Welcome back to Diane and Jeff Caslow’s road trip chronicles. Now on their fourteenth county, Diane and Jeff again visited Harford County, continuing to create itineraries that highlight history and landscape preservation and experiencing things that they did not on their first go round the state.

Take it away, Diane!

Olney Farm

For our first stop, we took a page out of Jeff’s own history. He took horseback riding lessons at Olney Farm when he was a kid and even won a few ribbons to show for it. There were horses in the fields, including a trio of Shetland ponies. We ran into one of the employees who gave us the history of the farm. It also gave Jeff an opportunity to reminisce about the time he spent there. The main house, dating to 1810, is unique with “architectural features added from demolished buildings in Baltimore and Philadelphia (Isaac Van Bibber house paneling in Fells Point-1815, William Small’s Baltimore Athenaeum marble Ionic portico-1830, and a Pierre L’Enfant marble bas-relief designed for Robert Morris’s house in Philadelphia- 1795). The 1914 Union Chapel School was moved onto the property in 1980 and re-outfitted as St. Alban’s Anglican Church.”

Bel Air

The Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad, known as the Ma & Pa, connected Baltimore and York, Pennsylvania, over a 77-mile route. The Harford County section was nicknamed “The Milky Way” because of how much milk it carried on its early morning run, besides passengers and other freight.  It is now one of the converted rails to trails with work in progress to eventually connect the entire 8-mile trail from Forrest Hill to Bel Air.  It was a fun walk in the woods along the rail bed.  Thanks to the Department of Parks and Recreation that had posted a set of Activity Walk signs to encourage walkers to do fun exercises along the trail.

The Farmer’s Market was hopping on a Saturday morning.  We grabbed coffee and the makings of a picnic lunch for later.  I noticed that McAllen’s Toffee was at the market.  The dapperly dressed man behind the toffee was the owner, Bill McAllen.  Sparked by our conversation about Preservation Maryland, he popped open his trunk and gave me a book he had written (and photographed) with Sarah Achenbach, “Spirit of Place/Baltimore’s Favorite Spaces.”  You never know what you are going to find when you start asking people to tell their own story!   And of course, we bought the “kid size” bag of toffee to munch as a reading companion.  Then a side trip to visit Saint Ignatius Church.  Established in 1792, it is the oldest surviving church in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Church graveyards are unique places of history, with their own kind of storytelling of the people who lived in the area.

Ladew Gardens

Ladew Gardens has been named “One of the Top 5 Gardens in North America” and no wonder, with 22 acres of garden “rooms” (Rose, White, Yellow, Sculpture, and Iris Gardens), over 100 topiary forms, a Nature Walk and the Butterfly House. The gardens make you slow down and just linger a bit longer than you might have expected.  We followed the map through the gardens, joined one of the groups for the Butterfly House, and nearly had the Nature Walk to ourselves.  The docents in the Butterfly House gave us an extensive and interesting education on butterflies and each stage of their life cycle.  Of course, I finished in the gift shop to show my support of the gardens while Jeff, and his extensive history knowledge, was chatting up one of the tour guides.

Rocks State Park

We followed the uphill trail to the King and Queen’s Seat section of the park.  “There was a widely held belief that the King and Queen’s Seat rock formation was used by Native Americans for ceremonial purposes.  A recent archaeological investigation has not found any evidence.  It has been a tourist attraction since the 19th century and was served by the MA and PA Railroad at milepost 35.3 until 1958.  It opened as a state park in 1953.”  A steep climb up through a forested landscape took us to the King and Queen’s seat.  We had our picnic lunch on the rocks and watched hikers scramble across the rocks.  We climbed out and stood for a picture on the outcropping overlooking Deer Creek (not recommended for those with a fear of heights).

A Winery Break, Susquehanna State Park and Havre de Grace

From Rocks State Park, we headed east across the county to Fiore Winery. It provided a nice break and some lovely afternoon wine tasting on the deck overlooking the vineyard.  We chatted with one of the owners and bought some wine to enjoy later.

Our intent was to walk the trail that ran along the Susquehanna River, and we found much more in the Rock Run Historical Area.  The Rock Run Grist Mill was erected in 1794.  “The replica 24,000-ton water wheel only takes two pounds of force to turn it to grind grain.” After it was restored in the 1960’s the wheel was griding grain once again for visitors to purchase. A section of the Susquehanna and Tidewater canal, built in 1836, runs between the mill and the river and connected Havre de Grace into York County, Pennsylvania.  We discovered a potential future rail to trail as we walked a “non-maintained” section of the trail along the river where you can still see the abandoned railroad tracks. The river itself flows over 400 miles from New York to Maryland and is the largest tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

Our final stop was Havre de Grace, at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of Chesapeake Bay. Incorporated in 1785, it is named after Le Havre, France, and translate as “Harbor of Grace.”  It is a small town that continues to adapt and reuse its buildings along main street, breathing new life into them.  The last time we were here we followed the Lafayette Trail through town. This time we just checked out some of the newer shops and places to eat since we were there last. We finished the day at a wonderful coffee shop, Concord Point Coffee.

Another county checked off our Maryland list. We continue to try to find places to explore, things to do and where to eat that many people could enjoy. We try to figure out what we can do in one day without packing too much in.  It sometimes makes for a long day, but worth the adventure!

Read more about Diane and Jeff’s past travels!











St. Mary’s


Anne Arundel