Ellicott City has had a number of floods in its history with the most recent and one that many of us remember occurring in 1972 when Hurricane Agnes hit Maryland. The bridge that spans the road to the B&O Railroad station has high water marks on one of its supports. The Agnes flood shows the water at 14 ½ feet high above street level – higher than any of us on the ground. This flood destroyed the historic home of the Ellicott brothers and flooded much of the Main Street area. There is an even higher water mar from 1868 of 21 ½ feet above street level, which took out most of the town’s industry at the time.
The train station in Ellicott City dates back to 1830 when the town became the first stop outside of Baltimore. This B&O Railroad station still stands and is considered the oldest surviving railroad station in the United States; it is also a national historic landmark. Historically, the railroad is also famous for the race between the Tom Thumb, an iron engine, and a horse-drawn carriage in 1830 (the horse won!). Sitting beside the station is an old caboose that is fun for train lovers of all ages.
Ellicott City’s train station also played a role in the American Civil War, both in 1861 and 1864. Wounded Union soldiers were cared for in Ellicott City, then known as Ellicott’s Mills.
This is the store that I mentioned in the previous tip about Barry The Bubble Guy. It is really a fun place to visit. There are three stories stuffed full of strange and fun items. Everything from jewelry to bizarre hats and costumes to Christmas decorations. The owners and staff are very friendly. They even agree to pose for pictures if you ask. Its just a fun place to visit.
There are many older mansions in the city that help add a Gothic flavor to the surroundings. Although most are not actually haunted and are not on the Ghost tours of the city, they still add to the atmosphere of the surroundings. This old home sits on one of the many hillsides of Ellicott City almost inviting you to imagine or write your own Gothic romance novel.
Another well known haunted house is Mt. Ida.
The house was designed in the early 1800's and was built by the same person who built the buildings of the Female Institute. After passing from many owners the house eventually ended up belonging to the family of Judge John Snowden Tyson. He lived here with his wife Rachael until sometime in the 1870's. After their death the house was left to their children. There eldest son was killed in a tragic boat accident and the house was left to his three maiden sisters. All three lived in the house until the time of their death. The last sister to die was Ida Tyson. And it is thought by many that it is Ida's ghost who haunts the house today. The story continues that many who have lived in the house or have worked here have heard keys rattling and the boards on the floor creaked from some unknow spirit passing. Ida was known to have kept a ring of keys with her at all times. It is told she loved this old house and the spirit that roams here today is said to be a friendly spirit.
Today there are haunted house and ghost tours in Ellicott City. This house is a regular part of these tours. It makes a fun Halloween experience if you are in the area.
Although very elegant in appearance life a the institute was reported to be very harsh. The buildings were made of stone and are told to have been bitterly cold in the winter. There were no sanitary facilities in the institute so the girls used chamber pots. Its reported that colds and sickness spread amoung the girls during the wet and colder months and a number of the young women died from influenza and croup. One well known young woman wa Annie Van Derlot. She was the daughter of a rich southern planter and she was never happy at the school.She died from pneumonia her first winter. It is said her ghost haunts the grounds of the school today. She is reported roaming the classrooms and dorms of the school she hated. She wrote to her family and spoke terribly of the school. It has been said her ghost has been seen walking out of the front doors and down the stone steps before disappearing as it crosses the lawn. You can almost imagine her ghost walking in the picture here among the ruins.
The ruins are a historic park today and have been partially restored. The grounds are open for tours on the weekend in the spring and summer.
One of the most haunted places in Ellicott City is located High on a hill overlooking over looking the city. Here you will find the ruins of the Patapsco Female Institue. The school was one of the first female institues in the Southern United States and was officially opened in 1839. It is reported that the walls were constructed of yellow granite and there were huge columns supporting beautiful porches. There were large ballrooms with hardwood floors. And the windows were decorated with the finest tapestries. The school was built to attract the families of southern society as a finishing school for their daughters.
Ellicott City is not only a historic tourist attraction. It is also the county seat of Howard County. The Howard County Court House is located here as well as the sheriff's department and other county offices. On the hill overlooking the city you will find the courthouse. Just around the corner from the modern courthouse is this row of small houses from the colonial days of Ellicott City. They all house attorney's offices today. The first one here is the oldest attorney's office still in use in Maryland.
There are many steeples in Ellicott City. You can see them rising among the seven hills of the city. This one is an old Presbyterian Church. It has been abandoned for many years. It is now part of the Historical Society and is open on the weekends. Looking at the picture you can almost picture one of the Ellicott City ghosts roaming around the old building. Perhaps its the ghost of some bride looking for her groom. What was her fate? Did she make it to her wedding or is she still trying to get there today? You can imagine many stories as you walk through the streets and look at the old buildings in Ellicott City.
One of the first things you will see when you enter Ellicott City is Barry the Bubble Guy. Barry and his wife own a very unique store in Ellicott City. It is filled with wild costumes, new age type ornaments and every kind of ecletic collectable you can imagine. They even have a life size tembling moaning pirate on the third floor of their building that has been known to terrify small children. You can find Barry on the street in front of the store everyday. He has large plastic pans of soap and he makes giant bubbles for everyone passing by. He has a large supply of costumes so you never know what he will look like from day to day. I often think of him as I travel to work everyday on the commuter train. So many days I dread the commute and the daily grind. If I could just enjoy my day to day job as much as Barry the Bubble Guy life would be so much easier.
To me, Ellicott City is almost the center of many place. This means that traveling to other places from Ellicott City is pretty easy (with the exception of accidents on the highway or roadwork). So, you can do lots of things when you decide to live or visit Ellicott City. One of my favorite activites is taking a trip to Inner Harbor (in Baltimore).
In Inner Harbor, you can have many activities to choose from. You can go shopping. You can also go to the aquarium. There, you will experience lots of 'fishy' things and even enjoy a performance made by the dolphins and staff members. On the water of Inner Harbor, you can have boat rides. Another choice is going to the Science Center. There, you can watch movies with big screens. The exhibits in this center change every once in a while. Most of the exhibits (maybe all) have hands-on projects that you can participate while learning the concepts taught at the exhibits. There are lots more !!! Enjoy!!!!!!
Check out The Well. a community space for yoga and the healing arts!