Maryland Road Trip: Exploring Charles County

02/24/2022
By Preservation Maryland

Diane and Jeff’s ninth Maryland county on their twenty-three counties and Baltimore City exploration was Charles County. They continue to explore through the lens of staying outdoors and finding landscape preservation through trails, conservancies, preserves, and old railroad lines converted into trails.

Frome Diane and Jeff’s Travelogue

With COVID-19 still restricting what we can do safely, we still find ways to buy, eat and drink local where we can. In our prior visit we focused on a lot of the historic sites and pretty much bisected the county from north to south. This time, we tried not to pack too much in our day to slow down and enjoy what we discovered.

Detour to Piscataway Park then Indian Head

Our first stop was to be Indian Head, but Jeff said we should look for the park that is directly across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon.  Piscataway Park is at the northwest corner of the county and named after Piscataway Creek, itself named for a Native American tribe.It includes the area of Moyaone, a Native American Piscataway village last occupied in 1623. The property was donated to the National Park Service in the 1960s.”  Not only did it preserve the parkland, but it protects the historic view from Mount Vernon as it was in George Washington’s day.  We walked along one of the paths and could easily see Mount Vernon across the river.  There were heritage Hog Island sheep and American Milking Devon cows on the farmland and flocks of Canadian geese coming into the fields along the Atlantic Flyway.  What a hidden treasure, even on a cold and frozen day! Editor’s Note: Preservation Maryland’s Heritage Fund, in partnership with the Maryland Historical Trust, recently helped fund the costs associated with the nomination of Moyaone Reserve to the National Register of Historic Places.

On to Indian Head to walk the Indian Head rail trail.  The rail line was originally built in 1918 as a supply route for the Indian Head Powder Factory located at the U.S. naval base at the western end of town. The rail line was converted to a 13-mile biking and walking trail in 2006.  We had to walk carefully on some parts of the trail as there was some snow and ice from a recent winter storm.  We warmed up a bit at Clarity Coffee House with some hot coffee and their signature cheddar bacon biscuits.

Wild Goose Chase to Find the Great Blue Heron Sanctuary and Johnstown Tobacco Barn #2

Despite what I think is decent research ahead of time, sometimes we just can’t find or miss something that we had hoped to see.  We could not find an address for the Great Blue Heron Sanctuary on Nanjemoy Creek.  Apparently, according to one of the guidebooks I had read that over 2,500 Great Blue Herons return around Valentine’s Day every year on their way back north.   Oh well, maybe next time.  Then we went looking for one of the tobacco barns built in 1820, that took us well off a beaten path and private road.  Even with google maps telling us that “we had arrived,” we were nowhere.   At least the drive was pretty on our wild goose chase!

La Plata

La Plata is the county seat, with the original courthouse moving from Port Tobacco in 1895.  There is a nice self-guided walking tour of the town and some of its historic buildings.  We cheated and did a driving tour instead.  However, not before we had a delicious lunch at The Charles, a restaurant that sources much of its produce from their own farm and other local purveyors.  We also checked out the adjacent Market at Charles to see what goodie we could find to bring home with us.

Amish Country and Charlotte Hall

As there is a large Amish community bordering Charles and St. Mary’s county, we went looking for some of the shops.  We wandered the back roads and saw many signs advertising everything from harnesses, to eggs, to furniture.  Instead of stopping we just enjoyed the drive. We saw several buggies along the road and houses with the wash hung neatly across the porches to dry on a cold Saturday afternoon.   Our final stop was the outdoor market in Charlotte Hall, typically teaming with produce, but very sparse in the winter.

We enjoy our day trips and have come to expect the unexpected and serendipity of the day. We love remembering what we saw on our prior trip around the county.  We can now add a few more sites to add to our memory of this wonderful county!

FOLLOW ALONG FOR MORE MARYLAND ROAD TRIP ADVENTURES

READ THE ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY ROAD TRIP BLOG HERE

READ THE FREDERICK COUNTY ROAD TRIP BLOG HERE

READ THE CECIL COUNTY ROAD TRIP BLOG HERE

READ THE ALLEGANY COUNTY ROAD TRIP BLOG HERE

READ THE St. Mary’s COUNTY ROAD TRIP BLOG HERE

READ THE Caroline COUNTY ROAD TRIP BLOG HERE

Preservation Maryland

Preservation Maryland is Maryland’s first and largest organization dedicated to preserving the state’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, and archaeological sites.

Meet Our Team
Our Story Donate Press & Media Resources Contact Us Site by Younts Design Inc. © Preservation Maryland, 2022.