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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

History of Ellicott City in water and stone

   This past weekend I took a tour of Ellicott City sponsored by Baltimore Heritage and led by Ned Tillman.  I have read some on the history of Ellicott City and the importance of the town with the flour mill that the Ellicott brothers set up on the Patapsco River in Oella.  While not the original mill there is still a flour mill on the site to this day and shown below.

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   So why was Ellicott City the location of the mill?  It has to do with the fall line for water running into the Chesapeake Bay.  Ships coming up the Bay and the Patapsco could only come this far before running into the rapids on the Patapsco.  In the early history of Maryland, beginning in the 1630's, tobacco was grown in the coastal tidewater area of the Eastern Shore.  As the land was stripped of the nutrients to grow tobacco the farmers began to move to the Western Shore of the Bay to grow the tobacco.  The Ellicott brothers moved here from the Philadelphia area to build a flour mill and to convince the local farmers to switch from growing tobacco to wheat.  The Carroll family was one of the most instrumental family farms to make this switch.
     In addition to the water being a means of transportation it also provided the energy needed to mill the wheat using water power.  Water power was what industry used before electricity.
     Most of use realize how the two streams, Tiber and Hudson, run under Ellicott City businesses and flow into the Patapsco at Ellicott City.  The views of these streams are below.

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    With the frequent flooding of the Patapsco River Ellicott City has had to survive some major floods.  The high water marks of some of the floods are shown on the railroad post below.

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    The other natural resource that has impacted the development of Ellicott City is granite.  As seen below granite is abundant thought Ellicott City.

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   This granite was used in many of the early buildings in Ellicott City and shipped around the East Coast by the railroads that moved through the area.

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The picture below shows an example of an early log cabin built in the area and a granite house that replaced the wood structures.

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