On one shelf in a room of the museum where Bast has re-created the look of an old general store stands a small bottle of Dr. Peter Fahrney's patent medicine. It is lost amid scores of other bottles, but this bottle is the seed that eventually grew into the Boonsborough museum. Bast bought the piece for $1 from another child when he was in grade school.
"I came home and my father said: 'You wasted a dollar on that thing?'" Bast remembers his father asking him.
It was Bast's mother's fault in a sense, Bast said. "I guess I got that from my mother, she was kind of a pack rat."
For all the intricacies in what Bast sometimes calls his Little Smithsonian, there are residents right there in Boonsboro who have never stopped in.
"When people come here they say 'Wow, I didn't realize we had this in our area,'" Bast said. "A lot of people in Boonsboro never have an idea until they come in."
Like the bottle that started Bast's collection, scores of sites across the area help to draw millions of visitors to Washington County annually.
"Washington County has a lot to offer for travelers who are interested in discovering history and looking at the heritage that we revere here in Washington County," said Thomas B. Riford, president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We have a lot of things here that are just not known outside of our borders."
With the approach of Memorial Day on May 30, the convention and visitors bureau sponsored a Museum Ramble! on May 7 and 8, an event that highlighted several museums across the county including the Boonsborough Museum of History.
The event kicked off National Tourism Week, which was May 8 to 15.
Riford said Washington County each year captures the attention of millions of visitors in search of history, culture, recreation and shopping. Once here, according to the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, those visitors spent $176.1 million in Washington County.
"Tourism is not just having a bunch of nice things for people to come and visit," Riford said. "Tourism is jobs in our community. It helps the quality of life for everybody that we don't have to build them a new school, that we don't have to build them a brand new wastewater plant."
With the approach of Memorial Day, the kickoff to the summer travel season, tourism departments across the country observe National Tourism Week to showcase what they have to offer and illustrate why families should plan to vacation there.
"I guess it's a way to put the focus back on tourism before the summer travel season," said Karen Glenn, spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development that oversees the state's tourism department. "We're always trying to look at ways to encourage people to look at tourism and, during tourism week especially, we try to bring the topic home."
Glenn said that while areas such as Baltimore, Annapolis and the shore points are popular destinations, her office is hoping to increase interest in places such as Denton, Cambridge and Western Maryland.
Riford said Washington County has an edge on the tourism game because of its diversity of venues. In addition to its Civil War sites and places such as the Boonsborough Museum, the area lays claim to the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, The Maryland Theatre, the Hagerstown Suns baseball team and state, county and local parks and recreation areas.
Many of the attractions are publicly run, including Fort Frederick State Park, but many are run by people like Bast who have an enthusiasm for history and a desire to share that with others.
"Without the participation and the partnering of many private individuals, many private collectors opening up their homes, a lot of these museums wouldn't exist," Riford said. "Thank goodness for the energy and enthusiasm of many, many individuals who volunteer their time, free of charge, to show their collections of the history and heritage of Washington County."