When European settlers discovered the Patapsco Valley, they found a source of untamed beauty rich in resources. Susquehannock and Pscataway Indians hunted and fished the valley full of elk, black bear, bison, gray wolves and deer. The white settlers also saw the valley's fertile and iron rich soil, fast-flowing streams, and deep shipping channels that led to Chesapeake Bay and beyond.
Here emerged Maryland's industrial revolution. Beginning in the lat 1700s, the valley erupted into activity with iron, paper, grist (flour) and textile mills. Entrepreneurs dammed the river and diverted its flow to water wheels that turned machinery - grinding wheat into flour and hammering iron into tools.
The landscape changed - companies carved out factories and villages along the hollows and steep hillsides. Factory employees lived in modest homes built by the company and paid rent to their employer. The towns often included a company-owned store, school and church.
The area in which you are standing was the heart of an early 1800s iron-milling town. During the colonial period, raw pig iron was shipped from Elkridge to England in exchange for British-made products. As the American Revolution neared, America's infant industries began to make products to be used in America.
On this site Caleb Dorsey's iron forge made musket parts for the American militia, and the Ellicott's Avalon Iron & Nail Works made rails for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. These industries helped win America's independence and ignite Maryland's industrialization.
Text with main photo: Lithograph of the town of Avalon.
Text with middle left photo: Photo of Avalon Dam
Text with center photo: Rusted 19th Century nails. (Illustration by Brian Albrigth, 2006.Text with lower left photo: Photo of undeveloped river valley.
Text with lower right photo: Painting of Elkridge Landing.