I write this column a week before it appears in the paper, so right now I am still reeling from the terrible train crash that took the lives of two young Mt. Hebron graduates. My heart goes out to their families and friends.

I feel bad for our little town as well. We're almost used to the fires and floods that visit us on a regular basis. Just a year ago my old office was sunk under six feet of water. Around that time we had an earthquake as well.


But this is a whole other level of tragedy.

I have always loved the intimate connection we have to the trains that pass though the historic district. My son Dave has always been a train buff. When he was small we would take him to Strasburg, Pa., to ride the antique train — him in an engineer's cap, of course.

When we first moved to Ellicott City, his bedroom featured train wallpaper. So it was no surprise that he started volunteering at the B&O Railroad Museum, Ellicott City Station, as soon as they would take him, at age 13.

Because of his, and later his brother Rob's, involvement, I came to spend many hours at the museum and know it well. I'm glad the train didn't fall on that special historic building.

Across the street from the museum is 8000 Main St., formerly known as the Emporium (not to be confused with the Phoenix Emporium). For a while it contained the offices of The View.

It was exciting to sit in there and watch the trains go by right outside the window — an experience second only to driving under the bridge with a train passing overhead.

But that was a happy thrill that we will never enjoy again. Now we will just be worried that the train will fall on our heads. So sad.

Top Ten

In happier news, our town, along with Columbia, has again made it into the top ten "Best Places to Live" by Money Magazine. It points out our "charming historic downtown" along with our "diverse population, reasonable housing costs (really?) and terrific schools."

My husband Tom and I have been here for 25 years and plan to age in place. To that end we recently remodeled two bathrooms, making the master bath user-friendly for us down the line, including a seat in the shower, grab bars and a hand-held shower head.

We don't need all that yet, but it will be there when we do. We love Ellicott City.

No Show House

Many people have been asking me where the next show house, sponsored by Historic Ellicott City Inc., will be.

Well, my friends at that organization have told me that for the first time in 28 years, there will be no show house this year.


That's a big hole in Howard County's fall entertainment calendar. It is hoped they will be able to do one next year.

Archaeology at the PFI

The Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park is more than just the location of the terrific Shakespeare performances. It is also the site of an ongoing archaeological dig.

Several thousand artifacts have been excavated so far and are now being catalogued. The artifacts have been cleaned but need to be identified by class, century/date and other modifiers.

The Friends of the PFI are looking for volunteers to help with this process. If you would like to help, contact them at leeprestonjr@comcast.net.

Alice Webb

I have known Ellicott City artist Alice Webb since the days when she hung her art at the Margaret Smith Gallery on Main Street and I worked as a publicist for Margaret.

Alice's paintings of the historic district are among the best around. I particularly like a drawing of the Railroad Station Museum (here I go again) she donated as a fundraiser.

Alice currently has a show at the Art Department Gallery at Howard Community College. Called "Around the Beltway," it features art she did for the Baltimore Sun depicting 25 Maryland counties.

The show runs through Sept. 23, and is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

First and Second

Don't forget to visit the historic district on Friday, Sept. 7, for First Friday. The event is from 5 to 9 p.m., with many shops open and offering special deals.

Sunday, Sept. 9, is Second Sunday Farmers Market, behind Tonge Row, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I hear that Nathan at Tersiguel's has branched out from his delicious breads and scones and is now also featuring amazing pizza as well. Check it out, along with all the best of season fresh veggies.