05 September 2007

Ruins of an old house, maybe

It is good to go off the beaten paths every now and then. A couple of weeks ago during my lunch break, I was exploring an area that I had recently "discovered" not too far from where I work. I was on a narrow unpaved path, the "main artery" that crosses the wooded lot when I came to a fork going to the right and which I had ignored in the past. That day I decided to go that way.

fork in road

About 100 m later, I came to a sort of clearing in the woods where the ground was slightly elevated and surrounded by a narrow concrete border. There were chunks of concrete littering the ground.


The peculiar thing about these slabs of concrete was that they had pebbles embedded in them. While searching for snails during a later trip to the same spot, I discovered that the thin accumulation of leaf litter at the surface was hiding a thick layer of pebbles underneath, the kinds you would find at a beach or along a creek.


I suspect there was once a house here.

As the recent satellite picture from Google Earth shows, the general area is surrounded by residential streets to the north, industrial buildings to the south, railroad tracks to the east and a busy road to the west.

The yellow marker is the approximate location of the house ruin.

It is surprising that this parcel of land has escaped development so far. However, the trees are quite young; they may have been growing for only about 20 years or so. Furthermore, the outdated topographic map shows a Woodbury Street and an Oberlin Road that are not there anymore. You can still see the faint outlines of those streets on the Google Earth picture. The topo map doesn't show the area as being wooded (it would have been green). So it appears that this area didn't use to be as "wild" as it is now (I saw a deer there on another trip). However, the topo map doesn't show any houses despite the labelled streets.

Map from TopoZone.

And yes, I did find snail shells there but that's for another post.


Brenda said...

Small world...You're talking about my neighborhood. :-)

These ruins were most likely the site of temporary housing for WW II
vets who were employed at the nearby Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) plant. You can find more info on ERCO here: http://www.airfields-freeman.com/MD/Airfields_MD_PG_C.html and more on the history of the property (known as the Cafritz property) here: http://www.cafritzpop.com/
It's possible that your workplace sits on what was once an airport runway.

There was another temporary housing neighborhood in the area that is now Lake Artemesia. I used to enjoy riding my bike there about 20 years ago, before the lake was built. The houses were long gone, but the streets were still there, the streetlights still came on at night, and rose bushes still thrived after all those years without anyone spraying them with noxious chemicals.

I once met, quite by chance, after a concert in Hagerstown, a man who had lived in one of these temporary houses. He told me they had been issued a cardboard refrigerator!

As to development, if you look on the Cafritz Property website, you'll see that big plans are in the works. I'm not a big fan of that myself...I love the woods around here.


It is a small world, Brenda.

Thanks for all that information. I'd better go back there & remove all the snails I can find before they are gone forever.

xoggoth said...

Interesting subject. Now I have just retired I want to find out a bit more about some of the remains in woods in my locality.

About twenty years back I found a well hidden deep in a huge patch of brambles. I thought it would be an excellent place to hide a body but unfortunately have forgotten where it was so have had to put my plans to be a serial killer on hold until I can find it again.