Woman Works To Preserve Middletown Valley, Karen Gardner, March 25, 2010, News-Post, Middletown, Maryland.
Elizabeth Bauer lives in the shadow of South Mountain. She can see the area where the Battle of South Mountain was fought and the rolling farmland that has characterized the area for generations.She is taking on the fight to preserve the mostly rural area. Bauer is the new president of Citizens for the Preservation of Middletown Valley, an organization formed two years ago to oppose plans to build a gas transmission compressor station in the area. In January 2009, Dominion Transmission bought an old stone farmhouse known as Fox's Tavern and 135 surrounding acres. Two months later, the Civil War Preservation Trust included the tavern as one of the nation's 10 most endangered Civil War sites.
Preservation Maryland and Maryland Life magazine recently named Fox's Tavern one of the 11 most endangered historic sites in Maryland. It's one of many privately owned sites historians and land preservationists consider threatened. Dominion's purchase of the land spurred the national historic preservation group to add the area to its endangered list. Bauer, her husband and two sons have all been active in Civil War living history. Her husband, Claude, and younger son, Brendan, 21, have participated in battle re-enactments. Her son Cameron, 25, joined the rest of his family to serve as extras in the Civil War movie "Gods and Generals."
Dominion plans to build a compression pump for its natural gas transmission line on the property, which is zoned agricultural. The pump is not likely to be built soon, but company representatives said it is part of long-range plans. The pipe moves natural gas from underground sources to markets in the mid-Atlantic region. The preservation group wants Dominion to reconsider building a compressor station on land zoned agricultural. The group said the noise generated by a compressor makes it more suitable for an industrially zoned area. "The Dominion issue is going to loom over us until 2015," Bauer said.
In the meantime, she hopes to get the group active in other land preservation and zoning issues in Frederick County. The group supports Frederick County's new comprehensive plan, which has tightened development possibilities around the county.
The group hopes to reach out to preservation-minded people throughout the county, she said. She also plans to look into the process used to extract natural gas from underground stores and research the ramifications for those whose properties are above the gas supply. "We have not been assertive in our approach," she said. "I want to get the hackles up. If you can get anger, you can get interest. It's amazing the number of people who know nothing about this."
Bauer is hoping to build the group's membership. It is applying for nonprofit status and Bauer is considering mass mailings to increase visibility and financial contributions. "I don't think the community realizes it's the board that keeps us going financially," she said.
Rich Maranto served as the organization's first president. Maranto, Bauer and Randy Buxbaum started the group in November 2007 and were the first board members. Buxbaum remains the group's treasurer. Bauer, 54, works in human resources for an intelligence firm. Most of her work is done from her home. She volunteered for many years with the Arthritis Foundation when the organization had a Frederick County office. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, which limits her living history acting to warm-weather events.She plays a civilian, and this summer will probably adopt the persona of a cook or seamstress.
Her interests and experience with arthritis combines with her volunteer work. At work, she sees herself as an advocate for her employees."When I retire, I want to become a health care advocate for seniors," she said. "People do not want to challenge their doctor's opinion, and they don't understand the long-term effects. "I'm a very caring person, but I'm also a force to be reckoned with. Not in a rude way, but I can be forceful."
Top Image: Fox's Gap--- The old Sharpsburg Road. This is the scene of the "Bloody Lane" during the battle of Fox's Gap that took place on September, 14th 1862. This is also the same road used by Breckinridge's troops in 1864 as they advanced toward Middletown. John Allen Miller, Photographer.
Second Image: North Carolina Monument at Fox's Gap
Bottom Image: Wise's Farm at Fox's Gap