Park Quest 2019

Gunpowder Falls State Park Quest
“Rail Tales: Discover the Northern Central Railway”

GFSP_MonktonTrainStation.pngThe Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail (TCB) follows 19.7 miles of the former Northern Central Railway (NCRR) in northern Baltimore County from Ashland, Maryland north to the Maryland-Pennsylvania line, passing through historic communities including Ashland, Phoenix, Monkton, White Hall, Bentley Springs and Freeland. Hikers, joggers, bicyclists, horseback riders and pets on leashes are welcome. The TCB is ADA accessible.

From a set of four character profiles, Questers will choose their own adventure to explore the history of the Northern Central Railway (NCRR) from the perspective of their historic figure. Periods of reflection and investigation into historical clues will be sprinkled throughout the Quest. This is a self-guided activity that will be supported with a worksheet the Questers should bring with them.

An Introduction to the History of the Railway

The Conductor Worksheet

The Merchant Worksheet

The Passenger Worksheet

The Trackwalker Worksheet

Segment of the Torrey C. Brown Rail TrailAs a self-guided activity, this Quest is available for families to complete all week, between sunrise and sunset. The TCB is surfaced, wide and fairly flat, which makes it accessible and also stroller-friendly. Pets on leashes are also welcome. Please remember to bring insect repellent, sunblock, and water. Wear comfortable boots or shoes for hiking and wear long-pants and long-sleeve shirts to protect yourself from ticks. Additional materials that are needed for each Quest are provided in the worksheets. Port-a-pots are available along the trail at Paper Mill, Sparks and White Hall; there is also a restroom facility in the Monkton Train Station located at 1820 Monkton Rd, Monkton, MD 21111. Please plan accordingly if beginning your Quest at Parkton, as there are no facilities in the vicinity. 

Character profiles include:

The Conductor: explore the NCRR from the perspective of the conductor, by participating in a 6-mile out-and-back bicycle ride, starting at Paper Mill and turning around at Sparks. The conductor was a railroad employee who was responsible for making sure the train stayed on schedule, ensuring the engineer followed safety practices, and performing customer service duties while on passenger trains. Questers will be tasked with arriving at Sparks at a time they predict based on an historic train time schedule, all the while stopping to answer questions based upon historic features found along the trail.

The Merchant: explore the NCRR from the perspective of the merchant, by participating in a 5-mile out-and-back bicycle ride, starting at Sparks and turning around at Corbett Road. Questers “graduate” from Sparks Agricultural High School, choose their farming occupation and figure out how to turn themselves into a successful merchant by capitalizing on the proximity of the NCRR.

The Passenger: explore the NCRR from the perspective of the passenger, by participating in an easy 1-mile out-and-back walk, starting at Parkton and turning around at a scenic overlook of Little Falls. As a passenger, Questers will have ample opportunity to reflect upon the natural scenery and challenge their inner artist to draw and color what they see around them.

The Trackwalker: explore the NCRR from the perspective of the trackwalker, by participating in an easy 1.5-mile out-and-back walk, starting at White Hall and turning around at Wilson Road. The trackwalker was a railroad employee whose job entailed walking 5 miles of track daily, ensuring the track was clear and fixing damaged mechanical features. Questers will assess trail conditions and solve problems in order to make sure the “tracks” are safe for the passage of trains. 


Contact Information

Monkton Station (open Wednesday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day and weekends only in September): 410-472-3144

Park Headquarters (open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., closed weekends and state holidays): 410-592-2897

Driving Directions

The Conductor: Paper Mill parking lot – take Route 45 (York Road) to Cockeysville. Turn east on Ashland Road for less than one mill, veering left as it turns into Paper Mill Road. Shortly thereafter, cross over the pedestrian walkway for the trail and make a left into the parking lot.

The Merchant: Sparks Bank Nature Center – take Route 45 (York Road) and turn east onto Sparks Road proceeding .7 of a mile to the parking lot, on the right. The physical address for Sparks Bank Nature Center is 1207 Sparks Rd, Sparks-Glencoe, MD 21152.

The Passenger: Parkton parking lot – take Route 45 (York Road) to Parkton. Turn west onto Frederick Road and park at 18858 Frederick Road, Parkton, MD 21120.

The Track Walker: White Hall parking lot – take Route 45 (York Road) and turn east on Wiseburg Road. Follow Wiseburg Road for 2 miles. At the three-way intersection, stay right to continue on Wiseburg Road. The parking lot is located beyond the maintenance complex, at the parking lot near the intersection of Wiseburg Road and White Hall Road. The physical address for the White Hall maintenance complex (adjacent to the parking lot) is 1349 Wiseburg Rd, White Hall, MD 21161.

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