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Though the City Fathers of Baltimore, Maryland, were counting on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to keep them a viable port city, railroads were still a relatively untested technology in 1838. Not only that but it seemed that the rival Chesapeake and Ohio Canal would capture the land needed to build the railroad.

51CBWAtpQ-L._SX425_Making the Survey

In early 1838, Maryland Governor T. W. Veazey directed Col. J. J. Abert, chief of the U.S. Corps of Topographical Engineers to survey a route for C&O Canal to connect to the City of Baltimore. Because of all the public backing, the city had given the railroad effort, the document was not made public until 1874 long after the railroad had proven its worth to the city and country.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad

The B&O Railroad had broken ground on July 4, 1828, with much hoopla and an hours-long parade. Charles Carroll, the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence, helped lay the cornerstone.01_rail_canal

However, the railroad was not without competition. The C&O Canal broke ground on the same day and had the backing of the federal government. To make matters worse, both projects sought to reach Cumberland, Maryland, and capture the lucrative coal trade.

Conditions of the Survey

Abert was told to look for “the most northern practicable route of the routes by the valleys of the Monocacy and the Patapsco, or by a route diverging from said Chesapeake and Ohio Canal at the mouth of the Seneca River.” The chosen route needed to be entirely in Maryland and have an ample supply of water.

Some earlier surveying had been done and Abert was able to narrow the possible routes down to three:

  • The Westminister Route
  • The Linganore Route
  • The Seneca Route

4a10999rThe Report on Canal Routes

Abert submitted his report in April 1838. He found that the Westminister Route was so poor a choice that it didn’t merit further consideration. The Linganore Route lacked water, but it had some possibilities. The Seneca Route was a stronger possibility, though.

In surveying the route, a better choice presented itself and was called the Brookeville Route. It had adequate water and could be built.

Canal Becomes a Moot Point

Whether the governor gave the canal serious consideration is unknown. Four years later, the B&O reached Cumberland and proved itself all that the city had hoped four in making Baltimore a viable port city. The C&O Canal did not reach Cumberland until 1850, eight years later.

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UntitledIf you’re a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe solves the mystery of the great writer’s murder, and you can get it FREE on Kindle until Jan. 13.

You might be thinking that Poe wasn’t murdered. He died in a hospital. You’re wrong.

While he did die at the Washington Medical Center, before that, he was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore and wearing clothes that were not his own. He was admitted to the hospital where he died without explaining what had happened to himself. One clue to what happened to him was that he shouted the name “Reynolds” before he died.

The hospital and its records were later destroyed in a fire, so we’re left with theory and conjecture about how the Master of the Macabre died. One person knows how the Father of the Modern Mystery died, and that person is …

The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe.

This is his story, although it reads like one of Poe’s horror tales.

Alexander Reynolds has been known by many names in his long life, the most famous of which is Lazarus, the man raised from the dead by Christ. Matthew Cromwell is another resurrected being living an extended life. Eternal life has its cost, though, whether or not Alexander and Matthew want to pay it.

Alexander has already seen Matthew kill Edgar’s mother and he is determined to keep the same fate from befalling Edgar.

From the time of Christ to the modern days of the Poe Toaster, The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe is a sweeping novel of love, terror, and mystery that could have come from the imagination of Edgar Allan Poe himself.

Get Your Copy Here

From the reviewers:

  • “Impressively original, exceptionally well written, absolutely absorbing from beginning to end, ‘The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe’ showcases author J. R. Rada’s outstanding skills as a novelist. ” – Reviewer’s Bookwatch
  • “…this fictional nail-biting account of the two men whose blood feud brought about Edgar’s death. … it’s a great ride through suspense, horror, and mystery – worthy of the writer for whom the novel takes license.” – Allegany Magazine

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27124uThe Sixth Massachusetts Regiment wasn’t looking for trouble when they came to Baltimore in April 1861. The city wasn’t even their destination. They were traveling to Washington, D.C., but there was no direct railroad connection between Massachusetts and Washington. The Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad ended at President Street Station. Horses then had to pull the rail cars 10 blocks along Pratt Street to Camden Station and onto the rails of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

The soldiers were answering the request of President Abraham Lincoln who had called for 75,000 troops to put down rebellion that began at Fort Sumter a week earlier. The call had only encouraged the Confederacy. What had been seven Confederate states quickly grew to 11 and many Marylanders wanted their state to be the 12th. These people saw the arrival of Union troops, even those passing through, as a foreign invasion.

With tensions high, the Baltimore Police escorted the Massachusetts troops as they transferred between stations. Nine rail cars were allowed to pass over the Jones Falls bridge with little but catcalls like “Let the police go and we’ll lick you” or “Wait till you see Jeff Davis” harassing them.

When the tenth car approached the bridge, someone in the gathering mob managed to throw the brake on the car and stop it. The crowd then pelted the rail car with paving stones as the soldiers within took cover.

The crowd quickly grew to 800 people who began to tear up the street and tracks with shovels and picks. With no way to continue, the soldiers were faced with marching through the growing mob in order to get to Camden Station. However, the mob had continued to grow both in size and anger. It was now estimated to be 2,000 people strong.

When the troops didn’t leave the relative safety of the rail car, the mob prepared to storm it. They were only stopped by the Baltimore Police who rushed in force to put themselves between the crowd and the rail car.

With the tracks blocked, the troops had no choice but to disembark into the hostile crowd. They formed ranks and began to slowly push their way toward the Camden Street station. The mob wasn’t willing to let them go so easily, though. The soldiers tried to march in one direction and were blocked by an unyielding crowd. When they reversed direction, the mob blocked them in that direction, too.

“Then the crowd pressed stronger, until the body reached the corner of Gay street, where the troops presented arms and fired,” according to an eyewitness account published in The Sun. “Several persons fell on the first round, and the crowd became furious. A number of revolvers were used, and their shots took effect in the ranks.”

Chaos reigned as people scattered, yelling and trampling each other. The police efforts were overwhelmed within minutes as they lost control of the situation.

The soldiers now found themselves in a running fight with the mob as they tried to reach Camden Station. The mob continued throwing bricks and stones and some even got a hold of weapons and fired toward the soldiers.

“After firing this volley the soldiers again broke into a run, but another shower of stones being hurled into the ranks at Commerce street with such force as to knock several of them down, the order was given to another portion of them to halt and fire, which had to be repeated before they could be brought to a halt,” according to The Sun. “They then wheeled and fired some twenty shots, but from their stooping and dodging to avoid the stones, but four or five shots took effect, the marks of a greater portion of their balls being visible on the walls of the adjacent warehouses, even up to the second stories. Here four citizens fell, two of whom died in a few moments; and the other two were carried off, supposed to be mortally wounded.”

3c32929uOne soldier who was brought down by the mob begged for his life, saying “he was threatened with instant death by his officers if he refused to accompany them. He said one-half of them had been forced to come in the same manner, and he hoped all who forced others to come might be killed before they got through the city.” Whether he spoke the truth or just hoped to win his life is not known, but the mob took no further action against him.

The soldiers eventually reached Camden Station and the police formed up their own ranks to block the mob. The troops were alive but they had lost much of their equipment and some of their wounded, who they had been forced to leave behind.

The small battle left four soldiers and 12 civilians dead. It is not known how many civilians were wounded but 36 soldiers were left behind to be treated. One of the dead soldiers, Corporal Sumner Henry Needham, is sometimes considered to be the first Union casualty in the Civil War, though he was killed by civilians.

Though the Maryland legislature voted against secession on April 26, it had to meet in Frederick to do it for fear of inciting another riot. Union troops were also deployed throughout the state to ensure that it remained within the Union. Confederate sympathizers like the mayor of Baltimore and the police commissioner were imprisoned in Fort McHenry.

The most-lasting effect of the riot is that it inspired James Ryder Randall to write “Maryland, My Maryland,” a strongly Southern supporting song, which eventually became the state song.

 

 

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eshelman02

As Paul Harvey used to say, “Here’s the rest of the story” about the Gettysburg man who tried to fly a plane to Mars.

People thought Cheston Eshleman, a Gettysburg High School graduate, was crazy when he tried to fly to Mars in a small airplane in 1939. Maybe they were right, but there’s a fine line between crazy and genius.

Eshleman’s flight of fancy cost him his pilot’s license, but it didn’t stop him from thinking about flying and how it could be done better. One of the things he thought about was how an airplane might be improved so that he could have had a better chance of flying further, although not necessarily in outer space.

One of his designs was called a “flying flounder” or “flying pancake” by people who saw it, but Eshleman called it his “flying carpet.” In 1942, the Gettysburg Times reported that the odd plane “has aroused the interest of Army and Navy officials.”

Eshleman, who was 25 years old, had been testing his new plane in Baltimore since January of 1942. By late July, it had flown successfully 62 times.

“A friend pilots the ship on its tests for Eshleman has been unable to fly since his license was revoked after a fishing boat picked him up at the end of his ‘Mars’ flight,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

Eshleman’s “flying carpet” was 24 feet long and 12 feet wide. It was made entirely of plastic except for some electronics and wiring. Eshleman and six other men had built the airplane in eight weeks at a cost of $5,000 (about $73,000 today). He told reporters that he believed that he could build a larger version of the plane in half the time.

“The wingless construction, he states, has reduced drag or wind resistance 30 per cent providing for speed increase. The aircraft, he asserts, retains normal lifting power, can land in a very small space, and will make 190 miles an hour when powered by a 130-horsepower motor. It has a normal tail assembly and a propeller in front,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

While most of the bugs had been worked out of the design by July, the maiden flight of the plane had been disappointing at best.

“The craft got a few feet off the ground, bounced back to earth, and caught fire. It looked like the end of an experiment which in a letter to President Roosevelt Eshleman had said would ‘cause all existing aircraft in the world to become historic,’” the newspaper reported.

Eshleman’s airplane designs were patented in 1943 and his start-up company began building light, commercial aircraft in Dundalk, Md.

After World War II ended, his attention seemed to shift from aircraft to other types of machinery. The Cheston L. Eshleman Company in Baltimore built lawn mowers, plows and garden tractors.

Then in 1953, his attention shifted again and he began building small, one-cylinder automobiles, golf carts, boats, and scooters. Though no longer building planes, he paid homage to his interstellar dream by calling his boat design, the “Rocket Boat,” which was built from surplus military aircraft wing tanks.

The one-cylinder, air-cooled, two-horsepower engine powered the car up to 15 mph and cost $295. It was sold as a child’s car while the adult car cost $395 and had a three-horsepower engine that could travel at 25 mph. The small cars featured battery-operated head and tail lamps, upholstered seats, and rocket emblems (an Eshleman trademark feature) on the flanks. The cars could also get 70 miles per gallon.

Eshleman ran an effective mail-order campaign to sell most of the vehicles. However, this proved a detriment when many people were disappointed at the small size of the cars, which were 54 inches long, 24 inches wide and 23 inches tall. They quickly returned the vehicles.

After a fire destroyed the Baltimore factory in 1956, the company moved to Crisfield, Md., and renamed itself the Eshleman Motor Company in 1959. It also started building slightly larger cars that were up to 72 inches long and 60 inches tall.

While the company continued building cars, Eshleman moved to Miami, Fla., and began working on new design for a front bumper. Eshleman called it a “crash absorber” and made it from a tire. It was impact resistant up to 15 mph.

Though he continued to invent and earn patents, Eshleman largely retired from the business world in 1967.

Eshleman died at age 87 in 2004, never having reached Mars, though he had certainly seen his dreams soar.

 

 

 

 

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