I decided to go on yet another car trip on the Star-Spangled Banner Trail for the third time this summer. (You can read previous entries and view photographs on the first trip and second trip.) I wanted to take a route that’s similar to what I took on June 2 because on that trip there were buildings that I wanted to visit but they were only open on the weekends. (I only made a weekday trip because I needed to go to the Prince George’s County Courthouse for getting a certified copy of my divorce certificate so I can mail it off in the hopes of getting whatever retirement benefits I’m entitled to get as the ex-wife of a federal employee. And the courthouse is on the Star-Spangled Banner Trail.)

The one big difference is that I decided to check out a small town that I didn’t know existed until just a few years ago (when there was much hype about the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812). While I’ve long known the town of Upper Marlboro really well (it’s the county seat of Prince George’s County and that ever-busy courthouse is also located there), I didn’t know that Lower Marlboro existed until recently.

Lower Marlboro is located 15 miles south of Upper Marlboro in a different county (Calvert County). Lower Marlboro was invaded by British troops during the War of 1812 at the same time that the British invaded Upper Marlboro and other towns along the Patuxent River.

So I drove south to Lower Marlboro, where I began my drive on the Star-Spangled Banner Trail. There are a few things about Lower Marlboro that I noticed. For one thing, Upper Marlboro is a huge booming metropolis compared to Lower Marlboro. The next photo shows pretty much the entire town.

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There is only one road that runs through that town with no traffic lights but plenty of stop signs. There are also no sidewalks so you have to walk in the street while being prepared to move on to someone’s lawn if a car approaches.

The next photo shows the historic Lower Marlboro United Methodist Church with its adjacent cemetery. That church is the only house of worship I saw in Lower Marlboro.

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Lower Marlboro is filled with privately-owned homes, many of which date as far back as the early 19th century. There are some interesting touches, such as this home in the next photo that has a tree with an interesting looking trunk, along with some nice looking gardens.

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The oldest home in Lower Marlboro is the Harbor Master’s House, which dates back to 1670. Unfortunately that home is privately owned and is not opened to the general public. That house was on sale when I visited it so if you want to have the opportunity to own a piece of history with a direct view of the Patuxent River, call the realtor’s phone number that’s posted on a sign in one of the below pictures.

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There is a side street that leads to the docks that are built along the Patuxent River.

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The dock area provides some lovely scenic views of the Patuxent River along with plenty of boating and fishing opportunities. (While I was taking these pictures, I saw a group of senior citizens drive up in a van. I saw that they were taking out fishing poles and I realized that they were preparing for an afternoon of fishing.)

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There’s also a warning about some invasive catfish species which have plagued the Patuxent.

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The sign in the next photo is the only one that indicates the fact that Lower Marlboro once suffered through the horrors of war. Otherwise, you would never guess that a violent invasion once went through this peaceful town.

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Basically Lower Marlboro is a place that one can go through in a half-an-hour or less. I would recommend combining a trip to this town with visits to other places (such as St. Mary’s City or Solomon’s Island) because there’s really not much to the town beyond some lovely vistas.

So I decided to start making my way back north. I went back to Patuxent River Park, which I last visited in June, because all of the buildings were closed when I was there the last time so I had to make do with watching the vistas of the Patuxent River. This time I focused on the buildings of the Patuxent Rural Life Museums, which are located in the park, because they were open only on the weekends and I arrived on a Saturday. The Patuxent Rural Life Museums are a collection of late 19th century-early 20th century buildings that focused on Prince George’s County’s past when it was mostly a rural area. (While there are still some country roads in that county, they are slowly being encroached by more and more suburban development.)

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Walking around that area was literally like taking a step back in time.

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The Duckett Log Cabin was built by a former slave-turned-sharecropper and there were members of that family who still lived in that cabin as late as the 1920’s. It’s very small yet looks pretty cozy. The cabin have separate nearby buildings for an outhouse and a chicken coop.

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There’s the Sears House. It may sound hard to believe now given Sears’ current problems, but there was a time when the company actually sold mail order homes through the mail. All the purchaser needed to do was to find some land to build it on. Once the home arrived in pieces, the purchaser could choose to put it together by him/herself (the house included an instructions manual) or hire someone to do the job for him/her. The Sears House came in a variety of sizes that suited a variety of budgets. The Sears House in this museum is one of the cheapest homes that one could buy. It was a basic no-frills model that only had one bedroom and no plumbing. (For an extra $40 the buyer of that particular model could opt to buy a separate kit to build an outhouse.) This Sears House included period furniture and it was interesting to look at even if all of the rooms are a bit on the narrow side.

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The next few photos show the Trapping House, which is devoted fishing and hunting along the Patuxent River.

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The next photos show the Tobacco Museum, which is devoted to Maryland’s tobacco industry. It brought back memories for me because I grew up in an area of Glen Burnie that was close to the Severn border. Once you drive south on Crain Highway out of Glen Burnie, the road changes its name to New Cut Road and the area immediately changes from a suburban area to a rural area full of farms. I remember a number of barns along that road drying tobacco that was newly harvested from the fields. Tobacco barns have certain side panels that can be raised or lowered in order to let the air circulate and dry the tobacco leaves as fast as possible. This museum focuses on the tobacco harvesting process along with information about how tobacco used to be marketed years ago. (For example, smoking cigarettes were marketed to women as something that independent free spirits would do.) There was one display that discussed the downside of smoking (such as lung cancer.)

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After I finished touring the museums, I went to a park bench and ate a lunch that I brought with me while viewing the Patuxent River. It happened to be a relatively nice day with the temperatures in the low 80’s and very low humidity. After lunch I got back in my car where I made a return trip to the Mount Calvert Historical & Archeological Park. I took extensive photos of that site on my last visit but I decided to take a few new token photos of the grounds mainly because my previous photos were taken on an overcast and rainy day. Here is what the place looks like on a bright sunny day.

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photo73The mansion was closed on my last visit so I made visiting it my top priority this time around. It turned out that only one floor of the mansion is opened to the general public on the weekends. The mansion has exhibits dealing with archaeology and the various items that have been found on the grounds of the mansion. It was pretty nice and I can see how archaeology enthusiasts would really get a kick out of touring that mansion. Some of the found artifacts were interesting.

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I ultimately drove north into Upper Marlboro. I decided to check out the grave of a major figure in the War of 1812, Dr. William Beanes. He was the man who was captured by the British and taken to Baltimore where his lawyer, Francis Scott Key, tried to negotiate with the British troops for his release. During that incident, Key saw Baltimore being bombarded by the British and he was moved to write a poem that would later become the lyrics to the U.S. national anthem—”The Star-Spangled Banner.” A sign near Dr. Beanes’ grave indicates his place in history.

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Dr. Beanes’ grave is located at the top of a very steep hill. In order to access it, one must walk a half-a-block away, walk up some stone steps leading to a now-shuttered building, turn right, walk past that abandoned building and a smaller abandoned home until you come to this structure that’s just like the next photo.

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Dr. William Beanes is buried next to his wife, Sarah, who was the niece of one of the major figures of the American Revolution, John Hanson, and who died six years before he did.

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The grave is one of the few interesting places that’s actually worth checking out in Upper Marlboro. (As I wrote in a previous entry, that town seems to be dominated by bail bonds.) If you decide to go, do so only on weekends or holidays. Parking is definitely a problem on the weekday due mainly to the courthouse. Also, combine it with a trip to nearby Darnall’s Chance or some other place because it doesn’t take very long to see this grave.

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