In the towns of Carroll County -- the only county in the region with no interstate highways -- residents have long been at war with the 18-wheelers that thunder down narrow main streets built a century ago for horse-drawn buggies.
And as the towns seek state money to build bypasses, one thing is clear: The big rigs are winning -- and the list of casualties is growing.
In New Windsor, a town of 1,100 residents and graceful old homes along Route 31, the main east-west route, trucks have wrecked sidewalks, rattled windows and rocked foundations. One stately house close to the road had to be demolished after its foundation was severely damaged.
The town once had a picturesque little intersection with an antique iron fountain-and-lamppost, a historic treasure from New Windsor's days as a crossroads for wagons and Model-T's.
After the fountain had several run-ins with trucks that jumped the curb, residents decided the antique could not withstand another expensive welding. The familiar landmark that figures in so many family photos was put into storage.
The mayor's century-old Victorian home on Main Street at Route 75 and his office in the carriage-house out back shake constantly.
"I was on the phone this morning with the windows closed and the caller said, `What's that? Sounds like a train,' " said Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. "The worst is what you imagine. You hear the brakes squealing, and you wonder if the truck is going to hit the house."
The parade of trucks begins at dawn and goes until dusk every weekday, hauling grain, milk, stone, cement -- any transportable commodity along the two-lane state highways that run through town. Only the most adroit truckers can maneuver the tight turns at key intersections.
In his 50 years with the trucking industry, Floyd Shipley, owner of Jano Enterprises in Westminster, said he has seen the size of rigs lengthen and widen, but not town streets.
"These towns have been there for years, and their roads were designed for shorter trucks, maybe even horse-and- buggies," Shipley said. "You know when you start a turn that you are not going to make it. You sure don't want any vehicles coming toward you either. Somebody will have to back up then."
Some truckers driving through New Windsor have lost their loads, and many have taken chunks of sidewalks away.
"They will hit the steps and you'll hear a BOOM -- that's a tire exploding," said Julia Roop Cairns, who lives at Main and High streets. "It is really impossible for the big ones to make my corner."
The larger haulers are 72 feet long and can carry as much as 80,000 pounds, said Shipley.
The big rigs swing wide, right into the opposite lane. They have dumped cargo on the lawn of St. Paul's United Methodist Church -- Cairns has photos of broken piles of lumber strewn across the church yard.
Trucks have trimmed more trees than town maintenance crews, Cairns said. Despite the damages, she said, "It will be another century before we see a bypass."
Residents of other Carroll towns seeking a bypass tell similar tales. Houses that predate the Civil War were built close to the road, and those who live in them must adapt to the noise, the fumes and the dust from truck traffic.
"You move to the back of the house and you turn the TV up louder," said Howard Grundland of Main Street in Manchester. "Even in the summer, you keep the house closed up."
Grundland hears the dishes rattle in the cupboards and watches curios slide across bookcases.
Henry Heine remembers one of the first nights he spent in his 150-year-old home on Baltimore Street, Taneytown's main thoroughfare. Truck noise had him "jumping out of bed, because I thought a train was coming through," he said.
"Taneytown was around long before trucks, and its streets were designed based on traffic at that time -- horse-and-buggy," said Heine, a member of the city council. "Now we have about 200 trucks a day roaring through."
He knows never to park his car on the street. Many a neighbor has lost side mirrors and more. Heine awoke one morning to find a pickup truck on his lawn, the result of a collision with a much bigger rig.
Fourth in line
"We have been fighting for a bypass for a long time," Heine said. "We are fourth on the list, but everybody knows what happened to the three ahead of us."
Those three -- Hampstead, Westminster and Manchester -- have been in line for a bypass for as long as 30 years. Hampstead had funding approved for a $35 million route around town, but construction has been delayed. Bog turtles, a threatened species, live in the proposed pathway.
Plans for bypasses in Westminster and Manchester were recently eliminated from the state's transportation plan. The roads ran afoul of the governor's Smart Growth initiative to eliminate sprawl, but both towns are still lobbying state officials.
"We are listening to any suggestions on alternative routes," said Manchester Mayor Elmer C. Lippy. "They are not taking bypass money away from us without a fight."