Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ghost Town of Lapidum, Maryland

Scattered along the western bank of the river in the Susquehanna State Park, rests crumbling canal walls, corroded railroad tracks, foundations filled with earth, and overgrown pathways that may have once been roads. Not too long ago these homes were occupied, horses galloped along the streets, while trains and canal boats brought merchandise.

Lapidum, Maryland first saw settlers occupy the area in the 17th century. It's fertile farming land and access to the river helped the humble town grow in a short period of time. Corn and tobacco were the chief crops grown in the area, while shad and herring were fished from the local waters. The young community became a local commercial hub for northern Maryland, and southern Pennsylvania. Several ferries operated throughout the area, delivering goods to neighboring river town Port Deposit, as well as upstream to Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania.

By the 19th century the meager territory was growing in size. The town profited greatly through the canals, and the community began to flourish. A three story Victorian style hotel was built. Also a masonic hall, a church, a mill, a school and several warehouses and wharves. As the town was growing the country was changing. Less commerce was being traded by canal routes. Trains and the automobiles were replacing the antiquated method. Eventually stiff railroad competition forced a halt on most of the commerce in the area. Gradually the residents began to leave and the prosperity washed away. Both figuratively and literally, several ice jams along the river caused much damage to the warehouses of the town, ending any future commerce forever.

Over time the homes and businesses were knocked down and the foundations back filled. The canal boat no longer passed through. The mule paths became overgrown with weeds. The canal walls grew over with ivy, and moss. And the area of Lapidum became a ghost town, as well as a grim reminder of what can become of a town when commerce and economics fail to keep up with a rapidly changing world.

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