Gwynns Falls Leakin Park

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Gwynns Falls - Leakin Park
aka Leakin Park or Gwynns Falls Park
Orianda Mansion ("Crimea")
Orianda Mansion ("Crimea") in Gwynns Falls-Leakin Park
Location Baltimore, Maryland
Coordinates 39°18′23″N 76°41′27″W / 39.30639°N 76.69083°W / 39.30639; -76.69083Coordinates: 39°18′23″N 76°41′27″W / 39.30639°N 76.69083°W / 39.30639; -76.69083
Area 1,216 acres[1]
Created 1908
Operated by Baltimore City Department of Parks and Recreation

The adjoining Gwynns Falls Park and Leakin Park, generally referred to as "Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park," cover 1,216 acres[1] of contiguous parkland, the most extensive park in Baltimore, Maryland. Unlike the other large urban parks in Baltimore city, such as Druid Hill, Patterson, Clifton, Carroll, and Bay-Brook--which have tree cover but open meadows and mowed lawns inbetween--Gwynns Falls-Leakin is a "wilderness", heavily forested and largely left in its natural state, like Herring Run (to a lesser extent). Baltimore City's Department of Recreation and Parks operates Gwynns Falls and Leakin as a single park, beginning at the western edge of the city, following the Gwynns Falls stream from Windsor Mill Road (northwest) to Wilkens Avenue (southeast).[2][3]

Franklintown Road serves as the main vehicular route through the park, as a continuation of Dogwood Road from the Baltimore County suburb of Woodlawn. It exits the park near West Lafayette Avenue further into the city. At one point, according to initial Federal, State and City transportation agencies had planned since the early 1960's that Interstate 70 from the West was to continue from its current eastern terminus at the Security Boulevard/Cooks Lane interchange and run towards an intersection with Interstate 95, which runs from the northeast to southwest through the City, but was canceled due to heavy sustained local opposition during the late 1960'sto its proposed routing through the Gwynns Falls Valley and the Park.

Although surrounded by an urban environment, some areas of the park are so heavily wooded that they give the impression of wilderness. Portions of the 1999 horror film, The Blair Witch Project, were filmed here.[4]


Gwynns Falls Park[edit]

The properties which eventually became Gwynns Falls Park started with a small parcel of land southwest of Edmondson Avenue, selected by the Baltimore City government in 1901 to serve as a park, anticipating the needs of a growing population. In their plan for the "Greater Baltimore Public Grounds," prepared for the Baltimore Municipal Arts Society in 1904, the Olmsted Brothers recommended acquiring land along the Gwynns Falls for a stream valley park.[2][5]

Gwynns Falls Park was established by the City of Baltimore in 1908 with the addition of other properties to the land purchased in 1901.[3]

Leakin Park[edit]

A bequest from J. Wilson Leakin in 1922 provided funding for a 300 acre addition to the park, purchased as two parcels in 1941 and 1948 from the descendants of Thomas de Kay Winans (1820–1878). A stipulation of the bequest required the city to name this portion of the park for Leakin's grandfather, Shepard A. Leakin.[2][3][6]

The property purchased from the Winans family was previously known as the Crimea. Thomas Winans named his Baltimore property after the Crimean peninsula in Russia.[4] In 1856, Winans built a villa on the property, which he called the Orianda House. His villa continues to stand in Leakin Park, at 1901 Eagle Drive.[6]

The parks are included in the Baltimore National Heritage Area.[7]

Pipeline plans[edit]

Plans to build a two-mile-long gas pipeline through a heavily wooded section of the park were questioned by the Friends of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park organization in September 2013. The pipeline will replace an aging pipeline originally installed in 1949 along Dead Run, a tributary of Gwynns Falls.[8]

Initially, Baltimore Gas & Electric Company planned a replacement line running mostly along the park's southern border. An alternative suggestion would move more of the line to the southern border at the neighborhood of West Hills. Either route will require extensive clearing of trees that are more than 100 years old, because the new pipeline requires a 40-foot wide access corridor to be kept clear of trees.[8]

Running the pipeline along the existing route would involve a serious environmental impact, due to its proximity to Dead Run. This alternative also involves extensive clearing, because the new pipe must be located at least 75 feet from the old line to satisfy safety requirements. The access corridor along the old pipeline is only 26 feet wide.[8]

Notable features[edit]

Chesapeake & Allegheny Live Steamers at Bell-Slayton Station in Gwynns Falls Leakin Park
  • Carrie Murray Nature Center
  • Chesapeake & Allegheny Live Steamers, a miniature steam-powered railroad with 3,400 feet of track, provides free rides every second Sunday, April through November.[9]
  • Gwynns Falls Trail, 14 miles of hiking and biking trails
  • Orianda Mansion, former summer home of Thomas Winans
  • Crimea estate chapel and herb gardens
  • Ben Cardin Picnic Grove and Pavilion, named for Benjamin Cardin
  • Western Cemetery

Activities and events[edit]

  • Baltimore Herb Festival, held annually in May.
  • Carrie Murray Bug Fest, held annually in September at the Carrie Murray Nature Center.


  1. ^ a b "About Carrie Murray Nature Center". Friends of Carerie Murray Nature Center. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "History of the Park" Friends of Gwynns Falls Leakin Park. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
  3. ^ a b c "Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park". City of Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Evan Balkan (2006). 60 Hikes within 60 Miles. "Leakin Park", pp 60-64. Menasha Ridge Press. ISBN 9780897326230.
  5. ^ "Trail Info" Gwynns Falls Trail Council. Retrieved 2010-09-29.
  6. ^ a b The Orianda House. Friends of the Orianda House (March 2010). Retrieved 2010-09-30.
  7. ^ "Baltimore National Heritage Area Map". City of Baltimore. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c Timothy B. Wheeler (September 26, 2013). "Park pipeline stirs furor". The Baltimore Sun. p. 1. 
  9. ^ Chesapeake & Allegheny Live Steamers. Chesapeake & Allegheny Stream Preservation Society (September 7, 2010).

External links[edit]