Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tilghman and Wye

Last day of the festival. Many people already started packing up late yesterday. A bright, sunny morning found several of the boats sailing around the harbor. Got a picture of one of them.

We walked around the area and out on the pier to watch the activity. Got into a long conversation with a man in an open sailboat flying a Swedish flag. Then went to the rest of the museum and into the gift shop. There we found a copy of Beautiful Swimmers which we had been looking for. A new book to read together in the evening.

About noon we packed up and headed to nearby Tilghman Island. According to our Swedish guy, the drawbridge to the island is the busiest one north of Florida. The town of Tilghman is a typical Eastern Shore waterfront village. We drove through and down to Blackwalnut Point at the southern tip of the island. We parked in a big lot and walked down a gravel road to the end of the island, where there is an expensive bed and breakfast. Along the way we spotted a hawk flying, but we couldn't see it well enough to identify except it wasn't a broadwing. Another bird came up behind it and we thought it might be a pair. Then the second bird hit the first one and when it turned to pursue it we saw the white head and tail --- an eagle. Off they went with the eagle in hot pursuit. All the way down to the end and back (perhaps a half mile or so each way) we saw Monarch butterflies. One came by every couple of minutes. We were glad to see them because they have been kind of rare around home

After a pleasant lunch, sitting in the Roadtrek watching the traffic on the Bay, we headed for Wye. Our destination was the smallest state park in the country, 29 acres. It is a park to protect the largest and oldest white oak in the country, the Wye Oak. It was basically a one-tree state forest. Unfortunately, the 465-year old tree blew down in a storm in June 2002. Part of the trunk is on display in a gazebo, and you can see where it stood by a circle of bits left in the ground. In the middle is a sapling that was planted, called a "clone" of the original tree. I don't know how you clone a tree, but the young one seems to be doing well.

The park also contains a small, 1 1/2 story brick building that purports to be the second oldest school building in Talbot County. It wasn't open.

Our next stop was a short distance up the road. It was the Wye Mill. This claims to be the oldest, continuously-operated grist mill in the country. It has been in operation since 1682. In the 18th century a local man invented a system to get more power out of the low (8-foot) drop of water available. He installed it in this mill (and others). It has U.S. patent number 3, which was signed by the head of the patent office, Thomas Jefferson.


The system is very complicated, but it makes for a relatively automated process. The whole operation can be done by one man (instead of the dozen or so formerly required). It still grinds flour and you can buy some right there. In fact, a couple before us did just that.

Like some other operations, the mill had power take-offs that allowed it to run a sawmill and the bellows for a blacksmith shop. Thus the owner was supplying the community with the tree most needed services and consequently became quite rich. Now the mill is a non-profit always short of money. How times change.

By now it was late in the day and we found a state park campground nearby that had electricity. Besides running the battery very low with two days of dry camping, we wanted to be able to run a little electric space heater since the nights are getting quite chilly.

Jean is looking at maps and brochures as I type this, so I'll be interested to find what we will be doing tomorrow. Whatever it is, I'll post it.

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