Mentally you can enter another time as you leave urbanization and the 21st century at the Park's gates. The Patapsco River Valley history covers times prior to, as well as after, the establishment of the Colony of Maryland. Just as the state park is hidden behind walls of urbanization, so too, is the Patapsco Valley's history. To discover the valley's past, one must be both a detective and an adventurer.
With the help of park maps, photos and a meeting with a park naturalist, you, your friends and family can ease into the discovery of Patapsco Valley history. To schedule a history orientation meeting or program call the Park Naturalist's Office at the Avalon Visitor Center located in the Avalon Area at 410-737-0451. The visitor center is open from April 1st - October 31st from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Program fees help fund the History Center.
Since most of the Valley's historic structures were destroyed during a number of catastrophic floods, your detective skills will be sharpened as you search for historic ruins. With the help of the Park's old photographs, exhibits and maps and your own exploration, you will be amazed as you discover numerous historic sites.
You will actually see the site of a former colonial deep water port for tall ships (Elkridge Landing - 1690); the world's largest multiple arched stone railroad bridge with an arc (Thomas Viaduct - 1835) is used daily; the site of Fort Dix - 1861, a strategic Civil War fort; one of the first hydroelectric dams with under water generators (Bloede's Dam - 1907) remains in place, but no longer generates; Maryland's first state park (Patapsco State Forest Reserve - 1907); the remains of Victor G. Bloede's Avalon Waterworks - 1910; and a Civilian Conservation Corps campsite (Camp Tydings - 1933).
The mill town sites of Avalon, Orange Grove, Elysville, Alberton and Daniels provided family homes for workers who forged iron implements and nails, or milled flower or textiles. Discovering mill town sites shows in some ways these villages live on to spite the floods and fires that have removed most evidence of their existence. Today these mill town sites provide opportunities for people to seek refreshment by recreating outdoors in a 94 year old forest that has been reclaimed from a cut-over and eroded watershed.
The Avalon Visitor Center located in the Avalon area is a great place to begin your study of the Patapsco River Valley. Exhibits, photographs and other reference materials are available from the Center's staff. All programs and research conducted at the History and Conservation Center are by appointment by calling 410-461-5005. The visitor center is open from April 1st through October 31st from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Park maps of the eight recreation areas and how to get around these areas are available from the Center, as well as from park headquarters in the Hollofield area, and at each entrance station. The park headquarters also offers the book The Patapsco - Baltimore's River Of History by Paul Travers for $22.95.
The Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park is the park's "Friends Group" that has been established as a 501(c)(3) non-for-profit, charitable foundation. Their purpose is to improve the Visitor Center and to help the park raise funds to improve trails and interpretive exhibits and programs. The Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park are looking for both volunteer members and financial tax exempt donations to further its causes. For further information contact the Visitor Center at 410-461-5005.
Park areas are west and south of Baltimore City, with headquarters in Howard County on Route 40 West at the Hollofield Area. In Baltimore, Howard, Carroll and Anne Arundel counties, Patapsco has five separate recreation areas: the Avalon/Glen Artney Area is reached via South Street from Route 1 in Elkridge; the Hilton Area is reached from Hilton Avenue, south of South Rolling Road in Catonsville; the Hollofield Area is adjacent to U.S. Route 40 near Ellicott City; the Pickall Area is reached by taking North Rolling Road to Fairbrook Road to Johnnycake Road; and the entrance to the McKeldin Area is off Marriottsville Road.
Patapsco Valley State Park8020 Baltimore National PikeEllicott City, MD 21043(410) 461-5005
580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis MD 21401