“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Catonsville in Baltimore County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)


Conquering the “Nine Mile Hill”

Oella Marker image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck, February 24, 2008
1. Oella Marker
Inscription. The Ellicott brothers constructed what became the first leg of the Baltimore and Frederick-Town Turnpike to get their flour to market in Baltimore. By 1787, they cut a new road east through the forests to shorten the trip to the city. This route became part of the National Road system in 1806.

Travelers on the turnpike faced a steep grade nine miles west of Baltimore. They had to conquer the hill using numerous switchbacks as they ascended from the Patapsco River Valley.

As the road passed the Oella tollhouse and descended into the valley, it reached the 1770s flour mill built by John and George Ellicott. Their first mill was where the large concrete structure now stands across the road. The nearby stone house was once the home of George Ellicott.

Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806)
African-American mathematician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker was a renowned man of science. Famous for helping the Ellicott brothers survey the site of the national capital in 1791 and corresponding with Thomas Jefferson, Banneker is pictured on the cover of his 1795 almanac. He lived in Oella and is remembered at the nearby Benjamin Banneker Historical Museum and Park.
Erected by America's Byways.
Marker series.
Oella Marker image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck, February 24, 2008
2. Oella Marker
This marker is included in the The Historic National Road marker series.
Location. 39° 16.067′ N, 76° 47.623′ W. Marker is near Catonsville, Maryland, in Baltimore County. Marker is on Historic National Road (Maryland Route 144), on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Ellicott City MD 21043, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Ellicott’s Mills (here, next to this marker); The George Ellicott House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Road Versus Rails (about 400 feet away); B&O Railroad Station (about 400 feet away); Old Stone Tavern House (about 500 feet away); The Phoenix Emporium (about 500 feet away); Hunt's General Store & Millinery Shop (about 600 feet away); John Williams House (about 700 feet away).
More about this marker. On the left is a photograph of the Oella Tollhouse: Travelers on the National Road passed the Oella tollhouse and gate (photographed around 1890) and took the “Nine Mile Hill” into Ellicott City. The mile marker is still standing and the old switchbacks are still visible on both sides of Frederick Road.

In the center is an illustration of Ellicott City: Ellicott’s Mills grew quickly into a thriving, industrial
Oella Marker with mills in the background image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Busta-Peck, February 24, 2008
3. Oella Marker with mills in the background
community. Many successful mills crowded the banks of the Patapsco River at the cascading fall line.

In the side bar is a portrait of Benjamin Banneker. The background of the marker is "National Road at Fairview Inn" which is the standard for markers in this series. An elevation diagram of the national road is displayed on the bottom of the marker's face.
Regarding Oella. It should be noted that Oella Avenue intersects with the National Road twice. The first time (if you are driving westbound) that it intersects with the National Road, there is a sign for the Benjamin Banneker Museum - this is not the location of the marker. The marker is located just before you cross the bridge over the Patapsco River into Historic Ellicott City.
Also see . . .  Oella: Conquering the Nine Mile Hill. PDF version of the marker. (Submitted on March 12, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio.) 
Categories. African AmericansIndustry & CommerceRoads & Vehicles
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. This page has been viewed 1,504 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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