Before the Park (1674-1896)
Native Americans have used this land for more than 5,000 years, leaving behind piles of oyster shell, along with shards of pottery and projectile points from the Lat Archaic (3,750BC-1,250BC) to the Woodland (1,250BC-1,600AD) periods.
In 1674, Joseph and Ann Symmons established a plantation on Rock Point, remanants of which are within the Park boundaries. Through the 18th and early 19th century, the land passed through many prominent families in the County, including the Hawkins, Burle's, Hammond's, and Hancock's.
Known as Rock Creek Farm by 1851, the Hancock Family farmed the land until 1896. Archeaological remnants of their dwelling have been identified on the Park.
Military Period (1869-1927)
In 1896, the U.S. Government acquired 100 acres of land at Rock Point and established a military garrison under the United States Coastal Artillery Corps known as Ft Smallwood. Named for Major General William Smallwood, a Revolutionary War veteran and former Maryland Governon, the military garrison was one of the four Endicott Period (1890-1910) fortifications built on the Patapsco River during the Spanish-American War (1890-1910).
Together with Forts Howard, Armistead, and Carroll, Ft Smallwood formed a network of fortifications to protect
Baltimore from perceived Imperialist threats by Spain. By 1927, the United States War Department decided that coastal defenses along the Patapsco River were unnecessary and the property was acquired by Baltimore City for use as a public park.