Thursday, July 29, 2010


"Viaduct Hotel - Relay, MD" oil on linen (18" x 24") 2006

How I wish I could have spent the night in this scary hotel in Relay, MD. This location first had a railroad terminal and in 1872-3 the hotel, built of Patapsco granite and trimmed in red seneca stone, was added. The two-story porch on the Patapsco river side gave guests a splendid view of the valley and the world famous Thomas Viaduct which is celebrating its 175th Birthday this year. The viaduct was designed by Baltimorean Benjamin Latrobe and named after the first president of the B & O Railroad Phillip Thomas. Engineers remark today that the viaduct stayed firmly in place during Hurricane Agnes in 1972 as well as in previous devastating storms. The hotel in my painting here was closed in 1938 when train travel began to decline. This marked a total of 108 years of uninterrupted service for this terminal. Sadly in 1950 the hotel was demolished. In 1964 the Thomas Viaduct was declared a National Historical Landmark. Today you can stand on the tracks by the viaduct and stare at the empty grassy space where this magnificent hotel once existed.
The Thomas Viaduct is being honored this year with many exhibits and celebrations. On July 5 of this year I attended the Friends of the Patapsco Valley's celebration commemorating the completion of the Viaduct on July 4, 1835. Although it was a very hot day in the Patapsco State Park, an abundance of people showed up for the wonderful exhibition with Civil War re-enactors, model railroad displays, and a wonderful performance by the men's chorus who sang Irish Railroad songs.

Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Morse at the Celebration on July 5, 2010.
The Men's Chorus singing Irish Railroad worker songs, July 5, 2010

A well built model showing the construction of the Thomas Viaduct.

Lots of model railroad displays during the day long celebration in Patapsco State Park, MD.

And the best is saved for last - one of several terrific models of my beloved Viaduct Hotel.