Saturday & Sunday (trip report)

By Saturday afternoon I’d had enough of the heavy rain and idiot drivers; I just missed contributing to a multi-car pileup on I-40 near Wallace. (Do not tailgate in heavy rain showers.)

I arrived in Wilmington, checked in to the hotel, and went looking for food. I pigged out – at Smithfield’s BBQ. Real eastern NC bbq is the one food I can’t readily reproduce in Jersey, thus the quick feast. After that it was time to explore the downtown a bit, take a few photos, and off to the theater.

I was in Wilmington to see “1776”, with lifelong friend Robin Dale Robertson in a substantial role – he played Mr. Thomson, clerk to the Continental Congress. Kudos for him for finding a role which allowed him to read his lines – every time!

The play was staged in the Ballroom/City Council Chamber space at Thalian Hall. Thalian Hall, built in 1858, has always combined the theatre with the city government of Wilmington. The staging allowed for a “House” seating area of two rows of seats on either side of the main floor (I was seated second row center on the far side); and a cabaret-style “Senate” area in the center – mixing actors and audience together. My rough count is there were 150 seats for the audience – thus a small show.

The staging made the action more interesting; the cast was generally excellent although a few actors were singing way too loud for the space. 1776 is a long show; it ran four hours and a bit on Broadway (I saw it in 1972 near the end of its run); this show clocked in close to five hours as some time was used at the start for a charitable fundraiser pitch… and more time used at intermission to take souvenir photos (or perhaps they were alibis!).

Sunday morning found a break in the clouds, and it was off to Salter Path (actually Pine Knoll Shores) for the Road Scholar Program. Since I had most of the day free before registration (4pm at Trinity Center) I decided to do a bit more photography, and check out the areas. It’s been three years since I was down here, and yes – there have been some significant changes.

I turned off in Jacksonville to take NC-24 up to the beach, and along the way stopped by the Cedar Point Wildlife Trail (part of Croatan National Forest) to see how the hurricane had affected the area. The damage is noticeable – a lot less trees in many areas, and most of the snags are gone. With the snags (dead trees still standing) gone, the ospreys have retreated to areas well back in the preserve.

But with a medium telephoto lens, and by carefully listening to calls, I was able to find a juvenile pair. I contemplated getting the big (500mm) lens out but it was starting to spit rain again, and that lens is not weather resistant. So I stayed with just the one photo of the pair:

Of course, as soon as I left it cleared up a bit, so I swung north on NC-58 to see about getting good photos of the oldest church in the vicinity – the 1815 Hadnot Creek Primitive Baptist church. When I got there, after a few perimeter shots and a ‘hope-it-works’ shot through the window, a car pulled in behind me. The woman (a neighbor) decided I was just a photographer, and tipped me to the cemeteries hidden behind the church.

After this, it was off to Trinity Center for a weak of Road Scholar. Photos from that tour, along with a review, will be in a forthcoming post.

First trip of 2019

So it was time to travel. Part of the rationale for leaving the college classroom was to allow for more flexibility in travel plans – thus time to test that out. I decided to give Road Scholar a whirl.

Road Scholar is the marketing name for Elderhostel, which organizes tours for older people to various locales, and around varied themes. My parents went on 27 such adventures over a ten-year span, and quite enjoyed most of them… back in the late 80s and early 90s. Nowadays the organization is vastly larger and attempts to appeal to a broader audience (hence the name change). I decided on a tour “Historic Homes and Gardens of NC’s Crystal Coast” – in that I knew it was in driving distance, I was familiar with the area, and it was relatively inexpensive. Continue reading First trip of 2019

The Farm Journal Map

A persistent area of interest for me is cartography; the science of mapmaking. I have a substantial collection of maps (both printed and digital), including a few that I’ve made. However it’s historical maps which are often of the greatest interest, for those point out features which may be worth photographing (especially churches and railroad structures).

Rutgers University has an online resource for maps at the Rutgers Cartography Lab. One of the maps in the collection is a 1913 Farm Journal map of southern New Jersey.

1913 map south jersey from Rutgers
Clicking on map takes you to image source – which you can enlarge.

One quickly notices a proliferation of small red numbers labelling every road. What are these numbers?

To understand that, we have to think about the purpose of this map. It was published by the Farm Journal of Philadelphia, as a finder’s aid to go with their Directories. A directory was published for each county in the Farm Journal’s coverage region (which in 1913 comprised most of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland). For Gloucester County New Jersey, the corresponding directory is online in digital form at

Once you see the directory, it becomes clear what the numbers are – they’re road numbers, similar to a modern [printed] map’s row-column index. In 1913 few roads outside of a town had names; and if they did, it was to name the endpoints (Williamstown-Glassboro Road) or a prominent feature (Alms House Road). Thus for a directory and map to be of any use, the publisher had to impose some form of organization.

To understand how this works in practice, an example is in order.

From the directory for Deptford Township, I’ve extracted this fragment, and highlighted one entry in yellow, two in light orange. In yellow, Chas Alley is a shoe cutter located near Almonesson on H19 (a road marked on the map). The orange highlights are for H33 near Blackwood.


Looking on the map, road 19 is quite visible as a segment just northeast of Almonesson; and road 33 is the stretch between Fairview and Blackwood.


The roads are numbered starting in the northwest corner of each township and ending in the southeast corner… or from upper-left to lower-right.

The Church in a Barn

…and no, it’s not what you think.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, churches were important parts of a community, and thus were built of substantial materials, intended to last. As such, when a church was decommissioned, it was often sold – either to another congregation, or someone in the local community.

Juliustown NJ is a village, established 1731 when Julius Ewan took possession of land in the area, and established a weaver’s mill nearby. By 1824 the Methodists arrived, and built a church. In 1869 they replaced the original church with the one which serves today.

We set out to find the original church… Frank Greenagel, proprietor/publisher of the NJ Churchscape, had found various mentions in historical collections about the 1824 church being moved to a farm in the vicinity.

When we first arrived in Juliustown early in the morning, a passing patrolman stopped to see if we needed help. When told about the quest, he said “Oh yeah I think that’s Jim Haines’ barn – follow me and I’ll show you.”

Is this the church we seek? The dimensions are a bit… off… but maybe if you leave off that center part where the wood looks a bit different… Let’s see the interior.

Lath and plaster walls in a barn? Uh huh. This is a good sign that this is the church we seek. Let’s go back outside and look closer…

and there, under the chicken wire, is some beadwork. Nobody does this for a barn, but for a church in the 1820s it was a common low-cost ornamentation.

After an early-morning chat with the owner, and some more research… yep. This is the 1824 church.

Avoiding Washington

For more than twenty years I’ve travelled by car from New Jersey to coastal North Carolina (and back). “Normal” routing would be to follow I-95 from the Trenton (NJ) area to somewhere in Johnston County NC to strike east to the coast.

Do it that way and you get to travel some of the most congested and accident-prone highways in the country. I’d prefer to avoid most of that.

Thus I’ve developed an alternate route – it’s a bit longer in distance, and may be an hour slower on a ‘good’  day, but it avoids virtually all the traffic choke points of Baltimore-Washington-Fredericksburg-Richmond.

A partially-annotated map of the route may be found here (Google Maps).

Some more notes, organized North-to-South:


From the Delaware Memorial Bridge to exit 1 (DE-896, start of avoidance route) is the section I think of as the Delaware Memorial Speedway. Speed limits posted here are routinely ignored; as far as I can tell the way you get pulled is for excessive lane-changes or lack of license plate. It’s not unusual to cruise at 70 MPH in the ‘slow’ lane and watch traffic buzzing by at 85+ in the fast lane… posted limit is 55.

Middletown Pizza is a good food stop for afternoon-evening trips; nice family-owned pizzeria with good salads and decent pizza. The nearby Wawa is the best bet for fuel.


Crossing in to Maryland the road goes from two lanes to four lanes; watch for at-grade crossings and periodic sightings of MD State Police. You’ll have to travel 40 miles to the “welcome” center; and it only runs on bankers hours. You’re in Perdue country – most agriculture here is poultry farms and associated feed mills – and don’t be surprised by low-flying aircraft; or geese, in season.

After the merge with US 50 (Queenstown MD) there is [overpriced] decent seafood to be had on Kent Island just before the Bay Bridge… near the marinas to the south side. As I recall the little shack in the parking lot is better than the big lodge-style restaurant.

US 50/301 in Annapolis is the Capital Area Speedway – again, speed limit signs are advisory. Enforcement appears to be completely arbitrary.

In Bowie, take US 301 south and enter the Crain Highway, also known as Red-Light-Camera-Road. Rips Country Inn (on left) is a slowly fading seafood house and a retro-style motel (decorated in the 1950s). From here to Waldorf is unremarkable except for the number of signs promoting various housing projects.

Waldorf – prior to Spiro Agnew becoming governor this was the casino heart of Maryland; sin city outside of DC. Most of the casinos are now gone but a few shells remain behind – the most notable being the former Rips restaurant/Waldorf Inn hotel complex (still standing as of May 2013 but may not last much longer). This is a shopping destination and about every chain store and restaurant is represented in the area… none remarkable.

La Plata – in 2002 a huge tornado crossed 301 headed east destroying everything in its path; see historical markers in the area. Of note also is the Thomas Stone National Historic Site, a few miles to the west of town. Stone was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence.

Approaching the Harry Nice bridge is the worst Speed Trap of the trip – a 20-MPH radar-enforced area. Given the $6.00 toll I think the bridge isn’t quite Nice enough, but in a dozen years or so there will be a parallel crossing to improve capacity.

Virginia notes will be in a separate post.