We ventured up to Sykesville yesterday, our first foray into Carroll County and the heart of Maryland’s Piedmont plateau, about 20 miles east of Frederick.
Train Station/Baldwin’s Station
It would hard to say what my favorite Historical Attraction has been, but I can say there is something special about mills and train stations. The train station in Sykesville has a lot going for it. For one thing, it is part of the southern gateway to the town of 4,400, and overlooks the Patapsco River.
Secondly, the town’s beginnings are tied to the railroad. In the early 1830s and in to the 1840s, James Sykes, an immigrant from Yorkshire, England, put up a gristmill, cotton factory, and a large hotel on the southern side of the Patapsco River, the opposite side of the town today. After his period of prosperity and success, Sykes sold his holdings to the Hugg family. Their timing was unlucky, as a flood swept away the town in 1868.
Designed by the prolific James Baldwin, whose stamp is all over Maryland, the station was built in 1883 in the Queen Anne style. The Sykesville stop was mile 21 on the Old Main Line, one of the oldest in the United States and once part of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. From 1830 to 1850, it was the only line running west from Baltimore. Service ended in 1949. Sykesville native Stewart Dearie opened up Baldwin’s Station restaurant in 1997, the showpiece of the town.
After our lunch there, we walked down to the river. Very peaceful and we chatted up two fishermen.
Many of the places we have visited have wonderful book stores, proving the indies can survive. One thing I like about them is that many times the owner greets you when you come inside. It’s also great when they have a local history section. A Likely Story Bookstore met both those needs. The bookseller said Laura Lipmann signs books there.
Our trip to Sykesville reminded us there are two basic types of road trips. Cities and towns with more than, say, 5,000 make up the first type. It’s great they have a lot to offer, but when you pull away, you feel disappointed that you didn’t get to see all the town had to offer.
The other type is the smaller towns. Not all are the same, but many have shown that all you need for a good time is one great café, one good restaurant, a few quirky mom and pops, and then some combination of museum/historic district and some sort of natural beauty.
Sykesville was quite enjoyable and demonstrated this to be true. We give them bonus points for having a walking tour with an annotated map at their website, something that, surprisingly, many towns do not have.
And that walk down to the river. Oh my…