As Carroll draws more and more new residents, it also attracts an ever-larger number of visitors.
No one knows that better than the increasingly busy Office of Tourism, which prepares tour packages and aids visitors in orchestrating their excursions.
In preparing bus tours, bike tours or walking tours, the office works hard to see that natives as well as visitors can discover all ofCarroll County's well-known and not so well-known attractions.
The most popular tour, said Joan Meekins, tourism program administrator, is a ride on a vintage railway car.
More than 900 people on 21 rail tours see the county annually.
Tours are packaged for the convenience of motor coach operators and tour planners, she added.
Meekins said that if a bus operator needs a tour, the office will provide tour guides, make reservations for sites and lunches, arrange transportation routes and pay bills.
"We've found packaging is the bestway to attract groups," she said.
* Sunday walking tour: The Tourism Office is providing a free walking tour of the Courthouse Square in Westminster, including Ascension Church and the historic County Courthouse, beginning Sunday, May 19. The tour guide will depart from the Tourist Information Center, 210 E. Main St., promptlyat 2 p.m. The Sunday tour will be offered, weather permitting, through October.
The Office of Tourism will prepare a complete tour package from reservations to final payments for large groups. Tours include a step-on guide and complimentary arrangements forthe tour planner and bus driver.
Prices and complimentary arrangements are based on 40 paying passengers and are designed for weekdays. Special arrangements may be made for weekends upon request.
A $100 downpayment confirms a tour date. Information: 857-2983.
Available tours include:
* Enchanted Memory Tour.
* Classic Country Tour.
* Back-Country Tour.
* A Treasure Tour.
* Mystery Tour.
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* Uniontown Walking Tour: Uniontown is the gem of Carroll County's small towns and villages, a townscape virtually unchanged from the turn of the century. The tree-lined streets exhibit a diversity of 19th century structures that present a lively museum of rural architectural styles and details.
* Western Maryland Railroad Museum: A 1902 station houses memorabilia from 95 years of railroading.
* New Windsor Service Center: A 1 1/2-hour tour explains services of this center, which includes a worldwide medical assistance program for people in economically developing regions, a clothingprogram encompassing six continents and a disaster relief program.
* Courthouse Square: The approximately 40-minute walking tour includes the Kimmey House at 210 East Main St., the oldest house on the Court House Square Tour that now houses the Historical Society; the Shellman House at 206 East Main St., an historical house museum depicting 19th-century life; Bennett-Parke House, 23 North Court St.; the Ascension Church, the Roberts House, the cemetery, the old jail and the County Courthouse.
* The Westward Expansion Walking Tour: includesthe B.F. Shriver Co., the Babylon Building, the Albion Hotel, the John Christmas Residence and Restaurant, the Wantz Building, the Old Post Office Building, the White Palace, the Schmitt's Rexall, the Gilbert House, the Westminster Fire Company, the Mrs. Frank Myers House, the Wantz House, the Bennett House, the Dr. Charles Billingslea House and the Charles Carroll Hotel/Westminster Hotel.
Other tours combine history with exercise.
The Tourist Information Center offers brochures outlining 10 bike routes. This packet will provide an overview, directions, mileage and highlights of each tour, which make use of county roads suitable for bike riding.
All tours start from a county municipality and loop back to end in the same town.The tours vary in mileage and degree of difficulty, taking pedal pushers past scenic countryside and historic sites.
In 1986, a group of bicycle enthusiasts -- people who work for county or city government or area professionals -- produced this group of self-guided tours.Each person was assigned a different part of the county in which to ride and develop a tour.
They narrowed 23 suggested routes to 10, then further revised those 10. Roads were reviewed for safety, degreeof difficulty and scenic potential. No gravel roads were used and roads without shoulders were used only if they carried light traffic. Some routes take riders past historic sites or stores where bicyclistscan buy lunch or beverages. Some have short and long alternatives.
Brochures are available for $1 at the Tourist Information Center onEast Main Street, Westminster. The packet is designed to fit in a standard plastic folder that snaps onto a bicycle's handlebars.
Bicycle routes include:
* New Windsor: The shortest ride, this 8-mile trek takes riders past the Strawbridge Shrine.