Route 30 villages offer life in the slow lane

Villages: Hanover Pike area residents enjoy small-town life, letting urban cares pass them by.


September 26, 2004|By Nancy Jones Bonbrest | Nancy Jones Bonbrest,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Traveling along the Route 30 corridor between Hampstead and Reisterstown, many people fail to notice the tiny villages that dot the road.

Some sit along Hanover Pike, others are tucked just out of sight from passers-by. Regardless, the villages of Woodensburg, Boring, Arcadia and Fowblesburg have remained somewhat untouched by the growing number of commuters and tractor-trailers that seem to inhabit the busy thoroughfare.

Beyond Hanover Pike, bucolic roads lead to large farms and historic homes mixed in with newer homes on large lots. Small-town institutions and gathering spots like the volunteer fire departments, churches, local businesses and post offices define the areas.

Many nights and weekends, these spots draw local residents and out-of-towners to events like demolition derbies, bingo, roller skating, bluegrass festivals and a vintage steam engine show.

"I think people live here and move here because the area has kept its rural flavor as much as it can," said Bob Walker, president of the Hanover Road Association. "We still have open fields, a country feel, and the turnpike hasn't gotten completely commercialized."

Walker, who lives between Boring and Fowblesburg, moved back to the area about 10 years ago after he had a chance to purchase his parents' house to raise his own family in. He said he was not alone, that many people who grew up in the area still live there.

The Hanover Pike area lies outside the urban-rural demarcation line, which means no public water or sewer lines. This, combined with low-density zoning, has helped to keep development at a controlled pace.

Walker said a lot of in-fill residential development has occurred over the years, with more being planned. Recently, development pressure has come from institutional uses such as schools and churches that can make use of large, unapproved parcels of land.

"We don't necessarily want to stop them. We just want them to be in character for the area," Walker said.

Nettie Bohn, who owns Elmo's, a breakfast diner and institution in Fowblesburg, said the diner keeps busy along the corridor.

"We've never advertised. It's all by word of mouth," Bohn said. "Our kitchen is open so everyone can see what we do. People are just impressed with what it takes to get a meal off and have everything come off at the same time."

Bohn, 58, said she started working at Elmo's 45 years ago when her father owned it.

"We had a glider and three chairs, and we would wait until people stopped. Then we would take turns waiting on them," she said. "People didn't eat out then. Now today, nobody eats at home."

Fowblesburg is perhaps the most visible of the small villages, but it can still be easily missed. Elmo's, Fowblesburg Motors, High's Dairy Store and Farmers and Merchants Bank - at the crossroads of Hanover Pike and Emory Road - define the intersection.

Located about five miles north of Reisterstown, Fowblesburg was a place for the tollgate along the turnpike. The tollgate was later moved to Woodensburg, a community at Hanover Pike and Old Hanover Road.

Upperco encompasses most of the Hanover Pike area. Named for Thomas Upperco's general store, a post office was established there in 1841. The town's name was changed to Arcadia in 1879.

Today both names can be heard, with the Upperco Post Office in the center of Arcadia on Arcadia Avenue. It sits in the original general store building across the street from the Arcadia Volunteer Fire Company. Residents use both names when describing where they live, said Upperco resident Grace Carnell, who also serves as the postmaster for the Upperco Post Office.

"I like that the area is still so rural. We've had a little bit of growth, but not too much," Carnell said. "We live on about 5 acres, and it is still private. We have good neighbors, but they are not on top of you."

Arcadia is mostly a sleepy town, but it is known for its bluegrass festivals; its annual Maryland Steam Historical Society show of vintage steam engines; and its demolition derbies. Spring Meadow Farms, with its large selection of fruit, vegetables and flowers, is a local favorite. The establishment also offers an ice cream shop, seasonal events such as fall hayrides and children's farm zoo.

The demolition derbies are held five times throughout the year. The final one for the year will be Oct. 2. The demolition derby held in July attracted nearly 2,500 people.

"The fire company is right in the center of town and probably is the most active thing happening in town," said Scott Boose, the chief of the Arcadia Volunteer Fire Company. "The derbies have gotten to be a really big thing here lately."

Boose, whose grandfather served as fire chief for 20 years and whose father served in various positions with the fire company, says the area has retained its small-town feel. The fire company serves a population of about 4,500 and maintains a 98 percent or better response rate, meaning the company is on the road within three minutes of getting a call.

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