We arrived in Washington DC yesterday evening.
Turns out our friends’ mother grew up in Baltimore and lives nearby. She is staying with our friends, looking after their house and a dog called ‘Woodie’ (after Woodrow Wilson) and is 76. She immediately said she would drive me to Baltimore to the B&O and show me a bit of Baltimore. Wow! She really is an amazing lady. US roads are very, very busy around Washington (we are SW of the city) and she just took it all in her stride. We got there and had a great time at the museum – we took a train ride on the first mile of line that was laid for the first ever proper railroad in the States. I bought a little book on the impact of the B&O and here are the opening lines:
‘Great Britain’s Stockton & Darlington Railway, the world’s first public railroad, had been open for less than a year when an American from Baltimore came calling. Evan Thomas had been touring England and was there mostly out of curiosity. His brother, a Baltimore banker, was worrying about a commercial crisis his city was facing and had heard about this new iron road on which cumbersome steam locomotives hauled trains of coal. Thomas sailed home and gave a noncommittal but enthusiastic report – and suddenly the seed of the railroad revolution in America was planted and instantly began growing.
Within six months the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad had been created, on paper at least.’
I had a great conversation with one of the employees and dropped in the Friends’ brochure and my business card and am looking forward to meeting the new Executive Director on Tuesday or Wednesday.
My contact there, Courtney Wilson, the former Executive Director of the museum has left, so I am going back to the beginning to re-establish contact there.
We had a great lunch and Betty took me to see where the speaker of the House, Nancy Pellosi grew up – I’m fascinated by US politics as I used to teach the subject.
One great idea we came up with is twinning Stockton (or Shildon or Darlington) with Baltimore. They have a lot more in common than I thought – railways and the steel industry and serious challenges adjusting to the decline of the old industries.