NOTE: The descriptions of the places in this guide were accurate at the time the articles were posted. Please be advised that you should call ahead before traveling to any of them.

Frederick, MD
Made you look!

By: Michelle Harper

Frederick Trompe l'oeil - "that which fools the eye". Next time you are at a social gathering throw that one out there to impress your friends. It sort of rolls off the tongue, but what does it have to do with Frederick, MD? Mild curiosity as to the meaning of the inconspicuous road signs proclaiming "Community Bridge Mural" led us to the answer to that question as we discovered a unique treasure in this seemingly ordinary old town.

We began our journey on foot at Market Street as we strolled along the Carroll Creek Promenade. Expecting to find a project completed by high school students or young children, we saw a stone bridge in the distance and determined that the mural must be just beyond that. However, once we were close enough to inspect the bridge more carefully, we realized the bridge we were looking beyond was actually THE Community Bridge Mural. We were totally stunned when we realized that all the rocks, hanging vines, marble sculpture, and carved stones were nothing more than illusion, a product of someone's vivid imagination and incredible talent. The artistry originated from the talented hands of William Cochran and his assistants who started the project in 1993 with a series of town meetings in various communities to gather ideas from many different perspectives. The total culmination of all his efforts is a 3-D illusion of more than 180 carved symbols representing viewpoints of a 1000 different people that has to be seen to be believed.

FrederickWe literally spent hours exploring the many nuances of the bridge, such as a gate that looks so real you feel as if you can reach out and open it. There were so many images intermingled among the stone paintings, it was like a mini scavenger hunt. We were even able to find a motorcycle! It is nice to know that bikers were represented as part of the "community" effort. A bench is conveniently located under the bridge so we were able to enjoy the shady and peaceful surroundings, completely oblivious to the iron and concrete realities and the traffic rumbling just above. The bridge created a sanctuary right in the heart of town. After surrounding ourselves in the illusionary world of the bridge, it became almost impossible for us to distinguish fact from fiction. In fact we had great difficulty trying to determine if an actual manhole cover was real or just another trick of the paintbrush without actually reaching out and touching it for ourselves.

Frederick As if the bridge were not enough of a treat, old town is definitely worth visiting for anyone interested in antiques and unique shops. The Delaplaine Visual Arts Center adjacent to the creek is a must see for anyone interested in the arts. In fact, it provides the perfect vantage point for viewing an unusual illusion on the bridge in which an angel appears to be coming out of a window. There are many restaurants in town to choose from ranging from casual bars to elegant dining. Frederick also offers an Annual Creekside Festival of The Arts in the early summer which includes visual and performing arts as well as many activities for the entire family to enjoy.

As an added bonus, there are three more life-like 3-D murals created by William Cochran tucked in unexpected places in town. For those of us who live for the little unexpected things in life, Frederick is the perfect day trip and a vivid reminder that we should not believe everything we see.

Directions: Route 15 North/340 East from Virginia to Frederick. As you enter Frederick, make a right onto South Street and then a left onto Market Street.

For additional information call 1-800-999-3613 or visit

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