Friday, June 28, 2013

National Guard Encampments at Brandywine Springs


Richard R. Kenney

Perhaps no place in Mill Creek Hundred has as rich and diverse of a history as Brandywine Springs. Normally when we think of these 60-some acres at Faulkland Road and Newport Gap Pike we think of its more than two centuries worth of use as a public site for rest, relaxation, and entertainment. The site has, in turn, hosted a colonial-era tavern/inn, a resort hotel, an amusement park, and a public state/county park. Lesser known are some darker stories, including several deaths and at least one tragic murder. But just as interesting and noteworthy as these chapters are the park's military connections, including one Victorian Era story in particular. (Hat tip to Terry Zitzelberger for making me aware of it)

Throughout its history, MCH has had occasional brushes with the military, whether it be Robert Kirkwood, the events of early September 1777, or the more recent presence in or near the hundred of several facilities used by the armed forces, reserves, or National Guard. It happens to be this last group that takes center stage in this story, which takes place at Brandywine Springs.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Different Direction on Smith's Corner

If you'll recall (or even if you won't), a while back there was a post that included a 1921 picture of a bridge that was captioned as being "near Smith's Corner". Since the picture looked to me to be almost certainly taken on Old Capitol Trail just west of Newport Gap Pike, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out just what and where Smith's Corner was.

At the time, my working assumption was that Smith's Corner was the Newport Gap Pike-Old Capitol Trail intersection that would have been just behind the photographer of the 1921 shot. I and several others then went about trying to figure out why it was called Smith's Corner, a name no one seems to have been familiar with. I spent my effort attempting to find someone named Smith who ever lived at or near the crossroads there. Seemed like the logical answer at the time. A follow-up post even put forth one possible theory for the name.