May 272015

We love exploring America’s back roads and small towns and finding overlooked gems that the tourist brochures never cover. In a series of weekly blog posts we will be sharing some of America’s lesser-known small town museums, historic sites, and oddball attractions, on a state-by-state basis. We don’t have room to cover each and every attraction in every state, but hope to give you some ideas for places to see in your travels.

Accokeek: The National Colonial Farm is an outdoor living history museum depicting life for an ordinary tobacco planting family in Prince George’s County in the 1770s.

Annapolis: Established in 1845, the United States Naval Academy trains men and women to become officers in the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Naval Academy Museum, located in Preble Hall on the grounds of the Naval Academy, displays an impressive collection of ship models, paintings, prints, flags, uniforms, swords, firearms, medals, sculptures, manuscripts, rare books, photographs, ship instruments and gear, and a wide variety of personal memorabilia owned by famous Naval heroes.

Annapolis Sign

Annapolis: The Annapolis Maritime Museum tells the story of the city’s long seafaring history with displays of nautical equipment and memorabilia.

Baltimore: The Baltimore Streetcar Museum preserves and displays several very nice examples of the city’s first mass transit vehicles.

Baltimore: The National Aquarium houses thousands of marine animals, birds, and reptiles, and is the city’s most popular attraction.


Baltimore: The B&O Railroad Museum includes five historic buildings and acres of vintage railroad cars.


Baltimore: The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House is dedicated to the story of Mary Young Pickersgill, who made the enormous 30 x 42-foot American flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became our national anthem.

Baltimore: You can learn all about codes and breaking them at the National Cryptologic Museum.


Baltimore: Three ships make up the Baltimore Maritime Museum, including the Coast Guard cutter Taney, the World War II era submarine USS Torsk, and the lightship Chesapeake. The museum also includes the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, built in 1856.


Baltimore: Fort McHenry, the historic star shaped fort that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner during the War of 1812, is now a National Monument and open to tours.

Emmitsburg: The National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, located on the National Fire Academy campus, contains the names of more than 3,000 firefighters who lost their lives serving their communities.


Frederick: The National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick is dedicated to telling the story of medicine in the American Civil War and the advancements in the care of the wounded and injured that came about from that terrible period in our nation’s history.

Frostburg: The Thrasher Carriage Museum has one of the top collections of horse drawn vehicles in the world, representing every walk of life from the milkman to the President of the United States. Pleasure vehicles, funeral wagons, sleighs, and carts are on permanent display in the renovated 19th century warehouse located at historic Depot Center in Frostburg.

Grantsville: Visitors can see Appalachian culture and traditions preserved at Spruce Forest Artisan Village, where artisans demonstrate wood carving, pottery, weaving, and spinning.

Greenbelt: The Visitor Center at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center offers many unique programs, special events, and presentations that highlight Goddard’s contributions to America’s space program. Exhibits include rockets and space vehicles, and a tree whose seeds traveled to the moon and back on the Apollo 14 mission.

Kingsville: Jerusalem Mill was once the centerpiece of the thriving Quaker settlement of Jerusalem in the 18th and 19th centuries. The gristmill operated continuously from 1772 until the last miller died in 1961. Today, Historic Jerusalem Mill Village includes the mill, blacksmith shop, 1830s general store, the Cooper gun shop, which made muskets for the American Revolution, several farmhouses, and a covered bridge.


Lutherville: At the Fire Museum of Maryland, visitors can see antique firefighting equipment, including over 40 vintage fire trucks, a working fire alarm telegraph system, badge and uniform displays, and hand-pulled fire carts.

Ocean City: At the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum, exhibits tell the story of the United States Life-Saving Service on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. Exhibits include old life saving equipment, artifacts recovered from shipwrecks that occurred off the coast of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and New Jersey, dollhouse models of famous Ocean City hotels, and a stuffed 1,200 pound tiger shark that was caught in the water off Ocean City.

Oxon Hill: Administered by the National Park Service, Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm operates as an actual working farm representative of the early 20th century. Here you can see a farmhouse, barns, a stable, feed building, livestock buildings, and a visitor activity barn.

Saint Michaels: Situated on the waterfront in historic St. Michaels, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum tells the stories of the Chesapeake Bay and the people who have lived, worked, and played here. Interpretive exhibitions cover the range of Chesapeake Bay maritime history and culture, including Native American life, 17th and 18th century trans-Atlantic trade, naval history, the Bay’s unique watercraft and boat building traditions, navigation, waterfowling, boating, seafood harvesting, and recreation.

Solomons: The Calvert Marine Museum is one of the premier museums devoted to the Chesapeake Bay. The museum has a nice collection of traditional Chesapeake Bay wooden vessels that once were part of an abundant fleet on the bay.

Thurmont: Built in 1776 and located at Cunningham Falls State Park, Catoctin Iron Furnace produced everything from pig iron to cannons for George Washington’s army to the plates on the famous Civil War ship, the Monitor.


Waldorf: The home of Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd, the physician who set John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg after the actor shot Abraham Lincoln, is now a museum displaying family heirlooms.

Doctor Mudd house

Westminster: The Carroll County Farm Museum is a sprawling 142-acre complex that includes the 1852 Almshouse, also called the County Home, which housed the poor people as well as the insane and criminals, who were held in rooms with barred windows and metal-lined walls. The museum complex also includes a blacksmith shop, a tinsmith shop, broom shop, and exhibits on chair caning, spinning and weaving, and quilting.

Thought For The Day – It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.

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Nick Russell

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