3. BOYDS BIKING
[See Full Boyds Biking Trail Guide for More Detail]
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More than two centuries ago the land around Boyds was parceled out in thousand-acre tracts to Tidewater planters in search of new frontiers. A handful came, bringing their retinue of tenants, servants and slaves, to grow tobacco and continue the plantation way of life.
This development had the most momentous effects. It brought an influx of people. It brought new life to the dying or abandoned farms roundabout, and launched new ways of farming that ushered in the district’s most prosperous period. It transformed the previously loose-knit aggregation of tiny hamlets—Bucklodge, Blocktown, White Grounds, Tenmile Creek—into a cohesive community, and it gave the name Boyds to the new town in honor of the man who did the most to bring the miracle about.
The railway station and the road network spreading out from it were a magnet for all sorts of new growth. The high, cool, open countryside soon began to draw summer visitors seeking to escape the heat of Washington. Boyds developed into a social and economic center, and both the black and white communities prospered.
Now start the tour as you bike south along White Ground Road.
2. Boyds Presbyterian Church
The earliest settlers in the region were too few to support a church of their own, but with the coming of the railroad, the population increased dramatically. Most of the newcomers, like Boyd and others who stayed on in town after building the railroad, were Scots or Scotch-Irish, devout Presbyterians who needed their own “kirk.”
In 1874, Colonel Boyd offered substantial financial aid for constructing a church, and James E. Williams donated the land on which to build it. By 1876 the building was complete and in use, except for the vestibule and tower which were added later.
3. St. Mark’s Methodist Episcopal Church
This church, for nearly a century the hub of social and cultural life for African-American residents of the Boyds area, was organized before 1879 when Colonel and Mrs. Boyd sold 55 square perches of land to the Church trustees “to have and to hold the same in trust for the colored people in that neighborhood for the purpose of holding a public school and meeting for religious worship in the building now thereon or in any building that may hereafter be erected thereon.”
4. Boyds Negro School
African-American children from the area attending school after the Civil War went to lessons at St. Marks, but by the 1890’s this one-room schoolhouse was in operation.
Soon after passing Taylor School the cyclist descends, gently at first, into an area that is heavily wooded and overgrown. There are few habitations along this stretch of road, because this is part of the famous “White Grounds” from which the road takes its name.
5. Buck Lodge
As you pass Old Bucklodge Lane (on your right) you cycle up a gentle rise and under high voltage power lines. Soon, on your left, you can see through the woods the ruins of the old Gott plantation house.
Now backtrack to the intersection of Old Bucklodge Lane and turn left (north). Soon the scrub oak and woodlots give way to open farmland. The road is a paved lane that follows angular farm boundaries on its notably scenic journey between White Ground Road and Bucklodge Road (Rt. 117).
6. The White-Carlin House
About 1.3 miles up Old Bucklodge Lane you will see a large, rectangular Georgian-style stone house on the left which was built about 1800 by Nathan White, one of the first settlers in the area. Named for its first and last individual owners, this house, like “Buck Lodge,” was the center of an early tobacco plantation worked by slaves.
Continue north on Old Bucklodge Lane through the grouping of houses known as Turnertown. Continue to the intersection of Bucklodge Road (Route 117) with Old Bucklodge Lane.
7. Community of Bucklodge
Before the coming of the railroad, this area was loosely settled, made up of plantations like Buck Lodge and the White-Carlin Farm, other farms along Bucklodge Road, and a sawmill and grist mill.
Turn northeast on Bucklodge Road, and shortly pass under a railroad bridge. The B & O Railroad opened a station here at Bucklodge in 1885.
Continue on to Blocktown, at the intersection of Bucklodge, Barnesville (sharp left), and Slidell (left) Roads.
Blocktown was a dairying community settled by African-Americans after the Civil War. Its name was derived from the method of constructing the houses using railroad crossties as a substitute for more conventional foundations.
Turn onto Slidell Road and cycle northward, down and up a couple of significant hills, past farmhouses that were here when the road was surveyed in 1875.
9. Slidell Junction
At the intersection of Slidell and Old Baltimore Roads, a small community was located at the turn of the century. The settlement had a school, post office, general store and several farmhouses.
10. Old Baltimore Road
Old Baltimore Road (Known here as West Old Baltimore Road), built in 1791 is one of the earliest roads in Montgomery County. The road was the link from Ohio to the markets of Baltimore.
Just a mile to the east of Slidell Road is Tenmile Creek. If you want a rewarding short side trip, turn right onto West Old Baltimore Road. At 0.7 mile, in the stream valley, sits picturesque pastoral land with scattered trees. Ride another 0.2 mile and meet the stream where the road runs into it. This is one of the few remaining country road fords in Montgomery County, though they were common a half century ago. Turn around here and return to the intersection and then right onto Slidell Road as you head north through farms and woodlands.
11. Bucklodge Forest Conservation Park
About one mile from West Old Baltimore Road, in a deeply wooded area, is the east entrance of Bucklodge Forest Conservation Park on the left.
A short distance beyond the park entrance the road dips and a picturesque pond lies on the left hand side of the road just before it crosses over a brook and ascends a hill where an overgrown old bank barn overlooks the small wetland. Another half mile brings you to the T-intersection with Comus Road, where you turn left.
12. Sugarloaf Mountain
A short distance (0.2 mile) and sharp rise on Comus Road bring you to the intersection with Peach Tree Road and a spectacular view before you. Rolling farm fields, some populated by livestock, and the foreground for this lovely view of Sugarloaf Mountain rising some 800 feet above the fields and about 3.5 miles away.
After enjoying the view, turn left (south) onto Peach Tree Road and enjoy 1.5 miles of tree covered country lane with scattered homes and the west boundary of Bucklodge Forest Conservation Park. The road then opens up with more beautiful views of Sugarloaf Mountain and farmlands and finally crosses West Old Baltimore Road again, shortly before arriving at the intersection with Barnesville Road at a stop sign.
13. Peach Tree Road and Sellman
Peach Tree is a fairly recent name given the historical Ridge Road. At one time, Peach Tree Road had four orchards and still does have two, family-owned, multigenerational fruit farms with roadside stands. These are both near the southern end of Peach Tree Road near Rt. 28.
Along the half mile of Sellman Road between Peach Tree and Beallsville Road (Rt. 109) was once the center of a farming community and is known to this day as Sellman, though none of the commercial establishments are still there. The Barnesville station is still in Sellman on Beallsville Road, although the station building is not the original.
Cross the railroad bridge and pass the intersection with the new Sellman Road, and continue south about a half mile to White Store Road and turn left. At the end of White Store Road turn left onto Bucklodge and follow it for 0.7 mile until you get to Old Bucklodge Lane coming in from the right. Turn onto that familiar road and retrace the next four miles back to Boyds train stop. Be sure to turn left where Old Bucklodge Lane T-intersects with White Ground Road.
14. Back to Boyds
Most of Boyd’s land is now flooded by or bounds Little Seneca Lake, a reservoir for the metropolitan Washington area water supply.
The little town of Boyds, and unincorporated village of about twenty houses and three businesses, grew up around the rail station which you visited at the start of the tour.
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