EC Bell at the Devil's Race Course

Yesterday morning I took my usual Saturday walk along the old tracks of the Western Maryland Railroad. I have a bunch of old stereoviews taken along that line by E.M. Recher and B.W.T. Phreaner and have been trying to find where they were taken. Also, it is just simply beautiful on the run from my home in Smithsburg up to the top of South Mountain at Pen Mar. On this day I started up at Pen Mar and walked north. Lo and behold within a mile I found what I believe is a large cut in a view I have.

I was going to post about that today, but on the way home I saw a woman standing in the street with an old photograph of Smithsburg. She was standing right outside the Smithsburg Historical Society so I stopped to chat with her and went inside to donate a copy of my book. As I had hoped, local historian John Jakes was in there and we had a really great chat. John is an interesting guy who owns a huge peach farm where Jeb Stuart's artillery had six guns during the Battle of Smithsburg. But that's a story for another day...or two.

Anyway, he was showing me an old photo album that had been donated by the Bell family about a year ago, or should I say, since I had been back to see what photos they have. In this book was a photograph of E.C. Bell taking photographs up at the Devil's Race course, which is right off the tracks close to where I had just been walking. I was so excited that I grabbed a quick glare-filled photo with my phone and that is what you see here.

When E.M. Recher died in 1887, Bell took over his photo studio for about a year. In fact, I recently bought a stereoview on a Recher mount with Bell's stamp on the back. As John Jakes told me, BelMar is the Bell family home and it sits right across the street from the Smithsburg Historical Society. This is a lot of fresh information to explore.