Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Castle, Delaware

In the past twelve months, I have passed through three of the world's New Castles. The original in England, Australia (Newcastle) and now the old New Castle in Delaware.
The old Court House. The cupola is interesting in that it is the center of an arc 12 miles in diameter that forms the boundary between Delaware and Pennsylvania. Read the link for the story.

New Castle was the first important port on the Delaware River. The guide at the Court House mentioned that the river used to be a lot narrower. Here is the view down stream with some oil refinery on the New Jersey side off in the distance.

The view upstream to the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

On the left is Peter Stuyvesant who founded the settlement at New Castle and his companion is Earl De La Warr (Delaware). Apparently, De La Warr did not set foot in the land of the state that bears his name.
It's a very pretty little town with it's 'Green' leading to the old church.

The main street.

Some of the houses.

This is the floor of the Court House.

For a while the Court House was used for different purposes but it was restored.

I asked what this beam with a handle was and was told it was a beam with a handle. Logical, I suppose.

At one time, New Castle was quite busy since a ferry ran from the town to the Jersey side of the river. Some of the buildings had advertisements painted on their walls.

I liked the shape of this fence.

A train line used to run to New Castle. Not much remains.

A rumpty footpath.

More on the ferry. Click on the picture to read the story.

This was the alley. Note the advertisement on the left wall.

A mysterious alley.

The gardens of the George Read House.

The grand entrance to the house.

This is such a nice place to wander around. It's bigger than Chesapeake City and much older.

Interesting shape for a house.

A really rumpty foot path.

The other end of the 'Green'.

The old church. Some years ago we went on a night time tour of some of the historic houses and buildings at Christmas.

Now this is my idea of a good sign.

Naturally, the town is busy on summer weekends with lots of tourists. If you are in the area, New Castle is worth seeing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

B & O Museum - Baltimore

Ever since she was a small girl, Robin and I have enjoyed going to the local train museums at Strasburg and Baltimore. Since Strasburg was closed for the winter, we went to Baltimore to see the B & O Railroad Museum.
My father worked for Queensland Railways all his working career as a civil engineer (maintenance) and I grew up with a love of trains. A photo like the above really appeals to me.
The B & O symbol on a diesel engine.

Most of the museum is located in the old round house. In late 2009, my friend Geoff from Brisbane came and visited. One really cold windy day we came down to check out Baltimore and first on the agenda was this museum. 

The round house was badly damaged in a huge snow storm in 2003. Half of the roof collapsed and fell onto the engine exhibits below. A government grant has allowed the roof to be rebuilt and here is a case where the money was well spent. You can read about it here. They have really made progress in the last year since Geoff and I visited.

The blue wagon is a Conestoga wagon.

An interesting wagon used to check the loading gauge, or in plain English, make sure that that every engine and wagon will fit within the bounds of bridges, tunnels and platforms.

Driving a steam locomotive was not simple. It sort of reminds you of the flight deck of a plane.

View to the vast turntable in the middle of the round house.

Interesting lights in a carriage.

An Atlantic Camelback. The cab sits over the boiler with the driver separated from the fireman and was an unsafe design. This particular engine used to run from Atlantic City to Philadelphia.

Coat of arms on a carriage.

A real oddity, a Shay Engine which uses gears to drive the wheels.

An early electric engine.

A car that would ride on the rails, usually for inspection purposes. The back seat has enormous leg room.

A gorgeous red.

And green. If you ever go to York in England, be sure to visit the train museum there which has the most beautifully coloured engines.

Detail of a carriage. Many of the items have been restored but carriages seem to rate lower than engines and most are only partially restored.

I loved the little plate on the cow catcher where you could stand. No doubt it was quite dangerous.

An early carriage. Note the upstairs section.

This is a replica of their earliest engine.

This is where the engines escape from the round house.

The roof.

The turntable for turning the engines.

Outside the roundhouse there is a little station where the museum offers rides on a real train. It's ok but nowhere near as good as the ride at the Strasburg Museum.

Yes, it's 'no accident' that it is pink.

This machine was used to test the pulling power of the engine.

An old sink in the wagon with the power tester.

Robin was intrigued by the light fixtures, the fan and the drawers.

You typical caboose. It really was an intelligent design where the guard could easily look out of the top windows.

Another caboose in a fetching shade of green.

This was a streamlined steam engine, a Hudson, stored in the North Car shop part of the museum. A more detailed description of most of the engines and wagons is available here.

Restoration is a huge problem. Such lovely old carriages need care and attention.

An auger that feeds coal to one of the huge engines. The fire boxes were too big to be fired by a fireman.
This was an Allegheny, the heaviest steam locomotive ever built in the USA.

Just look at the length of this engine. It had two sets of driving wheels.

An old wagon in need of repair.

This sign belongs in Robin's room.
Finally, a C & O carriage.

So if you like trains, this museum is a must see. It took us about two hours to walk around. Robin and I then drove home but there are lots of other places and things to see in Baltimore. Ask Geoff. After the museum we walked all over downtown Baltimore in the cold biting wind. Scott had it easier in the Antarctic.