Proximity to the Chesapeake Bay has been the driving force in Baltimore’s eminence in commerce and transportation. But the story of Baltimore’s port is actually older than Baltimore itself. In 1706 – two decades before the founding of Baltimore – Maryland’s colonial legislators designated Whetstone Point, near where Fort McHenry now sits, as an official port of entry for the state’s tobacco trade with England. As the century progressed, five small ports – all within a few miles of each other – merged to become the Port of Baltimore. Meanwhile local development of the highly maneuverable Baltimore Clipper ships and the rise of the fabric and flour mill industries further stimulated international trade, especially to and from the Caribbean. By the early 19th century, Baltimore was the third-largest city in the U.S. By the early 20th century, Baltimore was the second-largest seaport in the U.S. for waterborne commerce. Today, the Port of Baltimore’s economic engine continues to have a huge regional impact, generating about $2 billion in revenue annually, and employing 16,500 Marylanders in direct jobs.
Baltimore thrived as a port city from the start because of its favorable geographic position. Twelve miles up the Patapsco River from the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore is 200 miles closer to midwest markets than any other eastern port. Goods placed on a boat could be transported to America’s heartland faster and cheaper by being routed up the Chesapeake Bay and the Patapsco. The launch of America’s first commercial railroad here in 1828 further fueled Baltimore’s economy. By 1906 the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad connected to 13 states, bringing raw materials to Baltimore to be turned into manufactured goods and shipped around the world.
In 1996 another much needed restoration took place. Speculations center on a trap door, crawlspace, and hidden room discovered during those renovations that the meeting house may have been used in the Underground Railroad since Quakers were so involved and Elijah Tyson was a member there.
Old Town Friends’ Meetinghouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973
Along with the perfect location for Baltimore’s port, the Chesapeake Bay also offered an abundance of natural resources that stimulated Baltimore’s early initiatives in manufacturing and trade. Hardwood for shipbuilding and waterpower for milling and weaving provided the means for sea captains and merchants to sail down the Bay and out to the oceans of the world.
39° 17.155′ N, 76° 36.595′ W. Marker is in Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker is on East Pratt Street, on the right when traveling east. Located along the Baltimore Inner Harbor walkway.
Baltimore was a late bloomer in colonial America. Chartered in 1729, the port grew rapidly after the Revolutionary War to become by 1800 the new nation’s third largest city. The harbor proved ideal for shipping grain from Central Maryland and flour from the Ellicott mills along the Patapsco River and the Gwynns Falls. Highways and then railroads linked Ohio River Valley farms and Pennsylvania coalfields with the port. Shipbuilding flourished with a succession of Baltimore Clippers, steamboats, and Liberty ships. The port lost its prominence in the trucking era after World War II. Shipping and industrial operations moved from the Inner to Outer Harbor, and the waterfront underwent a residential and commercial transformation.
39° 16.894′ N, 76° 36.672′ W. Marker is in Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. Memorial is on Key Highway.
From its founding in 1729, Baltimore’s proximity to the Chesapeake Bay was the engine that drove commerce, trade and industry. The most inland port on the eastern seaboard, Baltimore boomed as a leading city, center of industrial innovation and transportation hub linking the National Road, the B&O Railroad and the Bay. The Baltimore Museum of Industry celebrates and explores this side of Baltimore, highlighting the city’s many first—from the invention of the first railroad and first artificial lighting to the manufacture of the first umbrellas.
The hands-on museum displays Baltimore’s major industries over 100 years in shipping, printing, garments, machining, broadcasting, food canning, and even a corner pharmacy. Just outside you can visit the coal-fired S.S. Baltimore, the only operating steam tugboat on the East Coast and a National Historic Landmark, once used to guide larger commercial vessels in and out of port and into the Chesapeake Bay.
(Inscription beside the image in the upper center)
The Baltimore Museum of Industry is located in the original 130 old old Plant Oyster building, the only surviving cannery structure (the balance of the text is not legible).
Although the Chesapeake Bay will produce about 500 million pounds of seafood each year, the Bay’s oyster population has declined dramatically since the late 1970s, due to a combination of over harvesting, disease, and pollution. Today the local oyster population’s at about 2 percent of historic levels.
39° 16.927′ N, 76° 36.703′ W. Marker is in Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker is on Light Street. The marker is located in the Baltimore Inner Harbor boardwalk not far from the Science Center.
Since 1729, Baltimore has owed its existence to its deepwater port. The city looks east to the Chesapeake Bay and ports around the world. It also looks west with access to markets in America’s heartland. It began with local farmers bringing in their crops. In the early 1800s, the National Road, which started here as the Baltimore and Frederick-Town Turnpike, gave the port more and more reach inland.
“The long ocean trip is ended and the great unknown is before them.”
Baltimore has always welcomed immigrants. Many have been poor and desperate, fleeing war and famine. They were seeking comfortable lives and religious freedom. At first, most were Germans and Irish. Later, they were Poles, Italians, Scandinavians, Czechs, Lithuanians, Greeks, Russians and freed Blacks. Many traveled west on the National Road, adding their ingredient to the American “melting pot.” Second only to New York, Baltimore was a doorway to a new life for millions.
[Photo of the Port of Baltimore, courtesy of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum]
Steam and sail once competed for business in a crowded Baltimore Harbor. Trucks still carry cargo to and from modern marine terminals on centuries old roads.
[Photo of immigrants on a ship, courtesy of the Maryland State Archives]
As immigrants landed in Baltimore and took to American roads and railroads, they created a rich tapestry of cultures throughout the nation.
39° 17.131′ N, 76° 36.656′ W. Marker is in Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker can be reached from Pratt Street. The marker is on the exterior wall of the USS Constellation visitor center.
To the memory of the United States Merchant Seamen who lost their lives serving the United States of America.
39° 16.9′ N, 76° 36.686′ W. Marker is in Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland. Memorial is on Key Highway. The marker is on the waterfront of the Baltimore Inner Harbor in front of the Maryland Science Center.
As Fredericktown was born in 1745, German farmers were already hauling their grain to the port of Baltimore. By the 1780s, new communities were springing up along busy wagon routes. Two speculators, Nicholas Hall and William Plummer, competed to sell lots along a strip of road just a one-day wagon trip east of Frederick. When Mr. Hall sold the first nineteen lots on June 1, 1793, the town of New Market was born.
New Market was soon a major stop on a public road. After 1805, the “all weather” Baltimore and Frederick-Town Turnpike became the first leg of the National Road.
During the next three decades, over three million travelers used the road. They paid 25 cents for lodging and 5 cents for a whiskey at eight New Market hotels and taverns. Today, this historic village still welcomes travelers to antique shops, restaurants and a small general store, where you can still pick up provisions.
39° 22.976′ N, 77° 16.201′ W. Marker is in New Market, Maryland, in Frederick County. Marker is on Main Street (Maryland Route 144) west of Prospect Street (Maryland Route 874), on the left when traveling west.
“Make easy the way for them and then see what an influx of articles will be poured upon us.” – George Washington, 1786
You are standing on the original roadbed of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, North America’s first common-carrier railroad. Baltimore’s leading merchants and businessmen founded the B&O in 1827 to connect the city to western markets. Within a few decades, raucous steam-powered trains carried daily deliveries of coal, wheat and lumber from rural areas to the port of Baltimore, securing the city’s prominence in world trade.
The B&O Spawns Industries in the Patapsco Valley
Waterpower and the railroad mad the Patapsco Valley an ideal place for industry. Shortly after the railroad’s completion, established factories expanded and new factories were built. The railroad provided a ready supply of materials and a convenient means of shipping products in Baltimore.
The B&O linked the Patapsco Valley’s mill communities together and connected them with the outside world. Until 1949, daily passenger trains trundled up and down the valley carrying mail, passengers, and newspapers. Railroad stations also provided residents with telegraph services.
Along the Patapsco Heritage Trail you will follow or parallel the path of the arly railroad. Look for stone bridges, walls and culverts that date back to the railroad’s early development. At this location, you can see the remains of stone abutments for the patterson Viaduct, a bridge that once carried tracks across the river. It now supports a footbridge for park users.
Text with main photo: The westbound ore train emerging from the Ilchester, Maryland tunnel and crossing the Patapsco River on May 13, 1951.
Text with lower left photo: Ellicott City Train Station.
Text with lower middle top photo: Locust Point.
Text with lower middle middle photo: Grove Mill.
Text with lower middle bottom photo: Glen Artney stop.
Text with lower right top photo: Completed in 1829, the B&O crossed the Patapsco River atop the graceful Patterson Viaduct.
Text with lower right bottom photo: Destroyed by a flood in 1866, the viaduct was replaced by an iron truss Bolman Bridge. By 1903 the railroad was re-aligned to bypass the river’s severe curvature. A new bridge was built upstream.
39° 14.923′ N, 76° 45.89′ W. Marker is near Catonsville, Maryland, in Baltimore County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Washington Boulevard (U.S. 1) and South Street. Marker is within the Patapsco Valley State Park – Orange Grove area, on the northern side of the Patapsco River (Grist Mill Trail), about 1.25 miles west of the Swinging Bridge. Vehicle entrance to PVSP is about 300 feet north of the US 1 – South Street intersection near Elkridge. A pedestrian entrance to the park is just across the river from this marker on Ilchester Road.
“Open a wide door, and make a smooth way for the produce of that Country to pass to our Markets.” George Washington, 1784
America’s founders looked west for the future success of the new country. The United States needed good roads and canals to open up frontier settlements. Baltimore was one of the first eastern cities to build a “smooth way” to the interior. Soon after 1800, this “Great Western Turnpike” became the first leg of a National Road that eventually reached St. Louis.
By the mid 1830s, western farmers were shipping their crops and goods to Baltimore on the National Road. There, local merchants used the growing port of Baltimore to reach a world market. The result was a revolution in “community-based” agriculture that soon became national and international. Livestock, grains, fruits and vegetables were linked to customers by an ever improving transportation system. Freight wagons were followed by the railroad, then the automobile. Today’s ever present eighteen-wheeled trucks are direct descendants of the Conestoga Wagons pulled by six-horse teams on the old National Road.
On the lower left is a photo of the Hebb House dating to the early 20th century. On the lower right is a photo showing, Local farmer Thomas Selby is seen here in front of a 24-45 Case Tractor in 1954. In order to avoid the expense of having to buy their own equipment, farmers often hired custom threshers at harvest time. This 1926 tractor was used until 1958 by Mr. Edward R. Frank, Sr., who traveled to farms throughout Howard County, including this one, to thresh grain for farmers.
39° 18.3′ N, 76° 57.891′ W. Marker is in West Friendship, Maryland, in Howard County. Marker can be reached from Frederick Road (Maryland Route 144), on the left when traveling west. This marker is located within the grounds of the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum. It is just behind the house.
You are standing at Mile Marker 14, a historic stone marker located at the intersection of US Route 40 and MD 144, formerly known as the Pine Orchard hamlet. Although it has worn away over time, hand-chiseled letters read 14 M To B, meaning 14 miles to Baltimore. Mile Marker 14 (Historic Site Inventory #595) is one of 34 remaining markers out of the original 45 that denotes the mileage from Frederick to Baltimore and on the Baltimore and Frederick-Town Turnpike (MD 144), also known as the old National Pike. This tradition of stone markers dates back over 2,000 years to the road builders of the Roman Empire, and it continued in 19th century America.
Mile stones were a welcome sign for travelers in horse-drawn carriages or wagons. Overloaded wagons often covered only a few miles a day. Although built to last, the permanency of some mile stones has been usurped by road improvements that accommodated modern travelers. Only a few remain in their original location, primarily installed on the north side of the road.
The National Road was the first federally-funded highway in the United States. In the early 1800s, Congress approved funds to connect the Port of Baltimore with the expanding lands, creating the primary gateway to the Midwest. Cumberland, Maryland was to be the eastern starting point on the National Road. The Baltimore and Frederick Turnpike Company began in 1805, and in 1807 the ten miles that parallel Route 40 (now Frederick Road) were completed. The opening of the National Road saw thousands of travelers in covered wagons heading west over the Allegheny Mountain seeking new settlements. The road also became a corridor of moving goods and supplies. Small towns and hamlets along the National Road’s path began to grow and prosper as did the development of roadside taverns, wagon stands, blacksmith shops, and livery stables. Taverns were probably the most important and numerous businesses found on the National Road. It is estimated that there was about one tavern situated on every mile of the road.
The Pine Orchard hamlet had several businesses built in the mid-nineteenth century, including a blacksmith shop, store and the “Pine Orchard Hotel,” a stone building originally constructed c. 1840. The 1878 Atlas also shows an African Methodist Episcopal church in the hamlet and census data reveals large numbers of African American farmers lived in proximity to the Pine Orchard Hotel. By the 1960s, the stone building was sold and converted into a liquor store which is what stands there today. (See more on the Pine Orchard Hotel in the sidebar.)
With the expansion of railroads and the canal system, the National Road experienced a decline in the mid to late 1800s, putting taverns out of business. The Federal Highway Act of 1921 established a program of federal aid to encourage the states to build “an adequate and connected system of highways, interstate in character.” In 1926, the grid system of numbering highways was in place, thus creating US Route 40 out of the remnants of the National Road. Route 40 served as a major east-west artery until the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 created the interstate system, and much of the traffic was diverted away from the old National Road.
This portion of the old National Road is still in use today by a variety of road users including bicyclists. Over the years, taverns have been replaced by modern roadside businesses. The two-lane roadway today is dotted with old inns, tollhouses, diners, and motels that trace 200 years of American history.
Located on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties, the Pine Orchard Hotel was constructed c. 1840. The building, a “stone’s throw away” from Mile Marker 14, is located on a small remnant of a larger property known during the early nineteenth century as “The Plantation.” Anna M. Hopkins (1789-1864)
project that realigned US Route 40. The small parcel (c. 0.83 acre) became isolated from its greater agricultural context in the early twentieth century. It is not known when the Pine Orchard Hotel closed.
For much of the twentieth century, the Brosenne’s owned the stone house and operated a portion of the property as a store. In 1968 the Brosenne’s sold the store, which became a liquor store by the late 1960s. Since its sale by the family, several partnerships and companies have owned the property operating the Pine Orchard Liquors business on the premises.
39° 16.777′ N, 76° 51.923′ W. Marker is near Ellicott City, Maryland, in Howard County. Marker is at the intersection of Baltimore National Pike (Route 40) and Frederick Road, on the right when traveling east on Baltimore National Pike.
You are standing on the original right-of-way of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the nations first commercial railroad to handle both freight and passenger service. This right-of-way stands on land donated to the railroad by James Carroll the owner of the Mount Clare estate and its use for rail service was granted to the B&O by the State of Maryland.
This marks the point of origin for the B&O’s historic line west to the Ohio River. This right-of-way had upwards of 19 tracks, carried countless civilians and soldiers as well as millions of tons of freight in and out of Baltimore. Practically every type of motove power from horse-drawn railcars and diesel engines has passed over this ground.
The right-of-way has been in continuous use since 1830 by the B&O Railroad and its successors including the Chessie System and CSX Transportation. Today it is owned, operated and maintained by the B&O Railroad Museum and continues to carry museum visitors over the most historic mile of railroad track in America.
39° 17.101′ N, 76° 37.982′ W. Marker is in Washington Village/Pigtown in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker can be reached from West Pratt Street east of South Schroeder Street, on the right when traveling east.
You are standing on the site of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Mount Clare Shops, a large industrial complex critical to maintaining every aspect of the railroad’s daily operations. Because of their strategic importance, the shops were among the first sites in Baltimore that the U.S. Army secured when the Civil War began. From this heavily guarded location the B&O supported the Northern war effort. Thousands of troops, tons of supplies and munitions, and material essential to rebuild damaged sections of track moved west from Baltimore along the B&O. With armies constantly maneuvering, with the ceaseless demands for military supplies, and with the numerous attacks on the rail line by Confederate raiders, the vital work here never stopped.
39° 17.13′ N, 76° 37.926′ W. Marker is in Washington Village/Pigtown in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker is on West Pratt Street. This marker is on the grounds of the B&O Railroad Museum.
For several decades in the early 1800s, thousands of Conestoga Wagons, “ships of inland commerce,” ruled the National Road. With their sloping bodies, wheels taller than a man and six-horse teams skillfully maneuvered with a single “jerk line,” they could carry up to eight tons of freight. The railroad, a Baltimore-borne transportation revolution, soon put them out of business, along with the taverns, livery stables, wheelwrights, and blacksmiths that served them.
In 1830, the National Road was still under construction when here, from the Roundhouse, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad introduced the first regular freight and passenger service in the United States. By 1852, the B & O spent $15 million to lay track as far as the Ohio River. Freight and travel time was cut in half. The “national road” was now on rails.
More about this marker. Three illustrations span the lower half of the marker. On the left, The giant Conestoga freight wagons, with their jingling teams of heavy horses, were an impressive sight. However they were too slow and cumbersome to compete with railroad cars
In the lower center, In spite of soot and noise, railroad cars were smoother, more comfortable and faster than the old stagecoaches on the National Road
On the lower right, 19th century Americans declared “go-ahead is our maxim and password” as they opened up the continent. The noisy and dirty steam railroad, called “hell in harness,” made that task possible
The background of the marker is “National Road at Fairview Inn” which is the standard for markers in this series. An elevation diagram of the national road is displayed on the bottom of the marker’s face.
39° 17.116′ N, 76° 37.91′ W. Marker is in Washington Village/Pigtown in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker can be reached from West Pratt Street (U.S. 40).
“… so many happy people, restless in the midst of abundance.” —Alexis de Tocqueville, 1840.
Americans are an adventurous people. From past to present, they have used feet, horses, wagons, stagecoaches, canals, railroads, bicycles, automobiles, trucks and buses to “perpetually change their plans and abodes.”
Centuries ago, George Washington dreamed of a highway joining east and west. In 1806, Thomas Jefferson made that roadway a reality when he risked his Presidency by authorizing, “an Act to regulate the laying out and making [of] a road from Cumberland in the State of Maryland to the State of Ohio.”
The next generation built that “United States Road,” a thirty-foot wide, crushed stone thoroughfare that spanned rivers, traversed mountains and opened up America’s western frontier to the Mississippi. Merchants, traders and families from all over the world journeyed along this route in their quest to claim land, expand markets and form new lives.
Today, you can trace that same path along the Historic National Road. Discover the places, events and stories that shaped this nation. To have your own adventure, stop by any Welcome Center or local visitor center to speak to a travel counselor and pick up a Historic National Road map-guide.
Built in the early 1800s, a paved highway west was America’s first federal project. Much of the approximately 800 mile long National Road is still marked by historic milestones.
More about this marker. The marker displays a picture of a family standing beside an early 20th Century car along the National Road. Captioned: “Are we there yet? These early 20th century travelers speak to all of us who at one time or another couldn’t wait to get out of the car. Today, we have the luxury of taking our modern interstates for granted. But who can’t relate to those faces?”
The marker also has a map showing the general path of the National Road from Baltimore to St. Louis. And uses the background “The National Road at Fairview Inn,” which is standard for this marker series. An elevation diagram of the national road is displayed on the bottom of the marker’s face.
39° 17.116′ N, 76° 37.91′ W. Marker is in Washington Village/Pigtown in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker is on West Pratt Street (U.S. 40). The marker is in the grounds of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum.
African Americans played an integral role in American railroading from its inception. Slaves, and later freedmen, helped construct many of America’s early southern railroads. By 1859, Baltimore had one of the highest populations of free African Americans in the United States, many of whom were employed as laborers. African Americans were traditionally hired for the most labor-intensive jobs such as trackmen, brakemen, and firemen. Depending more on immigrant labor during the 19th century, northern railroads did not hire many African Americans until World War I.
Encountering violent racism in the north as they competed for jobs, African Americans were refused membership in the traditional railroad brotherhoods and unions. One of the first African-American railroad labor unions was the Association of Colored Railway Trainmen and Locomotive Firemen, formed in 1912. Most African-American railroad workers in the first half of the 20th century worked in unskilled labor and service jobs. Although many moved into the skilled trades, by 1966 only 2.5 percent of African-American railroaders were employed in “white collar” jobs.
African-American trackmen, circa 1930.
Many notable African-American inventors improved the railroading industry. Elijah McCoy patented an automatic lubricator in 1872 to regulate the flow of oil to locomotive cylinders and pistons. Railroads insisted that their locomotives have the “real McCoy” and not some inferior imitation.
The majority of dining car chefs and waiters were African American.
In the 1870s, northern industrialist George Mortimer Pullman recruited recently freed slaves as porters in order to provide the utmost service on his new sleeping cars. Considered admirable careers within the African-American community, men received higher wages as porters than other available jobs. By the 1920s, Pullman was the largest private employer of African Americans. Nevertheless the career was rooted in slavery and perpetuated negative stereotypes of African Americans. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids was established by A. Philip Randolph in 1925 and successfully lobbied for greater economic opportunities and equality.
39° 17.098′ N, 76° 37.96′ W. Marker is in Washington Village/Pigtown in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker can be reached from West Pratt Street east of South Schroeder Street, on the right when traveling east.
Prior to World War I, a small percentage of women worked for railroad companies as maids, car cleaners, and telegraph operators. The B&O hired its first women as car cleaners in 1855. As men left to fight overseas in the world wars however, the nation’s railroads called upon the service of female labor. Usually young and single, women filled many positions including track workers, yard workers, machinists, station agents, train operators, telephone operators, statisticians, lawyers, yard police, clerks, designers and engineers. The number of female laborers decreased as men returned from the war, but many nevertheless continued their employment as “white collar” workers in the offices and as stewardesses.
Women laborers during World War I featured in the Baltimore & Ohio Employee’s Magazine in May 1917.
Female shop workers, circa 1943.
African-American female car cleaners, circa 1943.
African-American women were hired by railroad companies as maids, car cleaners, laundresses, and porterettes. In 1926 the Pullman Palace Car Manufacturing Company hired 200 maids for long distance trains. Maids were expected to provide manicures, hairdressing, child care, cleaning, and any other services necessary to female passengers. On the west coast, Pullman also hired Chinese women as maids.
Reflecting on attitudes towards women as caretakers, stewardesses were responsible for the safety, comfort and pleasure of passengers and their children. The B&O’s first train hostesses were hired in the 1890s to serve special guests. After World War II, railroads increased the number of stewardesses on trains.
39° 17.125′ N, 76° 37.991′ W. Marker is in Washington Village/Pigtown in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker can be reached from West Pratt Street east of South Schroeder Street, on the right when traveling east.
The museum is commended in its efforts to protect and restore historic artifacts including the 1884 Baldwin Roundhouse damaged by winter storms in February 2003
39° 17.126′ N, 76° 37.998′ W. Marker is in Washington Village/Pigtown in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker can be reached from West Pratt Street east of South Schroeder Street, on the right when traveling east.
The Carrollton Viaduct carried the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad over the Gwynns Falls, its first malor stream crossing as it headed west from its Pratt Street terminus Completed in 1829, the 300-foot stone span is named for Charles Carroll of Carrollton, signer of the Declaration of Independence and one of the B&O’s founders. Worried about competition from canals, Baltimore’s business leaders cast their lot with a new untested technology, railroads. Horses initially pulled the loads, but the B&O successfully introduced steam-powered locomotives and became known as “the Railroad University of the United States” By 1880 the railroad helped make Baltimore the second largest port for grain and a major livestock and coal terminal.
… the great railroad … has probably contributed more to [Baltimore’s] commercial prosperity than all other agencies combined.
Thomas Scharf, 1881.
39° 16.52′ N, 76° 39.323′ W. Marker is in Wilhelm Park in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker can be reached from Washington Boulevard. Marker is about 2800 feet northwest of the trailhead parking lot, in the Carroll Park Golf Course.
to the understanding and preservation of America’s Railroad Legacy by its establishment of the B&O Railroad Museum as an independent and private non-profit educational institution in 1987.
Toward this end, CSX Corporation and its railroad subsidiary, CSX Transportation, contributed real property and historic buildings–constituting the Mt. Clare Shops and Yards of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the home of American Railroading for 165 years–along with the collections of locomotives, rolling stock, and other railroad equipment representing the physical legacy of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, The Western Maryland Railway and other antecedent railroads; and established an endowment to support the continued preservation of artifacts, buildings and property.
The Board of Directors of the B&O Railroad Museum acknowledges its gratitude this 18th day of March 1992 on the occasion of the transfer of the first mile of track of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to the
39° 17.127′ N, 76° 37.998′ W. Marker is in Washington Village/Pigtown in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker can be reached from West Pratt Street east of South Schroeder Street, on the right when traveling east.
When the Civil War began, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad became a vital transportation route for the Federal armies, with men and supplies passing by this station day and night. To protect the line, local businessman Thomas McGowan raised the Patapsco Guard and served as its captain. After the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, Confederate prisoners of war were held here pending either parole or transfer to prison camps. The war’s human toll was vividly evident here after the Union defeat at the Battle of Monocacy on July 9, 1864, near Frederick. Thousands of Federal soldiers and casualties, as well as more Confederate prisoners, flowed through town along the rail line as they withdrew to Baltimore.
One of the first railroads in the country, built of wooden rails carrying horse-drawn carts, extended from Baltimore to Ellicott City. Regular passenger service began on May 24, 1830. The first successful American steam locomotive, Peter Cooper’s Tom Thumb, famously raced a horse-drawn carriage running alongside the track near Ellicott’s Mills on August 28. Tom Thumb was winning at a top speed of 10-15 miles per hour, until a belt broke and the locomotive lost steam. This station, the nation’s oldest, was built in 1831. Iron rails soon replaced the wooden ones, and the track became part of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
Local businessman Thomas McGowan recruited the Patapsco Guards in September 1861 and served as its captain. The unit assumed provost marshal duties in Ellicott’s Mills until 1862, and then were assigned to the 3rd Maryland Infantry and marched to Harpers Ferry, where they skirmished with Confederate forces. On June 3, the Guard refused to cross into Virginia on the ground that the unit was a home guard raised to defend Maryland, not to invade the South. Several members were dishonorably discharged as deserters. In 1863, the Guard fought in a small action at Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, and then reported to Gettysburg after the battle to assist in guarding hospitals there. In August 1865, the guard was mustered out of service.
39° 16.057′ N, 76° 47.705′ W. Marker is in Ellicott City, Maryland, in Howard County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street (Maryland Route 144) and Maryland Avenue, on the right when traveling east on Main Street.
When European settlers discovered the Patapsco Valley, they found a source of untamed beauty rich in resources. Susquehannock and Pscataway Indians hunted and fished the valley full of elk, black bear, bison, gray wolves and deer. The white settlers also saw the valley’s fertile and iron rich soil, fast-flowing streams, and deep shipping channels that led to Chesapeake Bay and beyond.
Here emerged Maryland’s industrial revolution. Beginning in the lat 1700s, the valley erupted into activity with iron, paper, grist (flour) and textile mills. Entrepreneurs dammed the river and diverted its flow to water wheels that turned machinery – grinding wheat into flour and hammering iron into tools.
The landscape changed – companies carved out factories and villages along the hollows and steep hillsides. Factory employees lived in modest homes built by the company and paid rent to their employer. The towns often included a company-owned store, school and church.
The area in which you are standing was the heart of an early 1800s iron-milling town. During the colonial period, raw pig iron was shipped from Elkridge to England in exchange for British-made products. As the American Revolution neared, America’s infant industries began to make products to be used in America.
On this site Caleb Dorsey’s iron forge made musket parts for the American militia, and the Ellicott’s Avalon Iron & Nail Works made rails for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. These industries helped win America’s independence and ignite Maryland’s industrialization.
Text with main photo: Lithograph of the town of Avalon.
Text with middle left photo: Photo of Avalon Dam
Text with center photo: Rusted 19th Century nails. (Illustration by Brian Albrigth, 2006. Text with lower left photo: Photo of undeveloped river valley.
Text with lower right photo: Painting of Elkridge Landing.
9° 13.686′ N, 76° 43.3′ W. Marker is near Avalon, Maryland, in Baltimore County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Washington Boulevard (U.S. 1) and South Street. Marker is within the Patapsco Valley State Park – Avalon area, on the northern side of the Patapsco River, just under 1 mile from the park gate building, in the Avalon Visitor Center parking lot. Entrance to PVSP is about 300 feet north of the US 1 – South Street intersection.
The nineteenth century began with economic decline before years of rapid growth and prosperity transformed Elkridge. During the eighteenth century, the Patapsco River served as the economic lifeblood of Elkridge, but by 1800 tobacco cultivation and strip mining had caused the river channel to fill with silk, which damaged the vibrant shipping industry at Elkridge Landing. The iron industry continued to form an important part of the local economy during the 1800’s, and with the construction of new roads and railways, Elkridge’s fortunes improved.
In the 1820s, Alexander Ellicott and Brothers purchased the Elkridge Furnace site in the hope of reviving the local iron industry. The Ellicotts rebuilt the existing furnace in 1826, and built a house and store, a manager’s house, worker housing, and two log outbuildings. The Ellicotts later acquired the forge and mills built by the Dorsey family, located upstream from Elkridge on the Baltimore County side of the river. There, they established the Avalon Nail and Iron Works.
By 1850, the price of iron had fallen considerably, compelling the Ellicotts to sell the Elkridge Furnace to Robert Howard in 1852. Six years later, in 1858, Howard sold the complex to the Great Falls Iron Company. The flood of 1873 caused an explosion which destroyed much of the furnace, and it was never restored into operation.
The remains of the Elkridge Furnace Complex, can still be found near the intersection of Furnace Avenue and Race Road, and consist of an attached house and store, a manager’s house, a worker’s duplex, and two log outbuildings.
Access to transportation played a key role in nineteenth century growth of of Elkridge. With the opening of the Washington Turnpike in 1817, Elkridge again served as an important regional transportation hub. The turnpike was a gravel surfaced toll road that passed through Elkridge along what is today Main Street. In 1835, the Washington leg of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was completed through Elkridge.
The construction of the railroad resulted in the construction of the Thomas Viaduct, which opened in 1835. Designed by engineer Benjamin Henry Latrobe, son of famous architect of the U.S. Capital, and named after then B&O President Philip E. Thomas, the Thomas Viaduct is one of the earliest stone arched railroad bridges constructed in the United States.
In 1873, the B & O constructed the Viaduct Hotel, a combination train station and hotel, at the center of the junction at the Relay end of the Thomas Viaduct. The architecturally eclectic hotel, built of the same local Patapsco granite used in the viaduct, was for years a popular and fashionable place to stay on the route from New York to destinations south and west. The station closed in 1938. After falling into disrepair, the abandoned hotel was demolished in 1950
The Opening of the Washington Turnpike in 1817 spurred development within Elkridge, which continued throughout the nineteenth century. The G.M. Hopkins 1878 Atlas of Fifteen Miles Around Baltimore Including Howard Co depicts many residential buildings mixed with merchants, blacksmith shops, doctors, lawyers and other professionals along Washington Turnpike. The Great Falls Iron Company with its furnace, worker housing, and company store is shown along the Patapsco River, and the Washington Branch of the Baltimore and Washington Railroad also extends through the village.
39° 12.876′ N, 76° 42.37′ W. Marker is in Elkridge, Maryland, in Howard County. Marker is at the intersection of Furnace Avenue and Riverwatch Avenue, on the right when traveling north on Furnace Avenue.
The first mention of the Elkridge Hundred can be found in the 1702 Baltimore County Tax List. In 1733, the Maryland Assembly passed an act authorizing the establishment of a town, called “Jansen-Town,” located “at and about the Landing, called Elk-Ridge Landing, near the Head of Patapsco River,” in what was then Anne Arundel County. The act empowered a group of appointed commissioners to purchase thirty acres of land to be surveyed and laid out into forty lots for public sale. No charter was granted at this time. A second petition to officially charter a town on the site failed in 1762. Despite these setbacks, the small settlement of Elkridge Landing grew and flourished during the eighteenth century.
Elkridge was the furthest navigable point inland on the Patapsco River, and Elkridge Landing, as it was known in the Eighteenth Century, became a busy port for vessels bound for the Chesapeake and beyond. During the first half of the eighteenth century, tobacco formed the backbone of the colonial economy in the Maryland piedmont, nd large hogsheads of harvested tobacco were transported down “rolling roads” to the landing at Elkridge. A hogshead was a large wooden barrel capable of holding up to a thousand pounds of tobacco. The tobacco market continued to expand at the Landing, and in the 1750’s a central tobacco inspecting house was established.
The cultivation of tobacco rapidly depletes the soil, and was overtaken by wheat and other grains by the late eighteenth century. Grain cultivation at Elkridge spawned other local industries such as millers, bakers, distillers, and shipping agents. The house at 5481 Levering Avenue once formed part of the Hockley Grist Mill complex, and is believed to be one of the oldest surviving dwellings in Howard County.
In 1755, Alexander Lawson, Edward Dorsey, and Caleb Dorsey, Jr. established the Elkridge Furnace, located approximately half a mile down from the Landing. Slave labor provided both the man power and skill needed to run the furnace.
During the second half of the eighteenth century, facilities for the production of finished goods began to appear around Elkridge. These rolling and slitting mills manufactured nails, nail rods, and sheet metal from bar iron. In addition, the Elkridge Furnace produced cannons and cannon balls during the American Revolution.
Industrial and commercial activity at Elkridge slowed in the years following the Revolution. The Elkridge Furnace, once an integral part of the local economy, seems to have been in decline by the late eighteenth century. The 1794 Griffith map makes no mention of the Elkridge Furnace, and it was not assessed for the 1798 Federal District Tax. In 1806, a traveler commented ton the “large banks of iron ore between Baltimore City and Elkridge landing” and noted that although “several furnaces and forges have been erected,” they were no longer in operation due to the “scarcity of wood.”
The silting of the Patapsco River resulted in the decline of shipping activity
39° 12.879′ N, 76° 42.372′ W. Marker is in Elkridge, Maryland, in Howard County. Marker is at the intersection of Furnace Avenue and Riverwatch Avenue, on the right when traveling north on Furnace Avenue.