This April, our Board Vice President, Diane Caslow and crew explored the Horse and Hounds Scenic Byway through Baltimore County. One of eighteen designated Maryland Scenic Byways, the route took the crew to horse races and historic sites. Follow along in the travelogue below:



Our first stop was a tour at Sagamore Farm. You can sign up for the tours, and also follow all of the horses, by joining the Sagamore Racing Three Diamond Club. Kevin Plank, CEO and Chairman of the Baltimore-based Under Armour company, bought the farm in 2007 and has been busy restoring it.

The farm was originally owned by Margaret Emerson Vanderbilt who gave it to her son Alfred G. Vanderbilt II for his twenty-first birthday. At the tour, there were about 70 of us eager to see the horses do a morning breeze around the track. The track is mixed with recycled Under Armour sneaker sole material to perhaps give it some extra lift! We toured the barns and the horse graveyard where Native Dancer is buried.

The volunteer historians and farm staff are so knowledgeable and enthusiastic, we were hard-pressed to leave.


We stopped at John Brown Store, once known as the Shawn Store, said to have been built by the Worthington family, who owned most of the land surrounding it, as a saloon, inn and general store. It has been reborn as a butchery, also featuring Maryland-made treats, and the filing station now houses a small coffee shop. We fueled up and picked up our trail, making a stop at St. Johns’ Episcopal Church, built in 1869, famous for a traditional blessing of the hounds on Thanksgiving morning.


We continue on to Glyndon, once a Victorian summer community, with some beautiful examples of Victorian architecture. And as Jeff, my husband and our driver, always seems to find the road a little less traveled and we wander down an unassuming road that leads us to the stone gates of Emory Grove, built in 1868 as a hotel for tourists and a summer Christian camp. We stop for lunch at the Manor Tavern and note how fitting for horse country that it began its life as a stable in the 1700’s.


We finish up at Ladew Gardens, with a tour of the manor house and a peak at the gardens. One of the many topiary sculptures is a horse rider giving chase to a fox that he will clearly never catch. We think we wandered out of Baltimore County and into Harford County, stopping to see Jerusalem Mill Village. Our last stop on the byway was supposed to be Hampton Mansion, but the sun was setting on us…


We decided to finish up Baltimore County another day, and added some other parts of the county for fun!


We checked out the historic homes in Catonsville, built as a summer community. We went in search of the second oldest shopping center in Maryland and discovered some interesting facts from the website: Unexpected Dundalk. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. supervised the planning and design of several towns, including Dundalk, and “followed then-popular Garden City planning principles, using curvilinear streets, mixed housing densities, and a planned commercial and civic center. Also typical of the Garden City ideal, open space was incorporated into the plan with park areas reserved adjacent to the shopping district and school.


Hampton Mansion, now Hampton National Historic Site, in Towson, was one of the largest homes in the United States when it was built in 1790. It is considered to be one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the United States. I seem to gravitate to the dining room in the old house tours, imaging some of the meals and parties. Of note, the Maryland Hunt Cup, one of the steeplechase races in Maryland was held on the grounds early in the history of the race.

Hampton Mansion

It is interesting to think about preservation from a scenic byway standpoint and this area known in Baltimore County as “Hunt Country.” Preservation comes in many forms, an important house, a business, an event or a landscape, preserved, used and renewed and re-imagined for future generations. Guess that is the point of a scenic byway!

Next Month is Allegheney County – Riding the Rails and Other Modes of Transportation