“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)

Patapsco Superlative:

"The Premiere Flour"

Patapsco Superlative: Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By F. Robby, July 1, 2008
1. Patapsco Superlative: Marker
"Any Monday morning one could hear the beginnings of the stir of activity as the heavy machinery in the mill started to move, gather speed and settle into a steady rhythmic rumble which was maintained at the same rate day and night until five o'clock of the following Saturday." - Thomas Phillips, former mill employee.

The ruins before you are the remains of the Orange Grove flourmill of the C.A. Gambrills Manufacturing Company. Built as a modest gristmill in 1856, the mill became "the largest flour mill east of Minneapolis" by 1900. At its peak the mill produced between 1,200 to 1,500 barrels of flour a day.

Perched on a hillside between the B&O Railroad and the patapsco River, the factory complex was ultimately comprised of an eight-story grain elevator, a six-story mill and a powerhouse. The grain elevator stored wheat and used gravity to feed grain into the mill's "rollers." The rollers ground the wheat into flour. The flour was then "bolted" (or cleaned) and packed and loaded into boxcars.

Beginning in 1872, a stationary steam engine powered the mill. Railroad hopper cars dropped
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coal into the powerhouse through the shoot that is still visible at the top of the hill.

A fire destroyed the mill on May 1, 1905. In addition, most remnants of the mill were destroyed by Hurricane Agnes in 1972. All that is visible today are parts of the stone retaining walls.

Text with main photo: Sold throughout the U.S. and overseas through the late 1800s, the "Patapsco Superlative Patent" and "Orange Grove" brands were well known for the find quality and texture.

Text with lower middle photo: Mill workers lived in a small company owned community across the river and crossed the swinging bridge to reach the factory.

Text with lower right photo: The mill's 19 workers in 1900.
Erected by Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Bridges & ViaductsDisastersIndustry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars. In addition, it is included in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) series list. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1859.
Location. 39° 14.491′ N, 76° 44.948′ W. Marker is near Catonsville, Maryland, in Baltimore County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Washington
Mill Ruins image. Click for full size.
Photographed By F. Robby, July 1, 2008
2. Mill Ruins
The B&O railroad tracks are level with the top of this retaining wall that was once part of the mill structures.
Boulevard (U.S. 1) and South Street. Marker is within the Patapsco Valley State Park - Orange Grove area, on the northern side of the Patapsco River, about 2 miles from the park entrance, on the north side of the Swinging Bridge. Entrance to PVSP is about 300 feet north of the US 1 - South Street intersection near Elkridge. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Catonsville MD 21228, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Orange Grove: A Small Neighborly Community (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Back to Nature in the Patapsco Valley (about 300 feet away); Besley Demonstration Campsite (about 300 feet away); Building America's First Railroad (approx. ¼ mile away); The Destructive Power of the Patapsco (approx. 0.6 miles away); The River Makes Electricity (approx. ¾ mile away); The Changing River Valley (approx. one mile away); Bringing Trade to Baltimore (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Catonsville.
Swinging Bridge image. Click for full size.
Photographed By F. Robby, July 1, 2008
3. Swinging Bridge
River View from the Bridge image. Click for full size.
Photographed By F. Robby, July 1, 2008
4. River View from the Bridge
Credits. This page was last revised on February 1, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 6, 2008, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,142 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 6, 2008, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland.

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Feb. 29, 2024