Potomac Chapter Fun Day - April 8, 2017, Hagerstown MD area

Photos by Paul Johnson  

Participants in the long-scheduled Potomac Chapter Spring Fun Day awoke to nd a bright, breezy, cool, but ideal day for a tour of the beautiful backroads of rural western Maryland. Meeting at the Park ‘n Ride south of Frederick came off without a hitch. In fact, all participants but one beat the tour leaders to the meeting place and it was possible to start our tour a little earlier than planned. Four Studebakers, an Avanti and two Brand X cars hit the road enroute to an early lunch at Brunswick’s very eclectic restaurant, Beans in the Belfry. Studebakers included a ’50 Champion (Murray and Lynda Welsh), a ’56 Power Hawk (Steve and Mary Walter), a ‘62 Lark (Larry and Darlene Pugh), and a ’63 Lark (Terry and Shirley McDaniel), and while not exactly a Studebaker, a ’70 Avanti II (Steve White). Brand Xs included Bill and Maxine Morgan and the tour leaders, Paul and Karen Johnson (Paul and Karen started out in a Studebaker (a ’64 Avanti), but it wasn’t happy with something so it was turned around and returned home to switch cars.

The beautiful weather worked against plans to park in front of the restaurant and leisurely dine in a relaxed atmosphere. Many others apparently thought it was a good time to visit Beans in the Belfry with the result that there was virtually no parking close to the building. And the restaurant was short one worker. Howev- er, the table was reserved as planned and everyone got their ordered dishes with a little delay, but satisfaction overall. There was no time crunch to get to the next stop so the longer than planned dining time was no problem. The scattered parking caused a little delay in moving on, but again regrouping was no problem and the intrepid travelers moved right on.
A short stop was planned at the Gathland State Park at the top of South Mountain, but again many others had seen the beautiful day as a good opportunity to visit the Park and the planned parking lot was full. However, turning to the alternative parking lot proved to be a great move as that lot wasn’t crowded and that part of the Park was where all the information was. Steve and Mary found that what appeared to be an ordinary old house was in fact a very nicely executed museum with a young park expert there to give the group a ne presentation about the Park and its history. Some of the group stepped on the Appalachian Trail where it runs through the Park and now they can claim to have walked the Appalachian Trail. Ultimately nearly an hour was spent enjoying the Park (much to Bob Devore’s chagrin since he and Anne were planning to join the tour at a midway point).

Other than the tour leader making one wrong turn, the drive to the final destination was fine and the group learned about one-lane bridges. Upon turning in to the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum, the Devore’s beautiful Flamingo ’61 Hawk was in full view with a virtually empty lot. It was finally possible to get a photo of the Studebaker lineup.
The museum turned out to be a very pleasant surprise three 7,500 square foot buildings with truly excellent displays. Naturally the car people started with the third building which was labeled “Transportation”. It was far beyond expectations with the building full of totally restored cars and trucks, many which were originally built in nearby Hagerstown. Extremely rare cars included several Dagmars, built in Hagerstown by the Moller Organ Company and the only known Norwalk to still exist. The 1914 Norwalk Underslung was built in Martinsburg, WV and it is spectacular with a huge six-cylinder engine with 12 sparkplugs and, believe it or not, an electric push bu on gear shifter. Of course no one could miss seeing Potomac Chapter member Chester Bradfield’s stunning 1923 Studebaker touring car. And, no one could miss the original Studebaker Goat Wagon on display.
The transportation building had three very knowledgeable docents who were more than happy to answer questions. The second building full of vintage farm equipment was equally interesting to those who grew up on farms and the third building (actually Building One) had wonderful displays of early farm life again with very helpful and knowledgeable docents. This building had a gift shop as well. Unfortunately, this museum is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 PM to 4 PM, so it takes some planning to be able to see the downtown quality of these exhibits. On the other hand, however, the admission is free with donations appreciated, but not pushed.