Solley, near Baltimore USA
By Bob Solly
This article was originally published in the April 1998 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.
So it finally happened that I set off on Sunday morning early, in frosty but sunny conditions (but with a freezing easterly; wind that, with the wind chill factor, brought the temperature down to 14 degrees F) to find Solley.
I drove out of the centre of Baltimore across the Patapsco. This river gave the area the distinction of being the largest natural harbour in the USA.
From the description you may assume, correctly, that outside the Inner Harbour ‑ all demolished and rebuilt in the 1960s ‑ the area is flat estuary type landscape with industrial sites all along the main roads towards the sea. Clearly this is not a romantic landscape and as I drove down Ordnance road past the US Army depot to the junction with Chemical Way , my thoughts were reinforced.
Then I turned into Solley Way a narrow (for the USA) country road with golden trees on both sides. On the left a sign said, Solley Park. There was a small sports field and a changing hut but very little park. About a mile along, I saw two massive chimneys behind an earth bank described as Brandon Woods Energy Park. This turned out to be an enormous power station. A little further along, two lines of pylons made huge strides cutting a swathe through the trees as far as the eye could see.
I had travelled a little further when I saw a small community, including a Methodist Church and a new elementary school; it was obvious that children would have to be bussed in from other communities. The small dilapidated clapboard houses did not encourage approach and indeed there were no signs of activity.
I continued on the road only to find, as I had expected, two land infill sites either side of the road with wire fences that discouraged all visitors. After this, all trace of Solley, (apart from the road name) vanished. I have not found why a new school has been built there, but it is disappointing to note that the community will surely vanish in the near future.
The Solley community has been around since the early 1800s. The Solley, Hackman and Pumphrey families were the original settlers. The community acquired its name when Thomas Solley opened his general store on Rural Route 1 (now Solley Road). The General Store housed the local Post Office that serviced the peninsular between Marley and Stoney Creeks. I am advised by Chuck Solley, (in the US) that there are still four generations in the community.
Meanwhile, we will try to trace Thomas Solley ‑ he gave his name to an area near where he arrived in the 1800s with so much hope ‑ and the link with the Kent Solley families.
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