Old Harford Road

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Old Harford Road
Route information
Maintained by Baltimore DOT and Baltimore County
Length: 5.3 mi (8.5 km)
Major junctions
South end: MD 147 in Hamilton, Baltimore City
North end: The Charles Hickey School in Cub Hill, Maryland
Counties: City of Baltimore and Baltimore County
Highway system
County Roads in City of Baltimore and Baltimore County

Old Harford Road, one of the oldest continuously-used rights-of-way in central Maryland, United States, is a southwest-northeast thoroughfare in northeast Baltimore and eastern Baltimore County.

Present-day Old Harford Road begins in the 6000 block of Harford Road in the Hamilton section of Baltimore City and continues nearly 5½ miles northeast through the Parkville and Carney areas of Baltimore County to near the Big Gunpowder Falls north of Cub Hill. Old Harford Road serves as an alternate route to both Harford Road (Maryland Route 147) and Perring Parkway (Maryland Route 41), and carries between 10,000 and 16,500 vehicles per day. Old Harford Road, like Harford County, was named for Henry Harford (1758–1834), the son of Frederick Calvert, 6th Lord Baltimore, and the last Proprietary of Maryland prior to the American Revolutionary War.


Old Harford Road follows a curving path along relatively high land bordering streams that feed the upper Chesapeake Bay, including Chinquapin Run. This suggests its likely origin as an Indian trail that subsequently was adopted by settlers to convey farm products from northeastern Baltimore County, Harford County, and southern Pennsylvania to the port of Baltimore in the late 18th century.

The name "Old Harford Road" appears on area maps dating to at least 1850 (see, for example, map display in the Meeting Room of the Baltimore County Public Library in Towson, Maryland). In particular, the 1850 J. C. Sidney map[1] indicates that today's Satyr Hill Road, Cromwell Bridge Road north of Satyr Hill, and Glen Arm Roads collectively were known as Old Harford Road. Four sections of the Sidney map, annotated to highlight the location of today's Old Harford Road with respect to area roads of today, and with respect to the Old Harford Road of 1850, are provided below. Nineteenth century deeds to two notable properties in the area, obtained by Baltimore County historian John W. McGrain, substantiate Sidney's depiction of Old Harford Road. The "Shanklin House" (or "Forest Hall"), once located at present-day 8906 Satyr Hill Road, and "Serendipity," on present-day Glen Arm Road, north of Glen View, are both listed as being located on "The Old Harford Road." The Shanklin House once served as a tavern, and its 1845 deed notes that the property was located on "the well-traveled main road."

The Old in Old Harford Road most likely dates to the period shortly after the completion of the Harford Turnpike by private road-building interests in 1816. Harford Turnpike, now known as Harford Road (Maryland Route 147), was constructed as a more direct route between present-day Mt. Vista Road and what became the Hamilton section of Baltimore (i.e., to today's intersection of Harford and Old Harford Roads). Further evidence that today's Cromwell Bridge and Glen Arm Roads comprise part of the original Old Harford Road is provided by the 1829 edition of the Laws of the Maryland General Assembly; Chapter 224 describes the construction of a county roadway (likely today's Cub Hill Road) that was to extend from "...the Old Harford Road near Cromwell's Bridge (Gunpowder Falls) to the Harford Turnpike".[2] A complicating bit of information regarding the use of the moniker "Old," however, is provided by a genealogical reference[3] to a tavern that was said to have been located on Old Harford Road "near the Long Green Valley" around 1776. Why the prefix "Old" would have been used at that early date is uncertain. If the reference is accurate, it could reflect that a displacement of the original Harford Road right-of-way already had been made prior to the construction of the Harford Turnpike in 1816.

While the name "Old Harford" may be traced with certainty to only the first third of the nineteenth century, the right-of-way itself is older. For example, the 1794 map of Maryland by Dennis Griffith (shown below) depicts a thoroughfare extending northeast from the central part of Baltimore City into Harford County, Maryland. This road is distinct from nearby roads that evolved into parts of today's Belair Road (U.S. Route 1), Philadelphia Road (Maryland Route 7), and York Road (Maryland Route 45). The shape and orientation of the unnamed right-of-way, in part, bears close resemblance to today's Old Harford Road. Anthony Finley's 1824 map of Maryland, schematically depicts a route of travel extending north-northeast from Baltimore City to the Coopstown area of Harford County (near today's Jarrettsville, Maryland). Subsequent editions of his map and others show the route extending farther northeast to the Susquehanna River near McCall's Ferry, Pennsylvania (likely incorporating parts of today's Long Green Pike and Pleasantville Road; e.g., see the 1856 Thomas Cowperthwait and Company map shown below).

In 1921, on the part of Old Harford Road that by that time had come to be known as Glen Arm Road, what generally is accepted to be the nation's first train-actuated railroad crossing signal was installed at the crossing of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad in the community of Glen Arm. The signal device was designed and installed by the short line railroad's noteworthy Superintendent of Signals, Charles Adler, Jr. The approach of a train activated a double stop sign that turned toward the road twenty seconds before the arrival of a train. Adler later designed early traffic-actuated traffic lights for the City of Baltimore, and also invented the system of flashing warning lights used on aircraft.[4]

Development along the Old Harford Road of today and that of the past mirrored that which occurred along other major roads in the area. From the late 18th century through much of the following one, "development" consisted primarily of the estates of merchants and other wealthy individuals of Baltimore. For example, the estates of both Revolutionary War hero General Samuel Smith, and Baltimore benefactor Johns Hopkins were located on that part of today's Harford Road near Hillen Road. Interspersed between these and other, lesser gentleman estates were the truck farms that supplied fruit, vegetables, and dairy products to Baltimore city. The term "truck" referred to the fact that the farm products quickly had to be moved to avoid spoilage.[5] By the late 1800s, truck farming had come to dominate growth and development patterns in the region. Villages arose along (Old) Harford Road as well as along the nearby York, Belair, and Philadelphia Roads to support the growing needs of the farmers. Beginning with the extension of streetcar service from Herring Run to Hamilton in 1898, and its subsequent extension to Carney in 1904, the southernmost portions of Old Harford Road saw development as a "streetcar suburb" during the first three decades of the 20th century. The earliest of these were situated on acre or near acre-size lots. But by the 1920s, developers subdivided the truck farms and other larger properties into smaller lots, onto which were built many "bungalow"-style homes that were within easy walking distance of the extended streetcar line. Such construction spread as far north along Old Harford as the Harford Park community near Taylor Avenue (see http://www.harfordpark.org/). The next major surge in development occurred in the two decades following World War II. During this period, much of the remainder of today's Old Harford Road experienced the post-war building boom in the form of moderately-priced ranch and two story homes (see images below). A limited amount of modern "in-fill" construction continues today north of Joppa Road in Carney (e.g., the "Old Harford Ridge" subdivision near Proctor Lane).

Although present-day Old Harford Road never has been part of the Maryland State Highway system, rapid suburban development throughout the Parkville-Carney area following World War II brought substantial traffic increases to the city- and county-maintained road. In particular, completion of the nearby Parkville High School and Perring Plaza Shopping Center spurred increases in the late 1950s and early 1960s, respectively. Major improvements (including widening, resurfacing and construction of curbs/sewers) occurred over various segments in the following years: 1971 (north of Joppa Road), 1972 (north of Taylor Avenue), 1975 (north of Proctor Lane), 1979 (intersection with Joppa Road), 1981 (near Summit Avenue), 1984 (Northern Parkway to Alvarado Square), 1990 (Satyr Hill Road to Joppa Road), and 2000-2001 (Taylor Avenue to Putty Hill Avenue). Construction of an overpass at the Baltimore Beltway (Interstate 695) in 1961 resulted in relocation of the roadway about 300 feet (91 m) west of the original right-of-way. This reconstruction also eliminated an existing "y" intersection with Satyr Hill Road. The relationship of present-day Old Harford Road with neighboring streets and highways is depicted in the sectional Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) map shown below.

SHA is currently widening Interstate 695 Baltimore Beltway between Perring Parkway and Harford Road. This project includes replacement of the Old Harford Road - Interstate 695 overpass. The new bridge is under construction at this time and when completed will accommodate three lanes of traffic: one through lane in each direction, and a third for left turns from Old Harford onto Satyr Hill Road. The bridge also will provide shoulders for bicycle use and sidewalks. Old Harford Road is scheduled to remain open during the re-construction, and the new bridge began carrying traffic on 1 June 2016. The overall Beltway project will, however, not be completed until summer 2017. More information is available on the SHA web site at <http://apps.roads.maryland.gov/WebProjectLifeCycle/ProjectInformation.aspx?projectno=BA458513>.

Mass transit[edit]

At present, no scheduled, public transportation exists along Old Harford Road. However, for more than 30 years, two branches of the Maryland Transit Administration's Route 19 bus line operated along parts of Old Harford Road. The 19A line, introduced in 1973, originated at the Carney Park-and-Ride lot at the intersection of Harford Road (Maryland Route 147) and Joppa Road. This line replaced a route originated by the former McMahon Transportation Service Company. Like its predecessor, the line followed Old Harford Road from Cub Hill Road south to Moore Avenue/Oakleigh Road, before continuing to downtown Baltimore via Taylor Avenue, Burke Avenue, Stevenson Lane, and Charles Street. The express-type service included single morning and evening trips. The line was renamed Route 105 in 2000 before being discontinued due to low ridership in 2005.

Another branch of Route 19, referred to as the "Joppa Heights" line, operated along Old Harford Road between Taylor Avenue and Satyr Hill Road. It was introduced in early 1976 and enjoyed moderate ridership in its earlier years, providing service between the Joppa Road/Perring Plaza shopping areas and downtown Baltimore several times a day. This route, however, also suffered declining ridership in more recent years, and was discontinued in 2009.

Points of interest[edit]

Several sites of historical interest exist along Old Harford Road. The first four have been placed on the Baltimore County Landmarks List and include:

  • The 19th century Krause lime kiln near Summit Avenue (image below). The stone arch kiln burned wood to generate heat for the pulverization of limestone into lime. This process took two to three days, and lime obtained from the kiln was used to reduce soil acidity of area vegetable farms. The kiln was restored by the County in 1979 and is now part of Krause Memorial Park.[6]
  • The 1860 Pine Grove School. This one-room school house at the southeast corner of Old Harford and Cub Hill Roads was sold in 1939 and is now a private residence.[7]
  • The Federal-style Cub Hill House at 9301 Old Harford Road (just north of Summit Ave; image below). This late 18th century - early 19th century stone structure was once the center of Cub Hill Farm, complete with blacksmith and wheelwright shops, greenhouses and tenant houses. In the mid-19th century a wooden addition (no longer existent) at the west end of the house served as a general store and as the Cub Hill Post Office. The Cub Hill land grant of which Cub Hill Farm was a part dates to the late 17th century. The farm gradually shrank from about 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) to just 50 acres (200,000 m2) when the last owners to farm it (the Macklins) sold it for development in 1952. Cub Hill House and 2 acres (8,100 m2) of the farm have been owned by the Old family since that time.[8]
  • The Shanklin-Carroll-Longbottom homestead just south of Waldor Drive. The land grant of which the home is a part dates to 1695. In 1845, 50 acres (200,000 m2) of the original 500-acre (2.0 km2) tract known as "Bear Neck" was purchased by John Wesley Shanklin. Shanklin enlarged the original home, believed to have been built in the early 19th century, and operated a general store.[9]
  • The superstructure of one of the Maryland State Forest Service's former network of fire lookout towers (image below). The tower, at 9405 Old Harford Road, Cub Hill, is located at one of the highest points in eastern Baltimore County (484 feet above sea level). The 125-foot (38 m) tower, built in the 1930s, has not been used for lookout purposes since 1972. The tower also once served as a relay link in the first generation microwave communication network built by the Western Union Telegraph Company shortly after World War II for testing the long-distance transmission of television programs; documentation of that network appears in an appendix to the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) report prepared by David S. Rotenstein for the National Park Service in 2006 (see <http://blog.historian4hire.net/2010/12/22/cub-hill/>). The structure is now used for other communication purposes. The tower and its surrounding grounds also serve as an ecological and atmospheric research facility of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service; carbon dioxide (CO2), ozone (O3), and ultraviolet (UV) radiation are monitored at the site see <http://fluxnet.ornl.gov/site/944> and <http://www.umbc.edu/ges/student_projects/Cubhill/Cub%20Hill%20Web%20Page/cubhill_homepage.html>.[10]
  • The Maryland State Training School For Boys. This facility, now known as The Charles H. Hickey School after a former Baltimore County sheriff, originated as a house of refuge in southwest Baltimore. It moved to its present location at the north end of Old Harford Road in 1910, and contains several buildings displaying what might be termed "early 20th century institutional" architecture. In recent years the facility has been the subject of various proposals for conversion to other uses. (See http://www.djs.state.md.us/hickey-school.asp).
  • The Parkville Precinct (#8) of the Baltimore County Police Department, 8532 Old Harford Road (at southwest corner with Putty Hill Avenue), since October 1954. In August 2007 a new 17,000-square-foot (1,600 m2) facility was dedicated at the same location <http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/police/history.html>.
  • The Parkville station (#10) of the Baltimore County Fire Department (at southwest corner with Putty Hill Avenue), since October 1954. In September 2005 the station occupied a brand-new facility adjacent to the Parkville police department. Until the late 1950s, Putty Hill Avenue (then known as Putty Hill Road) did not extend west of Old Harford Road; an existing dead-end street known as "Miller Avenue" was consumed by Putty Hill's extension west of Old Harford Road around 1960.

Numerous places of worship, schools, and business areas are located on Old Harford Road. These include (listed from south to north):

  • Hamilton Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (at intersection with Harford Road and Glenmore Avenue)
  • Calvary Tabernacle (north of Harford Road). Until 1983, the Tabernacle was housed in an 1874 structure on the same site that, for many years, served as Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church (image below)[11]
  • Christ and Country Church (at Roselawn Avenue)
  • Hamilton Elementary School (at Christopher Avenue)
  • Hamilton Assembly of God Church (near Pinewood Avenue)
  • Calvary Lutheran Church and School (at Northern Parkway)
  • Putty Hill Shopping Center (at Putty Hill Avenue)
  • Morningside House (nursing facility; at Lakewood Road)
  • Harford Hills Elementary School (near Joppa Road)
  • Atonement Lutheran Church (south of Proctor Lane)
  • Pine Grove Middle School (at Proctor Lane)
  • Saint Isaac Jogues Roman Catholic Church (north of Proctor Lane)
  • Loch Raven Lutheran Church (south of Summit Avenue)

In popular culture[edit]

  • Laura Lippman, in her 1999 book, In Big Trouble, A Tess Monaghan Novel, mentions Old Harford Road on page 180, along with Old Frederick and Old York Roads, stating that while these routes "...weren't the fastest routes to their namesakes, they were always more interesting than the interstates..."
  • Marla Streb, world champion bicycle racer, in her 2005 book, Bicycling Magazine's Century Training Program: 100 Days to 100 Miles, mentions Old Harford Road on several pages describing rides near her parent's home.

Major intersections[edit]

Major intersections with commercial and/or institutional development along Old Harford Road include (listed south to north):

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ [4]
  6. ^ [5]
  7. ^ [6]
  8. ^ [7]
  9. ^ [8]
  10. ^ [9]
  11. ^ [11]

1. "The City and County of Baltimore, Maryland." Map from surveys of J. C. Sidney (civil engineer) and P. J. Browne. Baltimore: James M. Stephen, publisher, 1850.
2. Laws of the State Of Maryland (1829), Chapter 224. Annapolis: Jonas Green.

3. Klett, J. R., 1996: Genealogies of New Jersey families: From the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co.

4. Hilton, G. W. (1999). The Ma & Pa: A History of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 248 pp.
5. Holcomb, E. L. (2005). The City as Suburb: A History of Northeast Baltimore Since 1660. Santa Fe: Center for American Places, 266 pp.
6. Adams, S (1982). "Living A Landmark," The (Parkville) Reporter (Patuxent Publishing Company), 3 November 1982, pp. 1, 16-18.
7. Northeast Baltimore County Historical Committee, and Rosedale Federal Savings and Loan Assoc. (1989). "A Trip Into The Past", p. 6.
8. Adams, S. (1982): Op. cit.
9. Ibid.
10. Chamblee, A (1982). "New Life For Old Tower," The (Parkville) Reporter (Patuxent Publishing Company), 15 September 1982.
11. Corso, G (1990). "Calvary Tabernacle Buys Hamilton's Equitable Bank Building," Herald Gazette, May 1990, pp. 1 and 11.

External links[edit]