Powering the Patapso Valley's Industries

Powering the Patapso Valley's Industries (HM5LE)

Location: Arbutus, MD 21227 Baltimore County
Country: United States of America

N 39° 13.675', W 76° 43.3'

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This inconspicuous ditch is a remnant of the Avalon millrace. Originally dug in the 1700s, it supplied water from the Patapsco River to Dorsey's Forge. The millrace later served the Avalon Iron & Nail Works and the Baltimore County Water & Electric Company.

Waterpower made the Patapsco Valley's industrial development possible. Mills and factories harnessed the river's waterpower by damming the river and channeling the water into a canal or "millrace." The millrace created a steady water flow that poured over a waterwheel or into a turbine. In a mill, the water whee turned a gear shaft that operated machinery.

At Avalon, waterpower was used to lift and lower a hammer that pounded pig iron into bars for nails and other implements. Waterpower also opened and closed a bellows in Dorsey's Forge. The bellows fanned air into the iron forge's fire, making it hotter.

More advanced facilities employed a millrace to provide water for a stationary steam engine.

Close proximity to the river left mills and factories exposed to seasonal floods. With the advent of electric power in the late 1800s, many companies found waterpower unnecessary. During the 1900s, most industries abandoned the river. Some businesses closed forever following a major fire or flood, while others built new facilities on higher ground outside the Patapsco Valley.
HM NumberHM5LE
Placed ByMaryland Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 1st, 2014 at 5:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 351392 N 4343481
Decimal Degrees39.22791667, -76.72166667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 13.675', W 76° 43.3'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 13' 40.50" N, 76° 43' 18.00" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)410, 443, 240
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 209-243 Gun Rd, Arbutus MD 21227, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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