Smithsburg, Maryland - 2010.09

Ah, Smithsburg…

My mother lives in a small community on the northwestern edge of Maryland named Smithsburg. *comments removed due to resident objections* She was born there, lived there for all of her formative years, moved away for college and then away-away to Minnesota for 35 years. She and my father moved back several years ago to be closer to family still living in the area, and simply, I guess, because they wanted to.

As I walked my dog around town each morning, I came to realize that Smithsburg is a contradiction. Many of the buildings in the older part of town are well kept, brick two-story Civil War era homes, but between each, a squat semi-modern (40’s era?) wooden house has been built. Many of those houses are, at best, ramshackle. The paint is peeling, something is askew somewhere and there’s usually some piece of indoor furniture out on the lawn. Not ALL of the more modern homes are that way, but in many areas the financial state of the western Maryland area is visible.

Well, I like ramshackle. I like history. I like contradictions. How could I resist? (Plus, I hadn’t done any shooting what-so-ever in a couple weeks so I was itching to photograph something!)

Equipment Carried: Nikon D300, 18-70mm — Equipment Used: Nikon D300, 18-70mm

Here are just some of the photos I took that morning. I know that I haven’t done the town justice, but sometimes it’s hard to get good photos of a tight-knit community – especially at 6AM!

#34
Leave a Candle in the Window
On the Porch
Gummed Telephone Pole

Railroad to the Mountains
Broken
Weed
Walnut Grove Bike

On Friday, I dragged my husband Geoff out to a hill overlooking Smithsburg to get some sunrise shots. My original goal was to show the hills around Smithsburg, as they are quite cool, and a roller-coaster ride if you like driving fast. Unfortunately, to get the shot I was envisioning, I would have had to stand in the middle of a dangerous road at 6AM. An especially dangerous road in a town where many of the residents commute to Washington DC each day (one way = 2 hours). So, I settled for the farms and mountains – but couldn’t decide… color or monochrome? I leave it up to you, faithful reader, to tell me which is better…

Smithsburg Sunrise
Sunrise over Smithsburg (B&W)

Dearest Smithsburg, I know I’ll be back and
perhaps then I’ll have the gumption to explore more…

– Holly Kuchera


(if you’d like a really good sense of what Smithsburg and the surrounding area are like for community – read “Mail Call” from the Hagerstown, MD Herald-Mail newspaper)


  • Date: Wednesday, September 1st & Friday, September 3rd, 2010
  • Site: Smithsburg, MD
  • Time spent at the site: 1 hour + 1 ½ hours
  • Images taken: 62 + 140 (several multi-exposure HDRs)
  • Possible keepers: 72

4 comments to Smithsburg, Maryland – 2010.09

  • Kelly Jacobson

    I am a 47 year old woman, born & raised in the beautiful,wonderful town of Smithsburg, MD. I take offense to you calling us ‘a bit odd’. I also take extreme offense to you directing people to read “Mail Call” to get a better idea of the people of Smithsburg. Mail Call is made up of mostly people from Hagerstown, which is absolutely NOT what people of Smithsburg are like. We’re the ‘mountain people’, they are the ‘townies’. Different value systems. My husband also grew up in Smithsburg, we are well developed, educated people, I have 2 associates degrees in legal studies, my husband carries a BSN as well as a JD. I will admit that my beloved home town is not what it used to be. Since people from southern MD, (particulary Prince Georges county for some reason) have moved there and have ruined it. The lovely neighborhood where I once lived is now a haven for juvenile delinquents…most of which are not original Smithsburg residents.

  • Holly

    I’m sorry you took offense to my snippet of life in Smithsburg. I’ve lived in small towns nearly all my life and have found some of the denizens of them a bit odd. Mostly some of the older people who were born, raised and have never left the area for any reason. (I am not referring directly to you or your husband as I do not know you or he personally – so please please PLEASE don’t take offense at that.) When I talk about being odd I’m meaning quirky or slightly eccentric or a bit set in one’s ways. My mother (who lives on Main Street) has some of the most interesting, frustrating and fascinating people as neighbors.

    Mail Call is a oddity in the world of newspapers. I’ve never read anything like it anywhere other than the Herald Mail and think it offers a great cross-section of the people living in western Maryland and nearby areas. They all have their opinions and, right or wrong, they have the courage to state them for the community to read.

    I apologize for offending you on the topic of Smithsburg – it definitely wasn’t my intent to disrespect the community, just to show off some of it’s charms and quirks.

  • Karen Poet Snyder

    You are right lady…you did not do the town justice. I am 48 years old, also born and raised in Smithsburg, and I am definately not a “hillbilly”. I prefer to say that I am from the country. I moved to Tampa 10 years ago and I miss my hometown everyday. It is simply beautiful there. Kelly is right, (by the way Kelly is one of those hillbillies that I went to school with), people from the larger cities have ruined our quaint little town and driven the housing market out of reach for the poor folk that live there. Go leopards!!

  • Holly

    Fine. I have removed the objectionable section due to your comments. Have fun.

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