Sunday, May 31, 2009


Yesterday Ranger Maura made me a cake for my birthday, totally homemade.

It was white cake with chocolate frosting (my favorite) and I had the first piece and the last piece.

Everyone gave me birthday wishes, presents, and good cheer.

I work with dee-lightful people.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day in Sharpsburg

American Main Street

The long tradition continues unbroken now for (I think) the 142nd year, the Memorial Day observance in Sharpsburg Maryland. Demonstrating again, that there is no better place to be on this particular holiday than this little town in the Antietam Creek Valley.

The day began, as always, on the town square with a laying of wreaths at the war memorial just in front of the library.

Representing the Park was my friend, Park Ranger (and West Virginia Air National Guard lt. colonel) Keith Snyder. 

Veterans and active duty service members were in great numbers.

As were various members of royalty.

As usual, the Rohersville Band sounded first-rate as they serenaded the celebrants following the wreath laying ceremony.

As the parade formed up more royalty gathered...

along with costumed living history folks representing the various wars of American history.  Here, Skip in in the uniform of a U.S. infantryman of the Mexican War.

Everything was glittery in the afternoon sunshine.

I watched the Boonsboro High School marching band form up from my perch on...

the parks entry, our "float".  We had a cannon!

Susann, a member of our volunteer artillery detachment participated...

as did park staffer and WWII veteran Percy King.

Under way this was the scene behind us as we drove down Main Street from our position near the head of the parade.

Keith shouts to familiar faces in the crowd...

as they enthusiastically waved back at us.

As we approached the reviewing stand in the center of town the applause and good-natured shouts from the crowd grew more abundant.

When a National Park has a good relationship with its community, it looks like this...

and this...

and this...

and this.

Through the shouts and the music and the clamour, Junior kept a steady hand at the wheel as he got us from our starting point at the Elementary School to our destination at the National Cemetery.

Where the newly-restored rostrum awaited the memorial ceremony.

Plan on being in attendance next year.  I think you'll be glad you did.

Remembering, just north of Sharpsburg,

Ranger Mannie

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chamberburg Seminar: In the Footsteps of Stonewall Jackson

In this famous painting, John Brown is still riding high from his star-turn in last year's Chambersburg Seminar, and appears somewhat miffed that the upcoming one will have the spotlight stolen by Stonewall Jackson.

Anyhoo, the upcoming Chambersburg seminar is focusing on Jackson's Valley Campaign, it should be a fantastic kickoff to the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.  Go here for complete details.

Seamless recovery eh?  Sorry for any confusion from the earlier incorrect post.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Remembering Memorial Day


Since moving to the Valley,  Memorial Day has become my favorite holiday.  There's something about the way the people of Sharpsburg have been celebrating this day for over 140 years that is incredibly meaningful and moving as well as welcoming and fun.

This is a small town celebration with an enormous amount of warmth and heart, in a very significant place.

Here's a little video I put together showing the fifth graders of Sharpsburg Elementary School doing what they've been doing for 21 years now.

Enjoy the video and tomorrow come to Sharpsburg and enjoy the day.
I'll be waving from the Park Service truck, the truck with the cannon.

Ranger Mannie

Monday, May 18, 2009

New video on Antietam Website

Cannoneers, Post!

Click here to see the artillery video I put together for  the Antietam National Battlefield website.

I hope you like it.

Ranger Mannie

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Poffenberger Farm update

Raising the Roof

Earlier posts (here) have looked at the Park's restoration efforts at the Poffenberger Farm on the very northern end of the Battlefield.  I stopped by on Friday after getting a heads-up from the head of the maintenance division that some big doings were afoot.  And how!

Now that much of the lowest level of the barn has been conserved and restored the crew is directing their attentions to the roof.

The deteriorated metal roofing material has been removed and now timbers are being assessed.  Eventually the whole roof has to be reseated upon the walls as it currently is slightly ajar, from generations of windstorms pushing at the structure.

This is a job for skilled technicians and heavy equipment.

In this shot you can see the lower level work that has already been completed.  The workmanship is absolutely superb!

While checking out the barn I heard the sound of power tools coming from in front of the house, causing me to think that perhaps the door might be instincts were correct!

At long last I was able to get a glimpse of the interior of the Joseph Poffenberger house.  And now, I'd like to share these images with you.

The front door from what I'd imagine was the parlor.  This opens onto the front porch which overlooks the nearby Hagerstown Pike. 

A peek into a lower level closet reveals the original log construction, still appearing quite square.

Why can't door latches still look (or work) this way?

From a side room, through an old pane of glass, looms the barn.

Although the fireplace has been long-ago walled over the surround remains.  The modern scaffolding clues us in to the fact that the maintenance and cultural resources folks are using the house as a protected staging area for this multi-year project.

Let's take a look upstairs to see what other glimpses of history can be gained.

Hmmmm.  I don't think these teenage mutant ninja-turtles are mid 19th century, but they are an indication of how recently the home was lived in.

The upstairs bedrooms are roomy and well fenestrated.

And look, a lovely upstairs porch just beyond the screen door,  just waiting for...


 What a delightful place to catch a shaded breeze, today as well as a century ago.  Some places, and moments, on the battlefield seem to transcend time.

Stairs continue to the attic...

noteworthy mostly for that slant-wise chimney.

Back down to the kitchen, which is a mix of 19th and 20th century domesticity (as well as construction materials).

The pantry has this very cool, very narrow window with a great view of the barn and yard.

From the kitchen I proceeded down to the cellar.

I crunched along the crushed gravel floor...
to the old cellar doors, illuminated from above.

I'll have to find out if anyone was sheltering down here during the battle.

The house and the barn are only part of the overall project,  as evidenced by numerous new fences installed along the historic fence lines.

This is the lane connecting the Poffenberger farm to the Hagerstown pike.

With the restored wagon shed in the background (details here), another historic outbuilding awaits its turn for conservation.

Stay tuned for further progress reports from the Poffenberger farm,

just north of Sharpsburg.

Ranger Mannie

Friday, May 15, 2009

Monocacy Blockhouse

Something for Monocacy fans here.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bridge Inspector

This morning I encountered this little swift sitting atop the new coping of Burnside Bridge.  he let me get within inches.

What a beautiful place.