Loch Raven Reservoir - Glen Ellen Castle Hike (Pic heavy)

Discussion in 'Maryland' started by Crazysanman, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. Crazysanman

    Crazysanman Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    I live near the Loch Raven Reservoir, which is a 1600 acre land tract featuring a large reservoir that supplies water to Baltimore City. The reservoir is surrounded by woods and is open to hiking, horseback riding, nature photography, bird watching, fishing, and bow hunting for deer. Mountain biking is allowed on designated trails. It's a green oasis in the middle of suburbia, and is my go-to spot when I need a quick dirt fix.

    The reservoir was originally a hilly area which the Gunpowder River flowed through. in 1881, a dam was built to create the reservoir. This flooded the river valley, and several homes and businesses were flooded, as well as an entire town. In 1921 a bigger dam was built just upstream of the little dam, and this held much more water, which flooded much of the area to 80 feet deep. Many structures up in the hills were allowed to remain after the little dam was built but were either flooded or forced to close down after the big dam was constructed. Glen Ellen Castle was one such structure.

    Glen Ellen Castle was built in 1833. It was a three-story early Gothic Revival mansion that had towers on three corners. It was meant to resemble Abbotsford, a Scottish castle owned by Sir Walter Scott. Robert Gilmor III, the castle's owner, hired Alexander Jackson Davis, a famous American architect, who traveled from New York to Baltimore to oversee the project. Glen Ellen had a guest house built to look like a Greek temple and a gatehouse that was designed to look like a Gothic ruin. The entire project cost Gilmor about $175,000, which converted to today's dollars would equal about $1.8 million.

    In the 90 or so years that Glen Ellen was inhabited, the home looked out on farmlands and a valley which was cut by a small creek connected to the Gunpowder River. By 1900, the growing city of Baltimore needed more water, and the city began to focus on the lands surrounding Glen Ellen. When the large dam was built in 1921, the reservoir was up to the front yard of Glen Ellen. What appears as a hill on an old map of the property became an island, and many of the outer buildings were covered by water.

    For a time the city, which had purchased the property before the damming, considered using the mansion as a resort for poor women from Baltimore. But the building couldn't have a septic system because it was so close to the water, so Glen Ellen went unused and began to decay. During Prohibition, a still was set up in the building, and Glen Ellen started to become a problem for the city. So in 1929, after much of its lumber was removed, Glen Ellen was dynamited to the ground.

    Today my son and I hiked to the ruins of Glen Ellen and collected walnuts from the large walnut trees on the castle grounds. The trees are large and old, and much more numerous here than in the woods surrounding the estate. They were most likely planted there by the inhabitants of the castle, or at least I like to think so.

    Here is the start of the hike. Some of the trails are old roads, and bikes are allowed on many of them. This area of the Loch Raven Reservoir Watershed has a lot of very large, noble trees. The trees here are some of the largest I've seen in Maryland. Baltimore was once the world's leader for ship building and as a result much of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and what is now West Virginia were clear cut, so we don't have a lot of large, old growth trees in the state. But back here, where there were once large, well-groomed estates, there are some giants (by Maryland standards). I really became awakened to the size of trees when I visited the Giant Sequoia Groves in California. Even the pine trees there are massive! Nothing like that in the mid-Atlantic.

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    Some Virginia Creeper

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    Poor little guy didn't make it. So it goes.

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    I grabbed a geocache on the way to the castle.

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    One of the large trees. This maple is about six feet in diameter, huge by Maryland standards.

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    (Cont'd)
     
  2. Crazysanman

    Crazysanman Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    We had a LOT of rain this past weekend so a lot of the trail was muddy. I checked for animal tracks and found a few.

    White tail deer
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    Dog
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    Coyote
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    There were hickory nuts everywhere

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    That's a lot of fungus!
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    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  3. Crazysanman

    Crazysanman Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    We found this large boulder and climbed to the top of it to take a break and drink some tea. The rock was about 15 feet tall and we had a nice view of the area and a creek below.

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    I got this stove for Christmas but never used it until today. It's a tiny titanium Esbit stove.
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    I found what I thought was tinder fungus and I saw in one of Iz's videos where he got it to light with a ferro rod. This one wouldn't light so it either wasn't true tinder fungus or it was too damp.
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    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  4. Crazysanman

    Crazysanman Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    Water views

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    This is the queen of all widow makers! Half a tree trunk hanging by one branch on one branch of another tree

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    A majestic American Beech

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    These two trees grew apart from each other for a period. Weird.

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    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  5. Crazysanman

    Crazysanman Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    Here is what the Glen Ellen Castle looked like when it was standing (pictures are from the Baltimore County Public Library)

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    The main tower was 63' tall

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    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  6. Crazysanman

    Crazysanman Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    Here are pictures of it in decay, again from the Baltimore County Public Library:

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  7. Crazysanman

    Crazysanman Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    Today, just the foundation remains.

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  8. Crazysanman

    Crazysanman Supporter Supporter Bushclass II

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    These two trees are growing through a slab of marble that is believed to have been the main entryway to the house.

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  9. Crazysanman

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    This is the view from the water. You can see the raised area where the house stood

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    View of the water from the house:

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    Looking up at the big walnut trees

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    Our harvest:

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    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  10. Crazysanman

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    Gear shot! I carried a Polish bread bag, my boy uses the Finn gas mask bag

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    Old gnarly trees

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    This is standing on the far right of the house foundation and looking straight through the house to the far left side.
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    We saw a deer on the way out
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    Hiking home

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    Thanks for looking!
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
  11. Crazysanman

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    A few more pics of the ruins:

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    This 15' deep pit was the foundation of a spring house, where milk was stored

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    This was once the road to the house

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  12. Crazysanman

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  13. docterusa

    docterusa Scout

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    That was great... Thank you for sharing...
     
  14. MakeDo

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    Awesome trip and great history! Knowing the background really adds to the experience. Thanks for putting this up!
     
  15. schechr

    schechr Wizard Supporter

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    thank you...great post and historical background and the captioned pictures tell a great story.
     
  16. Sgt. Mac

    Sgt. Mac Elder

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    Looks like a very cool place with lots of history
     
  17. HeadyBrew

    HeadyBrew Fully vaccinated Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Cool trip and report. It fascinates me to see such grand homes that were once cherished by the wealthy and eventually left to rot. We have so much of that sort of thing around here in WNY from when Buffalo was actually an up and coming city at the turn of the late 1800's and early 1900's. Just a bit sad. Anyways, great pics!
     
  18. Crazysanman

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    There are a lot of buildings like this around the reservoir. I plan on doing more posts like this one to highlight some of the other areas back in these woods. I ended up hiking 7.5 miles for this one, so it was a nice day trip!
     
  19. OutdoorEnvy

    OutdoorEnvy Guide

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    Those kinds of places are neat. It's weird to look at what it is now compared to it's finest day. Glad you got out for a bit
     
  20. eyesky31

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    Now THAT was a great adventure!
     
  21. renter6

    renter6 Guide

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    How did I miss this post?! Looks like a really nice area, I'll try to get up there when I have a day free. Thanks for posting about its attractions!
     
  22. Boreal Boy

    Boreal Boy Guide

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    That was excellent! I love exploring the wilderness and history, so the two together make for a great adventure . Thanks for sharing the history of your area, must be an interesting feeling while sitting there having your tea thinking off all that has transpired on that site over the years and yet now, it is almost all but forgotten! great job!!!
     
  23. Jack S

    Jack S Tinder Gatherer

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    Great adventure. The photo links are currently dead. :-(

    I have some additional info about the Gilmor family that may be of interest to others here, with a brief detour into mid-19th century Maryland politics: Robert Gilmor had a son, named Harry. The Gimor estate had all the usual things that estates in Maryland at that time had, including slaves. When succession of the southern states occurred (starting winter 1860/61), the Maryland gov't declined to go. However, many of it's scions from prominent land (and slave) holding families went south and joined the Confederate Army. Harry was no exception. (There were two notable and interesting exceptions in this immediate area, but that is a bit off topic. A Ridgely from Hampton Mansion/Plantation and John "Ex Parte" Merriman)

    So Harry became a Confederate cavalry officer, eventually reaching Lt Col. He rode with Jub Early at the Battle of Monocacy, and then splitting off from the main body with about 100 men (which moved down I-270 to attack DC), he invaded his homeland. In 3 or 4 days, he and his men stopped at home, he went to his favorite bar in nearby Towson to have a beer, captured a Union General, burned a RR bridge, wrecked two trains, cut telegraph wires, etc, etc. Baltimorians expected to be under siege or to be captured, which terrorized some residents and thrilled others.

    He wrote about his adventures in MD and elsewhere (mostly Virginia, which in his mind, still included WV) in a book called Four Years in the Saddle. He mentions a lot of people, including the ANV high command, Custer, other Union officers and many civilians, some of which assisted him and his men. Because of the uncertainty at the time 1867, he refers to people that helped him as say, Mary B_____ or James G____. A good read, even though it has some amount of self aggrandizement.

    TOU prohibit promoting products that I am selling. I don't sell books, I am not involved at any level of the publishing industry. I make NO commission on the sale of this book.

    Harry went on to become Baltimore Police Commissioner (or possibly the position was called Police Marshall at that time), dying in 1883 and buried in the "Confederate section" at Loudon Park Cemetery, which is now at the edge of Baltimore City, but outside the city at the time.
     

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