Smithsonian group makes tracks to Sykesville museums


January 25, 2000|By Sherry Graham | Sherry Graham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

RAILWAY HISTORY is putting the town of Sykesville on the map. The town, which was once a stop along the main line of the B&O Railroad, was the destination of a Smithsonian tour group Saturday.

About two dozen railroad buffs participated in the tour sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates, a group that organizes and promotes tours for the Smithsonian Institution.

The group traveled by bus from Washington to visit Sykesville & Patapsco Railway's train museum, Sykesville Gate House Museum of History and have lunch at Baldwin's Station.

Members of Sykesville & Patapsco Railway were on hand in the club's refurbished 1910 Pullman car to run several train displays. Also of interest were several antique trains on loan for the day from Phil Barnes.

The visitors toured a 1925 caboose, which is being restored by the club. The caboose shares about 80 feet of track with the Pullman car.

More railroad history was on display at Sykesville Gate House Museum, where guests viewed the holiday display of 70-year-old Lionel trains and heard the clang of a bell that once announced the arrival of a steam locomotive.

Lunch at a train station- turned-restaurant was a fitting conclusion of the Sykesville tour. A trip into Ellicott City, another former stop along the B & O, was the group's final destination.

"It was an honor to be chosen to be part of a tour by the Smithsonian," said Mark Bennett, president of Sykesville & Patapsco Railway. "The group seemed really impressed with the way everybody in town works together to preserve the railroad history."

Club member Tom Schwartz was also pleased with the chance to be host to the tour group.

"It's nice to know that the efforts of the town of Sykesville and of the Sykesville and Patapsco Railway are being recognized," he said.

A notation about the model railroad club in the Carroll Tourism Guide caught the attention of tour planners for Smithsonian Associates and led the museum to plan the Sykesville tour.

Members of the model railroad club hope plans for the town's interlocking tower and other railroad memorabilia will draw more visitors.

Klondike cold

Despite bitter cold weather, Boy Scouts from all over Carroll County converged on Freedom Park in Sykesville on Saturday to test their skills in the annual Klondike Derby.

Nearly 2,000 Scouts were registered to participate, but only 1,500 Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts braved cold conditions to make their way through more than two dozen stations testing their skills in knot tying, fire building and teamwork.

The weather sent many Scouts home earlier than planned.

"It definitely was cold," said Dorothy Bennett, mother of four participating Scouts. "There were people who left early because of the cold, but we figured we took the trouble to be there, so we were going to do as many stations as we could."

Bennett led her son Jeff and a den of Cub Scouts through many of the skill stations before they ended about noon.

She spent the rest of the afternoon watching sons Dan and Tom make their way through the Boy Scout stations.

Eldest son Chris was occupied with the honor group known as the Order of the Arrow as it provided hot food and drinks to Scouts and parents.

"A Klondike is supposed to be associated with the images of cold weather, snow and ice," said Mark Bennett, their father, "but you don't always get the snow to go with it."

According to event coordinator Ed Cross, Freedom Park is the ideal location for the Klondike, which was held at the park for the third consecutive year.

A small group of Scouts and adults decided to brave the cold and camped overnight in the park.

"They borrowed some extra heating equipment from me and just returned it," said Cross. "They said they had a great time camping out."

Talent competition

The annual Talent Show sponsored by the Varsity Club at Liberty High School brought many singers, dancers, magicians and performers to the stage Saturday evening.

Twenty-six acts participated in the event, which raised about $1,000 for the club for scholarships and end-of-year awards.

Claiming first prize in the elementary school division was singer Jason Champion.

His sister Jessica Champion was awarded second prize for her singing and tap dancing.

Nicole Kerber danced her way to first prize in the middle school division.

The winner in the high school division was magician Doug Hieatzman.

Varsity Club adviser Helen Derwin said less traditional performers included Jeremy Hagy, who clipped 117 clothespins on his face, and Chris Nesbaum, who placed nails and a screwdriver in his nose.

Sherry Graham's Southeast neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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