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Old 11-12-2010, 12:12 AM
 
Location: Macao
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Curious about Western Maryland...basically anything west of DC...

If you drive north into PA...do you feel like you are in PA? If so, in what ways? How would you differentiate the feel of the towns, the people, or whatever else? Or are they fairly indistinguable from each other in feel? Just the name changes, but town setups and feel and everything else, pretty much the same?

Likewise if you drive into Virginia (near the MD border)...or into West Virginia...
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:00 AM
 
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I feel more changes going east and west in western MD than going across north and south into PA and WV - Cumberland seems more like a little Pittsburgh than a little Baltimore, and there are some elements of similarity to the similarly positioned Altoona and Johnstown - but also important differences, possibly since the blue-collar economy vaporized in Cumberland earlier than in Altoona and Johnstown. It's difficult to compare Cumberland to similar WV cities due to the distance - and the nearest, Morgantown, being the university center.

Cumberland's economic region extends well into WV and a bit into PA (southern Bedford, southeast Somerset), but its lack of big-box shopping has pushed a lot of activity to Morgantown, Hagerstown, and Altoona.

Western Allegany and Garrett counties kinda have three elements going on - the Deep Creek Lake resort areas, tied in much more with central MD and NoVA; the rural countryside, not easily distinguished from the non-coal parts of Somerset County PA; and patch towns in Georges Creek etc., not greatly different from their neighbors in PA, but more recent infrastructure improvements are to a higher level than in PA or WV.

In some ways eastern Allegany County along the back roads seems poorer than neighboring areas in Bedford County PA or Mineral/Hampshire counties WV, tax burdens and now the withdrawal of schools from the area don't help, and the long-threatened large scale residential development hasn't happened yet.

As for Washington County, I see Hagerstown more similar to Chambersburg, Martinsburg, and Winchester than to Frederick. Both early settlement patterns and similar economics (as part of the Northeast Corridor fringe) to me drive this resemblance.

Getting to the US 15 corridor, I do feel a bit more difference crossing into or out of Frederick County vs. Adams County PA or Loudoun County VA. Development in Loudoun and to some extent Frederick have far outpaced Adams due to commutability to the core, and to the Gettysburg Battlefield occupying nearly all the land that in similar sized towns is developments and strip malls. The countryside in Loudoun to a first approximation is horse country, in Adams apple country, and kinda mixed up in Frederick.
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Old 11-12-2010, 10:41 PM
 
Location: Macao
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You have a lot to digest - great info! Thanks for that as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ki0eh View Post
The countryside in Loudoun to a first approximation is horse country, in Adams apple country, and kinda mixed up in Frederick.
This is interesting...I was getting the feeling that Loudoun and horses was a theme...first time I've heard someone say it was horse country. That makes sense.

Adams County and apples? Where is that?

I also have heard WINERIES and NOVA being tied together...where is that?

Does that imply there are many fruit farms somewhere in this MD/WV/VA/PA area?
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Old 11-13-2010, 05:28 AM
 
Location: 5 years in Southern Maryland, USA
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Apple orchards have always been common in the Shenandoah area. There is an applesauce factory in Winchester VA, and also one or two applesauce factories a few miles north of Gettysburg PA (Adams County).
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Old 11-13-2010, 06:30 AM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
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The area around Gettysburg revolves around fruit production, mostly apples. Also located nearby is Utz potato chips. I cross from MD to PA (originally from PA) fairly often, near Hancock in the west and Thurmont further east, and don't notice any different "feel", whatever that means. The areas are all fairly rural and some landowners/farmers holdings stretch across both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. PA State Police cars are white with gold and blue striping while MD's are a strange shade of green. I do notice that.
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Old 11-13-2010, 07:11 PM
 
Location: Cumberland
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The weird government structure of townships in Pennsylvania give it a different feel. You will pass miles of nothing, then a group of farms, a gas station and a couple of houses together. The infrastructure is also substandard compared to Maryland, especially the roads.

West Virginia is similar to Western Maryland, but the lack of zoning and infrastructure leads to some strange settlement patterns. It is nothing, nothing, church, strip club, school, nothing, gas station, strip club, house, strip club, church, farm, and so on.

Western Maryland (meaning Allegany and Garrett Counties) was well described by ki0eh. The eastern part of Allegany county is the most rural part of the state and has virtually no commerce or infrastructure. This is mostly because the state owns the vast majority of the land out there.

Cumberland is like mini-Pittsburgh, Frostburg is like mini-Morgantown. The coal towns are similar to what you find in the rest of Northern Appalachia. Small self-sufficient communtities were the miners owned their own homes, had small farms and gardens, and shopped on main streets. Each town is a small world unto itself. Not true "company towns" like you find is Southern WV and Kentucky where the company owned everything and povery prevailed.

Garrett County is mostly farms and small towns at crossroads. Deep Creek Lake is getting really built up and tourons outnumbers locals in that area, but get more than a 5 miles from the lake and the county looks much like it always has.

Washington and Frederick Counties are more like the other counties of central Maryland, and their neighbors north of the Mason Dixon than are like the real Western Maryland of Allegany and Garrett.
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Old 11-14-2010, 07:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by westsideboy View Post
The weird government structure of townships in Pennsylvania give it a different feel. You will pass miles of nothing, then a group of farms, a gas station and a couple of houses together. The infrastructure is also substandard compared to Maryland, especially the roads.
These factors are especially noticeable crossing from Baltimore County to York County - in BC it seems you can pass commercial for miles, apartment complexes for miles, McMansions for miles, then farmland for miles - then you get to, say, Shrewsbury where once you go for miles, you're in New Freedom so the zoning districts have to be smaller because the local government entities are smaller. (PA can have multi-municipal zoning districts, but few dare to try such an exercise in Big Government.)

Everywhere along the Mason-Dixon line roads get narrower and twistier and more potholed in the PA side. There used to be one exception, Pleasant Valley Rd past Rocky Gap SP was anything but until the PA line, but apparently someone realized there was a reputation to uphold so even that back road in eastern Allegany Co. got a multi-million dollar makeover even with curbs.
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Old 11-14-2010, 07:25 PM
 
Location: Cumberland
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Wow, Ki0eh you really know your Eastern Allegany County. I used to live on Pleasant Valley Rd. when it was unmarked, unshouldered, and ungulated up and down like a rollercoaster. I believe the upgrade came about as part of the gold course improvements in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

I hear from the old-timers that the Rocky Gap gorge that was there before it was impounded and flooded to make the lake was the most ecologically unique place in the entire county. You can still see part of the gorge below the spill way, although you have to go off trail to see most of it. I call it the "rain forest." It is a verdent maze of Mountain Laurel, Hemlocks, and other northern moist climate flora. The temperature is about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the mountain. Perfect spot to get away for awhile.
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Old 11-14-2010, 09:03 PM
 
Location: Macao
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I visited Maryland and drove around Hagerstown and Frederick.

There is a very unique distinct feeling there...I think I read that one of them, maybe both of them, was built by Germans...and once had a large German population.

Anyways, I just noticed the houses were often rowhome/townhouse look, shared walls...and often built right up to the curb. (Thinking of the downtown area in particular). Lots of businesses interspersed among them as well.

This seems to be in large contrast to most of the America's smaller cities/towns...which are usually zoned residential and business, and houses have larger yards and long driveways and set apart from each other, etc.

I really liked the FEEL of Hagerstown/Frederick quite a bit.

From viewing WV photos, some of their towns also seem to have that density look...although I don't know if they do on the MD border...but noticed it with Wheeler, WV, etc. Maybe not quite as much as the MD cities though...feel free to comment though, as never drove around WV to really see outside of google maps, photos.

How about VIRGINIA towns? or PENNSYLVANIA towns...especially similar sized ones to Hagerstown/Frederick...see anything quite like that? Almost european-like built towns? Are those few towns in Maryland quite unique even in Maryland? (Cumberland seems to be built in the same way as Frederick/Hagerstown though - density/walkability/close together housing with businesses mixed in).
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Old 11-14-2010, 09:29 PM
 
Location: Cumberland
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The Germans are still everywhere along the Mason-Dixon in Maryland. The only remaining ethnic traits are stoic, no nonsense mothers and saurkraut at Thanksgiving, but I assure you we are still here.

Cumberland has alot less rowhouses than Hagerstown and Frederick. The hilly topography makes it very difficult. Cumberland instead is the home of the duplex. Some streets in the blue collar neighborhoods are nearly all duplexes, or duplexes converted into apartments. Hagerstown and Frederick are like siblings. Cumberland is that cousin that relates more to the other side of the family, the industrial towns of Northern Appalachia, like Altoona.

Really, any rust belt city of between 20k-50k is going to have that dense design you like. Wheeling, Morgantown, Clarksburg, and Fairmont, WV are among them, as are Johnstown and Altoona, PA. There are many others.
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