Baltimore Museum of Industry- Join the Industrial Evolution!
By Bob Tagert
Baltimore Museum of Industry – Join the Industrial Evolution!
We were invited to attend the Distillery Showcase presented by the Maryland Distillers Guild on June 25th. We had tickets to see the Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton perform at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons that Sunday so we decided to make a two- day excursion…Saturday at the Museum and Sunday in Solomons Maryland. As it turned out, I misread the information. The Distillery Showcase was also on Sunday. The embarrassment grew as we reported to the museum receptionist that we were there to taste and write about whiskey. All was not lost. We had discovered the Baltimore Museum of Industry by mistake.
Last month we went back to the Museum as our September Road Trip. What a cool place! Even though we who live in the Washington D.C. area have access to the greatest museums in the world, this one about industry in Maryland brings the experience so much closer to our lives. I have heard of these names. I use Maryland inventions like Sweetheart straws every day. I remember some of these exhibits from when I was a boy. I can’t remember a World War I tank, but I do remember the AM radio in my dad’s car. I knew about the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, America’s first railroad. I had heard of Stieff Silver, Crown Cork and Seal Company and Black & Decker, and it is all here.
Out on the Patapsco River resting along side her dock is the Baltimore, a preserved steam-powered tugboat, built in 1906 by the Skinner Shipbuilding Company of Baltimore. She is the oldest operating steam tugboat in the United States. The Baltimore was built and operated as a harbor inspection tug capable of acting as a municipal tugboat for city barges, as well as an official welcoming vessel and VIP launch, an auxiliary fireboat and an icebreaker. She was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993.
The entire museum is a hand’s on experience. In addition to early electric cars, truck and fire engines, you will find galleries that recreate parts of a cannery, a garment loft from 1900, a machine shop from 1900, a print shop, Dr. Bunting’s Pharmacy (where Noxzema was invented), as well as exhibits on the food industry in Baltimore (McCormick Spices, Domino Sugar, Esskay). Who can forget Cal Ripken’s commercials for Esskay ballpark franks? In the Decker Gallery, the Milestone wall documents inventions and processes discovered first in Baltimore and other parts of Maryland.
The museum is located on Key Highway along the southern side of Baltimore’s internationally famous Inner Harbor. The museum is in the former oyster- packing house of pioneer packer L. B. Platt. Mr. Platt arrived in Baltimore in 1864. He was an oyster packer with experience in Connecticut, Chicago, Buffalo and Delaware. “The sterling of his character and the genial kindness of his nature won for him a host of warm friends…”
The museum looks out over the Patapsco River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Off to the right you can see the Domino Sugar factory, which has been operating in Baltimore for 90 years. Today it is a leading supplier of molasses to the growing distiller business in Maryland. The museum also has a calendar of events in the summer months.
If you make the trip, and it is well worth the 40- mile drive, also stop in next door at Little Havana. This is my kind of place! There is a big bar in the middle of the “old world room” that makes one think they might be in Cuba in the 1950’s. The food is very good and they have a large selection of good rums. Our bartender, Colby, was very informative and friendly. From the patio we could see the palm trees of the Tiki Barge surrounded by boats.
After a 15 minute walk down the promenade of this beautiful marina we came to the Tiki Barge AND pool (yes, the in ground/barge swimming pool is in/on the barge) tied up at the end of the dock. The pool, with its two bars, is open through Labor Day. The Tiki Bar sits on the top of the barge and gives an unparalleled view of the harbor.
Allow a good bit of time for your visit…there is a lot to see and experience. There is much here that we can identify with and remember hearing about. It is like walking into my parents and grandparents world. This is a great museum for folks our age and Little Havana and the Tiki Barge certainly round out the day. If you decide to visit the Inner Harbor or Fells Point I am sure that you can catch a water taxi from the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
Baltimore Museum of Industry
1415 Key Highway