Capture of Fort Niagara during the War of 1812

A daring British night attack during the War of 1812 quickly secured this old French fort at the mouth of the Niagara River.

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The Second Battle of Fort Niagara was fought on December 19, 1813 between British forces commanded by Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond and American forces commanded by Captain Nathaniel Leonard at the mouth of the Niagara River near Youngstown, New York during the War of 1812. The British night attack was successful, and the fort remained in British hands for the remainder of the war.

On December 10, 1813, U.S. Brigadier General George McClure decided to abandon Fort George on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, which the United States had captured in May. His troops burned the nearby village of Newark to the ground before retreating across the river. Filled with thoughts of revenge, British forces seized the initiative.

On the night of December 19, approximately 562 British regulars commanded by Colonel John Murray crossed the Niagara River under cover of darkness, about three miles south of Fort Niagara. They captured some American sentries who had been warming themselves by a fire, and obtained the watch’s challenge and password. From there, a British soldier feigning a Southern accent gained entry to the fort, and British troops rushed in.

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O'Mahony Diners

Jerry and Daniel O’Mahony founded the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1917, sparking a renaissance of New Jersey diner manufacturing. It operated until 1952, churning out around 2,000 prefabricated restaurants. An offshoot called Mahony Diners, Inc. built four more diners before closing in the late 1950s.

“A modern Jerry O’Mahony dining car is more than just a casual eating place, – it’s the kind of place that people enthuse about and return to frequently,” a 1943 company advertisement promised.

Despite being one of the oldest and most prolific diner manufacturers in the country, only a few dozen O’Mahony diners remain. I’ve visited O’Mahonys in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia. O’Mahony diners have a simple, rectangular design with a ridged stainless steel exterior. Most have single-door, centrally located entrances.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Triangle Diner, at 27 W. Gerrard Street in Winchester, Virginia, is a 1948 O’Mahony with a stainless steel exterior and a storied history. Though currently closed, the Triangle Diner employed future country music star Patsy Cline in the early 1950s. Unlike many diners, it has sat at the same intersection since it opened. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

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A Trip to the Library of Congress

I’ve always loved libraries, from my days as a kid browsing the shelves after school, to being fascinated with my grandpa’s old books, to my college years and beyond, so the Library of Congress was one of the first places I wanted to visit when I moved to this area. What I didn’t realize was how it is just as much a museum as a functional library.

Unfortunately, the library’s oldest collection of books has been devastated by fire several times, first in 1814 and again in 1851. The second fire ruined many of the over 6,000 books Thomas Jefferson personally donated. An ongoing exhibition of Jefferson’s library in the main Thomas Jefferson Building shows 2,000 original volumes, as well as thousands of replacements and indicates which books are still missing. Other exhibits include a display on women’s suffrage, Rosa Parks, and comic book art. You can even see a copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

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Angel Unfurled

A majestic bronze angel dedicated to William and Dorothea Rueger in Hollywood Cemetery, 412 S. Cherry Street in Richmond, Virginia. William Rueger (1857-1936) was born in Richmond and his wife, Dorothea W. Vocke (1859-1909) was a German immigrant from Vlotho in North Rhine-Westphalia. The couple had one son.

William Rueger owned a hotel and saloon, carrying on the family business from his father and grandfather. He opened the luxurious Hotel Rueger at 901 Bank Street in 1913, which later changed hands and became the Commonwealth Park Suites Hotel. The angel’s scroll reads “They that lie here rest in peace.”

William Rueger (1857-1936)

South Mountain State Battlefield, Maryland

Idyllic southern Maryland scenery overshadows the carnage that once took place here.

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The Battle of South Mountain was fought on September 14, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside and Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. James Longstreet in Frederick and Washington counties, Maryland during the American Civil War. The battle was a Union victory, with the Confederate army withdrawing and General Robert E. Lee considering prematurely ending his invasion of Maryland.

After General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia destroyed the Union Army of Virginia at the Second Battle of Manassas, Lee saw an opportunity to invade Maryland, threaten Washington, DC, and possibly influence European powers to recognize Confederate independence. Lee divided his army and sent one wing to capture Harper’s Ferry, Virginia and the other into Maryland. A copy of his orders fell into enemy hands, however, and for once Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan acted swiftly to catch Lee off guard.

McClellan sent elements of his reconstituted Army of the Potomac to capture three strategic gaps in South Mountain, hoping to sever Lee’s army and destroy it in detail. The mountain passes were known as Turner’s Gap, Fox’s Gap, and Crampton’s Gap. Because of the difficult terrain and distance between them, the Battle of South Mountain was actually three separate engagements, though they all took place in a single day.

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Diners of Vermont

Vermont is a hidden gem for diner enthusiasts. Quaint mountain towns dot the countryside, and classic diners await hungry travelers. Though Vermont wasn’t known for diner manufacturing, enough found their way to the Green Mountain State to make this an important detour on any culinary tour.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Chelsea Royal Diner, at 487 Marlboro Road in West Brattleboro, Vermont, is a 1939 Worcester Diner (#736) moved here from downtown West Brattleboro. The 1958 sign was discovered in a New Hampshire barn and restored in 1999. The staff takes pride in its locally sourced food and homemade “Royal Madness” Ice Cream.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Public House Diner, at 5573 Woodstock Road in Quechee, Vermont, is a 1946 Worcester (#787). It was originally the Ross Diner located in Holyoke, Massachusetts. It closed in 1990 and moved to New Hampshire for a few short years before ultimately coming to Vermont. Since then, it’s had a succession of names, including the Yankee Diner, Farmer’s Diner, and the Quechee Diner. It reopened as the Public House in 2017 at Quechee Gorge Village, a tourist’s trap outside Quechee State Park.

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