John Smith's first exploration into Harford County was during the summer of 1608. Even before that time, the area around the Chesapeake was full of history and artifacts. Each museum in the county documents a small piece of that history whether it is about the geology of the land, the people who lived on the land or the art inspired by the land.
Here are some of the museums found in Harford County:
The Concord Point Lighthouse at Lafayette and Concord streets in Havre de Grace is the oldest continuously operated lighthouse in Maryland. It has been serving sailors for more than 170 years and is open to the public from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekends April through October. The original lighthouse keeper's residence is nearby and is undergoing restoration. 410-939-9040.
FOR THE RECORD - A listing published Oct. 26 in the Bel Air & Harford Hometown Guide tabloid section incorrectly reported that the Hays House Museum retains nearly all of Thomas Archer Hays' furnishings. The Hays House was built in 1788 and retains most of its original structural details. More information about the museum is available at www.harfordhistory.net.
The Sun regrets the errors.
Havre de Grace Decoy Museum enlists the services of master craftsmen and hobbyists to carve likenesses of the species of waterfowl that inhabit the Chesapeake Bay area. It is at 215 Giles St. in Havre de Grace and sponsors decoy-related activities throughout the year. 410-939-3739.
Open from May through September, the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum was established to preserve the ecological and cultural heritage of the Chesapeake Bay region and exhibits photographs, artifacts and memorabilia documenting maritime activities. It is at 100 Lafayette St. 410-939-4800.
The Hays House Museum is an example of life in Harford County in the early 1800s. Thomas A. Hays bought the house in 1811 and it retains nearly all of Hays' furnishings. It was built in 1788 and is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Sunday. The house is at 324 Kenmore Ave., Bel Air. 410-838-1213.
Visitors can explore the life and home of Harvey Ladew at the Ladew Topiary Gardens at 3535 Jarrettsville Pike. The 250-acre estate contains 22 acres of 15 themed topiary gardens, Ladew's 1929 house and a 1.5-mile nature path. The Ladew Cafe is also on the premises. 410-557-9570.
Liriodendron, at 502 W. Gordon St., Bel Air, was the summer home of Dr. Howard Kelly of Johns Hopkins Medical School. In addition to holding conferences and weddings, the mansion houses exhibits and a permanent collection. Works of professional and amateur artists are on display, and a new Native American exhibit is to be added to the permanent collection. 410-838-3942 or 410-879-4424.
The Ripken Museum gives visitors the opportunity to experience what it's like to be part of Aberdeen's most famous family: the Ripkens. Baseball memorabilia from the careers of Cal Sr., Cal Jr. and Bill are on display in the building, which used to be the Aberdeen City Hall. The museum is at 3 W. Bel Air Ave. 410-273-2525.
The Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace at the Lockhouse is in the original 1840 locktender's house at the southern terminal of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal. The museum is devoted to the people of Havre de Grace and the history of the canal. It is open on weekends May through October at Erie and Conesto streets. 410-939-5780.
The U.S. Army Ordinance Museum displays an impressive collection of ammunition, artillery and military artifacts including vehicles from World War I to Operation Desert Storm. The museum is on a military base, so it is best to call to verify access. It is at Maryland and Aberdeen boulevards on Aberdeen Proving Ground. 410-278-3602.