Assay office

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Assay office and goldenrod. Fall 1974.

Assay office and goldenrod. Fall 1974.

Land purchased by the State of Maryland for the Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area included two historic buildings: Red Dog Lodge and a log cabin said to have been built in 1848. The lore is that the cabin was used as an assay office for the Tyson chromite mining operation. It was apparently well maintained for most of its decades and was well preserved when I photographed it in the fall of 1974 before much restoration had been done. There were no windows or doors, but it had a real foundation (maybe even a cellar), intact chinking, and a mostly functioning roof.
Assay office. Fall 1974.

Assay office and bristlegrass. There seems to be some light leakage at the top of this and other frames, I guess from worn out bulk-loaded cassettes. Fall 1974.

Soldiers Delight’s first ranger, E. Vernon Tracy, organized some restoration, and by the spring of 1975 the windows and doors were boarded up and it had a new roof, or at least a different roof. In 1974 there was a patched composition shingle roof, and in 1975 there appeared to be a wood shake roof, but not necessarily a brand new one. So I’m not sure what changed.
William Fastie, Florence Rogers, and James Poultney at the assay office. Spring 1975.

William Fastie, Florence Rogers, and James Poultney at the assay office. Other than family members, Florence Rogers is the only person I ever heard my father say really bad things about. Spring 1975.

The cabin was said to be made of American chestnut logs, and the photos are consistent with that. I think the joins at the corners are referred to a saddle notched, a common feature of 19th century log cabins. It seems to have been a prize artifact, which unfortunately was destroyed by an arsonist in 1985.

I don’t remember photographing the cabin in 1974, or even that I knew of its significance. Neither do I remember photographing it in 1975 or being there with Bill Fastie, Florence Rogers, Jimmy Poultney, and Vernon Tracy. I assume that is Vernon Tracy in uniform, whom I don’t remember ever meeting. He was the first ranger at Soldiers Delight and this meeting must have been a special occasion. I don’t think it was a big ceremony, and it was not the same day as the Red Dog Lodge ceremony, because Jimmy Poultney is wearing a different suit and tie. But it was apparently an important day. I’m glad I was there.

William Fastie, James Poultney, and Vernon Tracy at the assay office, Spring 1975.

William Fastie, James Poultney, and Vernon Tracy at the assay office, Spring 1975.

Vernon Tracy at the assay office, Spring 1975.

I assume this is Vernon Tracy at the assay office. He was responsible for getting the cabin vandal proofed. Spring 1975.


Bill Fastie and Jimmy Poultney at the assay office. Spring 1975.

Bill Fastie and Jimmy Poultney at the assay office. Spring 1975.

Saddle notch corners of the American chestnut log cabin., Spring 1975.

Saddle notch corners of the 1848 American chestnut log cabin, Spring 1975.

Bill Fastie and Jimmy Poultney. Spring 1975.

Bill Fastie and Jimmy Poultney. I recall that Professor Poultney looked at me like that a lot, and never quite knew what to say to me. I don’t recall that he was ever married, and suddenly I have decided that he was gay. Based on absolutely no other evidence. This is why I should not have a blog. Spring 1975.

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