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

Powering the Patapso Valley's Industries

Powering the Patapso Valley's Industries Marker image. Click for full size.
By F. Robby, July 1, 2008
1. Powering the Patapso Valley's Industries Marker
Inscription. 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
Millrace Remants image. Click for full size.
By F. Robby, July 1, 2008
2. Millrace Remants
outside the Patapsco Valley.
Erected by Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
Location. 39° 13.675′ N, 76° 43.3′ W. Marker is near Avalon, Maryland, in Baltimore County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Washington Boulevard (U.S. 1) and South Street. Click for map. Marker is within the Patapsco Valley State Park - Avalon area, on the northern side of the Patapsco River, just under 1 mile from the park gate building, and about 50 feet from the parking lot on path to the Avalon Visitor Center. Entrance to PVSP is about 300 feet north of the US 1 - South Street intersection. Marker is in this post office area: Halethorpe MD 21227, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Place For Progress (a few steps from this marker); Iron Builds America (a few steps from this marker); Forging Freedom and Nails (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Elkridge Landing (about 300 feet away); Drinking Water for the Public (about 400 feet away); The C.C.C. Builds Our Park (about 400 feet away); The Baltimore County Water and Electric Company (about 500 feet away); Site of Old Relay Station and Hotel (approx. 0.6 miles away but has been reported missing). Click for a list of all markers in Avalon.
Categories. Colonial EraIndustry & Commerce
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 794 times since then and 41 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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