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Museum lets kids experience county's agricultural roots

April 03, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

SHARPSBURG - Colton Duvall, 9, and his sister, Madison, gazed at the ancient items on the shelves of the replica general store.

A butter churn, a pot-bellied stove, bottles with strange labels and a telephone with a crank on one side adorned the floor, shelves and walls.

"I like the shop because it has cool toys and stuff," said Madison Duvall, 7.

There were no computers or Bratz dolls in the store. And there weren't any Legos - one of Colton's favorites - but the two children were intrigued by the displays at the Rural Heritage Museum.

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The museum is holding its annual spring open house, and is inviting anyone who would like to come, but children are the preferred customers, said Jim Reeder, who helps raise money for the museum.

Reeder said that as Washington County grows, more families become further removed from farm life, even though the county has a rich agricultural history.

The museum is in one large room at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center off Sharpsburg Pike a few miles north of Sharpsburg. The replica general store is in the middle, and surrounding the store are displays that re-create farm life from days past.

One of the bigger attractions, Reeder said, is an original Conestoga wagon, the type that families used to settle the West. There also is a blacksmith section, farm equipment and home veterinarian supply display.

Laura Duvall, 36, of Smithsburg, came to the museum with her children and father. She said it was a new educational experience for her and her children.

"We were talking on the way about how much harder life would have been" to grow up on a farm, Laura Duvall said. "At least you don't have to get up at 4 o'clock (in the morning) before you go to school."

Duvall's father, Lynn Shaw, said bringing his grandchildren to the museum was something he had hoped to do for a while.

"It would be a shame to live in ignorance of this," Shaw said.

Colton Duvall wasn't as convinced as his sister about the coolness of the corncob checkers or the croquet and wicket set in the general store display, but he admitted it was kind of neat.

"I guess so, if it was back then," Colton Duvall said.

Colton and Madison's mother gave the two one way to look at it. Laura Duvall began posing the question: "If it was a game of croquet or plowing a field ..."

Her daughter barely let her finish: "Croquet!"

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