in the maintenance shop are many more, very large, steam locomotives along with a model train exhibit. 

The displays are beautiful and the trains big and impressive but it’s damn hot today and we make our way out into a sketchy neighborhood.  We walk a few blocks east to our next historic site.


On a small street, a few blocks from the current home of the Baltimore Orioles, sits a small, three-story townhouse.  It’s air conditioned and has an elevator.  Heaven for us today.


Upstairs, a small bedroom is preserved. This is the birthplace of George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth, one of the giants of the game.

It’s a small museum and easily seen within 30 minutes.  It makes for a quick and fitting end to our historic day in Charm City.

Darryl
Copyright 2015 – Darryl Musick
Photos Copyright 2015 – Letty Musick

All Rights Reserved

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