WV & PA: Crabs, Battlefields and Inns

Crabs, Battlefields, and Inns

Day six was a full and long day, and day seven would be more of the same.  We would start the day in West Virginia and end our time in Gettysburg, PA.  On the road from Morgantown to Gettysburg, we saw lots of abandoned places, cool cemeteries, and had lunch in Maryland with an old friend of Sharon’s.

Cruising along the back roads in WV, and heading towards lunch in Hagerstown, MD, we came across two equally amazing abandoned structures.  Sharon and I saw them set back and up a somewhat paved road.  We knew we needed to stop and take pictures.  We parked the car and hiked up the road towards the large house and small cabin-like building sitting next to it.  As we got to the top of the road, we noticed they were sitting along a two-lane road.  I was drawn to the large two-story house because it was the type of house I always wanted to live in.  It looked as if it had been empty for many years.  To me, it was a beautiful piece of art just asking to be photographed.  The smaller cabin structure was interesting as well.  We choice that building to get a reading on for our Abandoned Places: Abandoned Memories (Appalachian Edition) book.

I like how Sharon and I come across fascinating places by chance.  While taking photos of deserted house along the highway, Sharon pointed at the street across the way.  She said that we need to drive down there because she had a feeling there was something we had to see.  We drove a short distance, curved up a hill, and there it was a beautiful old church with an amazing cemetery on its grounds.  We got several gorgeous pictures of that place.

After having urban exploring success, we next found ourselves in Hagerstown, MD to meet up with an old friend of Sharon’s, Rick.  We met at a restaurant called Schulas, which is known for their crab cakes.  We were definitely craving those and they delivered.  The crab cakes were mouth-watery delicious.  After saying goodbye to Rick, it was on to Gettysburg.

I was so happy that Sharon and I fit in a trip to Gettysburg when making plans to visit WV.  We decided that flying out from Pittsburg would work great for us thus giving us that chance to visit Gettysburg.  The only problem was we didn’t give ourselves enough time in this momentous town.  This was my first visit, and I read lots of history about this place.  I saw documentaries on the battles and ghosts that haunt the various places around town.  I was eager to tour the town and see all the historic sites.

Sharon booked us a room at the notable Federal Point Inn, which was a short distance from downtown Gettysburg.  The inn was once the Meade School and built in 1895.  Its structure was created and constructed in the “Richardson Romanesque” fashion, very elegant and chic.  When the school was dedicated in 1897, the president of the local school board said the school would display “high character” and “give the children of Gettysburg all the advantages that other towns enjoy”.  It was the areas only high school and in September of 1909, it was converted into an elementary school.  Today, the owner’s lovingly kept the architectural veracity of the immense building intact.
By the time we arrived at the inn it was afternoon.  We checked in and then enjoyed the complimentary tea and scones.  Our room not only had the double queen beds we requested, but it came with an extra sitting room space.  That area was where the entrance to the school once stood.  The doors were still there, which was apparent, but sealed shut.  Sharon felt a presence of a man in that room, but he wasn’t anyone for us to fear.  After relaxing for a bit, we went to town to eat dinner and see the sites.

For our dining pleasure, Sharon and I choose the Farnsworth House’s Sweney’s Tavern.  We enjoyed one of their tasty sandwiches and had a brew or two while waiting for our friend to meet us there.  Along the walls of the tavern are glass displays with props from the movie, Gettysburg.  The attic of the building is where a private compilation of Civil War artifacts can be found.

The initial edifice was constructed in 1810 out of wood, with a brick building erected afterwards in 1833.  It was called the Farnsworth House after Brigadier General Elon John Farnsworth.  Farnsworth guided a group of soldiers to attack after Pickett’s charge was unsuccessful.  Unfortunately he and 65 of his men were killed.  During the three-day battle, Confederate sharpshooters hid amongst the walls of the house and in the attic.  It was alleged that one of them hit Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade with a bullet, ending her life.  She was only 20 years old and the only civilian killed while that battle was being fought.

Today, the Farnsworth House is a bed & breakfast with rooms decorated with a Victorian flair.  The Meade and Lee dining rooms décor and servers had that Pennsylvania Dutch look and feel to them.  And there is also Sweney’s Tavern where the ambiance is that of the Civil War era.

After our friend showed up, it was dark outside, and we headed out to the battlefields.  To say the battlefields at Gettysburg are creepy at night is an understatement.  We had heard that nighttime on the battlefields was eerie and some have reported hearing battle noises coming from the grassy combat zones.

I am not going to give you a history lesson on the Battle of Gettysburg because there are websites with lots of detailed information on the skirmish.  I will say that it was fought on July 1-3 in 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg.  The encounter was between the Union and Confederate military services during the American Civil War.  The area reported the most fatalities over all other battles connected with the Civil War.

By the time we got to the battlefields, we only had just over an hour to be in the park.  If you are caught there after hours, the security guards will chase you off the grounds.  We first stopped near a memorial where cannons and other relics lined the road.  The memorial was immense and looked creepy at night.  The pitch dark fields gave off an unnerving feeling where you can almost hear the faint sounds of cannons, muskets, and cries of agony resonating all around you.  We decided to look for Devils Den where many ghost sightings have been reported.  It was my day to drive so I got the arduous task of driving the winding roads in the forests behind the fields. At one point, Sharon asked me to stop the car and she got out.  She said it felt like three separate spirits just walked through her.  She didn't see anything so we pushed on looking for Devils Den.  It was so dark and our friend had troubles remembering which road would take us there.  He asked me to pull over just passed a Stop Sign so he could get his bearings.   Both he and Sharon urged us to get in the car and leave that area.  They both felt something evil was watching us and approaching our vehicle.  We got in the car and took off towards the exit.  Our time had run out looking for this historic site.

Being on the battlefields and creepy dark forests at night near the area where all the conflict and deaths occurred was an amazing feeling.  Driving on the dark twisty roads wasn't much fun, but the experience of being there was.  The next time we are in Gettysburg, we will take a day trip to the fields and to finally see Devils Den.

After getting back to our hotel room, we were exhausted from a very busy night.  As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out.  Apparently, I missed out on all the excitement that Sharon had to endure throughout the night.  She woke up at least three times during the night, cold and just covered by a sheet.  She found her blankets balled-up at the end of her bed, then on top of her luggage, and the third time, she saw them in the sitting room.  It appears that our unseen roommate was messing with her.  I am glad I slept through it all.  Gettysburg was a great place to visit, but next time I will stay longer.


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