Howard Magazine - Page 8 - Welcome

Howard Magazine
- Page 8

Set squarely between the nation’s capital and Baltimore, Howard County is a well-blended mix of the bucolic, the urban and the suburban.


Spread out over 252 square miles are sights as diverse as a quaint historic district, high-tech research parks, a mall with more than 200 stores, parks with rivers and forests, a lakefront city center, fields dotted with livestock, three arts centers, two outdoor amphitheaters and two 14-screen movie theaters.


The county can boast of such accomplishments as having the first national railroad terminus and one of the largest planned cities in the country.


Demographically, the county is considered affluent, well-educated and diverse. With a population of about 321,000, Howard has a median household income of $115,000, the highest in the state and among the highest in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 60 percent of residents over 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher. And nearly half of residents identify as racial minorities.


The way we were


The county’s first settler, a Puritan named Adam Shipley, was granted a home near the Patapsco River in what is now Elkridge in 1687.


Farms, many planted with tobacco, sprouted along the rivers, and the county’s farmers became its leaders. The family of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, acquired 13,000 acres of fertile fields and forest in the early 1700s.


Once farms were established, mills for cotton, lumber and corn, and furnaces for iron dredged from the riverbanks were built. The Ellicott brothers, Quakers from Pennsylvania, arrived in 1772 with a mission to convert farmers from tobacco to wheat. They settled in a hollow on the Patapsco River and sparked a vast number of changes in the county.


Through their leadership, a road from Baltimore to Frederick was started — appropriately named Frederick Road. The Ellicott brothers also aided the beginning of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, with its first terminus in Ellicott City.


During the Civil War, Howard County sent its sons to both Confederate and Union armies, splitting families and communities. A portion of the Underground Railroad ran along U.S. 1 to Baltimore.


Heavily guarded by Union soldiers, the Thomas Viaduct Railroad Bridge in Elkridge served as part of the only rail line into Washington, D.C. In the late 1880s, the railroad brought the Bollman Truss Railroad Bridge, the sole surviving example of an evolutionary design in the history of American bridge