'It's Like Mayberry'

March 01, 1995|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

It's not exactly remote -- downtown Baltimore is 25 miles to the south and the burgeoning towns of Hampstead and Manchester are a few minutes away -- it's just that Lineboro isn't on the way to anywhere.

Tucked into the northeast corner of Carroll County along the Mason-Dixon Line that lent the town its name, the half-mile-long burg boasts one restaurant, two feed stores, a lumber yard and a garage that specializes in tractor repairs.

"You can walk around the town and actually know people," said Michael Kaiser, 35, who grew up in Bethesda but moved to Lineboro 18 months ago. "It's like Mayberry."

County planner Kenneth Short, who has applied to put the unincorporated town on the National Register of Historic Places, said that "it's not that big a jump to imagine it 75 years ago."

If Mr. Short succeeds in getting the historic designation, home and business owners could get tax credits, loans and even grants to restore their buildings, and maybe even peel off the aluminum siding that covers a few 19th-century frame houses.

County planners think the historic status might draw some attention to the town that once pulled summer weekenders from Baltimore, when it had a hotel and train station, Mr. Short said.

"It deserves people getting off the beaten path to see it. They will get a sense of history," Mr. Short said.

Farmland stretches out behind the 50 or so houses along Lineboro's Main Street, but some residents worry about maintaining the small-town feel.

"I want to put up speed bumps through my little town," said Wanda Waugh, a Main Street resident and unofficial town historian.

The population is about 200. Families go back four and five generations here, with German names such as Warner, Kopp, Wentz and Wertz.

"I'm a newcomer. I've only been here 24 years," Mrs. Waugh said. But when she moved in, she said, "I knew I wanted to stay. I knew this was home."

She and her husband, John, have two daughters. The elder, Julie Parrish, 26, is married and has a baby. She wants to move back from nearby Manchester because she thinks that with 3,000 residents, it's a little too urban.

Lynn Waugh, 24, is a Towson State University graduate, happy for now with city life in Baltimore's Charles Village. But she might move back when she has children.

"I see 5- and 6-year-old kids on the street at 1 in the morning in the city," Ms. Waugh said. "That would never happen where I grew up."

Lineboro is a mix of retired people, commuters to Towson or Hunt Valley and the dwindling number of families who have managed to maintain both home and business there.

"At one time, Lineboro was self-sufficient. If there was anything you wanted, you could get it," Wanda Waugh said.

The town once had a barber and a cobbler. Until it closed in 1981, a general store had its three floors stocked with just about anything a person would need.

Even now, Mrs. Waugh wouldn't live anywhere else.

"My next move is going to be to a funeral home or a nursing home," she said. And since Lineboro has neither, she'll have to leave town.

Lineboro does, however, have a cemetery at the Lazarus Church, with three times as many graves as the town has living residents.

The church is one of the anchors in the town that experienced its greatest growth in the 1870s, although land records can be traced back to a man named Verick Whissler in 1745, when the area was called Plymouth.

Just as the town identifies with two states -- people have as much connection to Hanover, Pa., as to the equidistant county seat of Westminster -- it has a duality of origin: railroad and farming.

The Western Maryland Railroad laid tracks near the Houck grist mill in the late 1870s. The trains probably made just enough of a difference that the town grew there instead of near another mill, Mr. Short said.

The train hasn't stopped in Lineboro for about three decades, and Houck's is long gone.

But the sweet smell of grain and the molasses permeates Warner's feed store. The wooden floors are worn smooth from the 100-pound bags of corn and oats that have been dragged across them.

For decades, the store doubled as a station for passengers and freight. In the days before television, the local men used to gather in the evenings around the coal stove in the office, while Raymond Warner filled out his railroad books.

Mr. Warner's son, William, now 75, runs the feed store with his son, Allen, 42. Suburban "backyard farmers" from as far as Glen Burnie and Columbia come up on weekends to buy feed. Mr. Warner and his son drive to Baltimore every Wednesday to deliver to two stores on Fleet Street.

The store also offers eggs from Allen Warner's small farm, north of the border in West Manhime Township, Pa.

His wife, Kate Warner, keeps books at the store and sells feed and animal care products, some of them used for humans. Customers often use their Bag Balm for hands, even though the directions on the can refer only to udders.

For Allen Warner, Lineboro isn't nearly remote enough.

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