August 2011 - Spokes Magazine

August 2011 - Spokes Magazine

tells the short story of the Maryland Iron Company.

There is automobile parking at Furnace Town, and a

helpful staff that can provide maps and riding advice.

The local office of The Nature Conservancy shares the

headquarters and museum shop building, and a quick

pass through the Conservancy’s exhibits will reveal

much about the flora and fauna one might see from

the seat of a bicycle.

From Furnace Town several narrow country roads

beckon bicyclists. A northern route, along Millville

Road, crosses Route 12, in and out of several dense

stands of loblolly pine that make up the part of the

Pocomoke State Forest, and might loop gently to

the east, passing historic Mount Olive Church and

skirting the Nassawango Wildlife Preserve. Look for

American bluebirds at the margins of the farm fields,

for bright yellow Prothonotary warblers in the woods

along the road.

Be ready to brake for wild turkeys, or to pluck the

occasional Eastern box turtle from the macadam and

hasten him to his destination on the far side. Warning:

Don’t do the same for snapping turtles, some nearly

a large as manhole covers, which you might see near

Furnace Branch or Mount Olive Branch.

Heading south from Furnace Town plunges cyclists

into the deeper, more primeval forest. Millville Road

in that direction edges Nassawango Creek, coming

closest to the water at the Red House Road bridge, a

popular launch site for canoeists and kayakers. The

road ends before the mouth of the creek, near a

bridge that is often lined with fishermen, jigging their

“darts” up and down after shad and herring during

the spring spawning run.

Turning away from the creek, Nassawango Road

bisects several large fields of, well, what will shortly

become chicken feed. Few farmers in Worcester

County, or anywhere on the lower Eastern Shore for

that matter, grow anything that is not destined for the

long, low chicken houses that often abut the fields.

Corn and soybeans predominate, but chickens also

eat rye, wheat and sorghum and farmers choose their

crops to appeal to the local feathered gourmands.

Small signs next to mailboxes announce that the

farmer grows for Perdue, for Holly Farms or for any

of the other poultry companies that process chicken

for East Coast grocery stores. Agriculture is still the

county’s major economic engine, despite the booming

tourist magnet that is Ocean City.

One of the county’s few incorporated towns,

Pocomoke City, is at the southern terminus of

Nassawango/Dividing Creek Road but it is not difficult

to log half-a-century on the odometer without

leaving the woods. Any attempt that humankind made

to civilize the wilderness, other than by plowing it, has

long since disappeared, though the evidence remains

for the sharp-eyed who pedal for the scenery as much

as for the mileage. Courthouse Hill, near the historic

community of Cokesbury Church was the center of

17th century justice in Somerset County (from which

Worcester was carved in 1742). Nothing of the early

courthouse remains, but a sign testifies to its importance.

Cellar House, a modest but imposing plantation

house, stands on a low hill facing the Pocomoke

River a short hop from Dividing Creek Road. Tiny

white churches are nestled in the forest along the

road, often sheltering small graveyards of leaning and

faded stones.

There are no convenience stores. There are no fast

food restaurants, no corner gas stations, and no

amenities in this part of the county at all except at

Milburn Landing, a primitive campground on the

western shore of the Pocomoke River. Even Milburn

has little to offer besides a small dock, some simple

cabins and tent sites. Don’t leave Furnace Town without

two full water bottles, and lunch if you plan to

stay out that long without venturing into Snow Hill

or Pocomoke City. Granted, civilization is not that far

away as the crow flies, but it is unwise to count on the

Some of the East Coast's best cycling

occasional soft drink machine or gas station air pump.

There are none.

Traffic-free serenity. That’s the hallmark of the Bog

Iron Trail.

Inaugural Iron Furnace 50

The First Annual Iron Furnace Fifty travels many

of the roads described in the adjacent story, part of

the Bog Iron Trail. Beginning at Furnace Town on

Saturday, September 17, the event is planned as a

fundraiser for the Furnace Town Foundation and the

Snow Hill Rotary Club. Cyclists will have a choice of

50-mile or 50-kilometer routes with frequent rest stops

(where drinks and snacks will be available). The $60

registration fee includes free admission to Furnace

Town, a long-sleeved Iron Furnace Fifty t-shirt, GPS

View Trail 100 offers cyclists a scenic tour of over 100 miles of

Worcester’s unspoiled countryside. From Berlin to Pocomoke City, with

four shorter loops including Assateague Island and Snow Hill, the trail

takes a circular route, traveling along small country roads, through

farmlands and forest, along coastal bays, rivers and creeks.

A predominantly flat landscape, moderate winters, summers seldom too

hot for riding and the days of spring and fall all make for perfect cycling

in Maryland’s beach and beyond. For more detailed directions and

GPS coordinates for the Viewtrail 100 and short loops visit:

For a more extensive cycling tour of Delmarva, check out the

“Great Delmarva Bicycling Trail” @

800-852-0335 •

bog iron continued on p.12

ViewTrail half page.indd 1

5/21/10 12:59:26 PM

August 2011


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