Art Space

January 04, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

It's back.

Art Space - an occasional Sunday Lifestyle feature - will highlight accomplishments of Tri-State area residents.

If your book has been published or your album has been recorded and released, contact Staff Writer Kate Coleman. To enter the Art Space, mail a basic press release with a copy of your book or music to Art Space, Lifestyle, The Herald-Mail Co., P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741. Fax it to 301-714-0245, or e-mail it to Please include a daytime phone number.

We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your good news with readers.

Author gathers images and tales for book on C&O Canal

Mary H. Rubin has done it again.

Her recently released book, "The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal," is the Hagerstown resident's fourth in Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series.

The 128-page volume contains more than 200 photographic images of the 184 1/2-mile man-made waterway along the Potomac River. The canal was a market route and a "lifeline" for communities and businesses along its path for nearly 100 years.


Rubin wanted to include pictures of the canal's entire span - from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Md. A handful of the images are from the Western Maryland Room of the Washington County Free Library and the Maryland Cracker Barrel magazine. Most are in the collection of the C&O National Historical Park headquarters in Hagerstown.

Deciding which photos to include really took some deliberation, Rubin says. Images of lockhouses, the canal in winter, mules pulling barges, families and boating parties on the canal tell its story.

Rubin's previous "Images of America" books are "Hagerstown," published in 2001; "Washington County," 2002; and "Railroading Around the Hub City," 2003.

"When are you going to do one on ... ," people have asked Rubin at book signings, naming their hometown or an area they'd like to read about.

Rubin says she's working on a few ideas for future projects.

"The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal" costs $19.99 and is available at area bookstores and online at For information, call 1-888-331-2665.

Blue Mountain House hotel and its impact on community remembered

Barbara Cool says she should have lived at the turn of the last century.

She is fascinated by the late 1800s and early 1900s, a time when the Western Maryland Railroad brought "high-class" Baltimoreans to the cool of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Pen Mar Park opened in 1877, and in 1898 the railroad carried more than a half-million "excursionists" to Pen Mar, according to a 1999 Washington County Department of Parks and Recreation documents.

Cool, 60, has bureau drawers full of old photographs and newspaper clippings. She's been collecting bits of historical information for the more than 40 years she's been married to Sam Cool.

The couple lives on the Smithsburg area farm that's been in Sam Cool's family for five generations. His great-grandparents lived beside the Blue Mountain House, the 300-room hotel built in 1883 to accommodate visitors to the area. Blue Mountain House was ravaged by fire in 1913. The home of Sam Cool's great-grandparents also burned.

At her husband's "repeated urging," Barbara Cool compiled "The Blue Mountain House," a book about the hotel and its place in local history. Area residents had served the hotel, providing labor, doing laundry. Sam Cool's ancestors delivered produce from their farm and eggs from their chickens in horse-drawn wagons, Barbara Cool says.

The couple has self-published a second book. In "The Buena Vista Springs Hotel," Barbara Cool tells the story of the area's other major inn. Built in 1890, the 500-guest hotel's amenities included a solarium, elevator, nine-hole golf course and heated swimming pool. A second pool had to be built because the first didn't sufficiently warm the "ice-cold" mountain spring water, Barbara Cool says.

The Cool family can look across the Pennsylvania state line to the site of the Buena Vista Springs hotel. A fire destroyed it in 1967.

Barbara Cool is working on a third book of local history - about the Mont Alto Ironworks in nearby Pennsylvania.

Her books are available for purchase at Blue Ridge Summit (Pa.) Free Library, Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library in Waynesboro, Pa., Dru's Books 'n Things in Waynesboro and from Barbara Cool at Cool Homes, 14425 Edgemont Road, Smithsburg, MD 21783.

"The Blue Mountain House" costs $19.95; "The Buena Vista Hotel" costs $29.95.

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