The Zone Scores Again – Little Gunpowder Falls


You may recall my fortunate conversation with that charming new neighbor some time ago that resulted in my discovery of The ZONE Magazine. This led to my first attempt at a blog. There also came from that encounter, Gift From The Zone, my tale of a trip down the Big Gunpowder Falls from it’s humble origins in the ZONE to it’s union with a lesser neighbor, the Little Gunpowder Falls, and then hence their passage to the outer world.

Well, someone asked me recently if I knew where the Little Gunpowder Falls has her origins.  I told them no, not exactly,  but it started the wheels turning and I began searching. I have never given it too much thought, always just assumed that she began up in Harford County somewhere.  Now I find, according to geological surveys and other “official”  information and much to my delight, she is another gift of the Hereford Zone.

It seems, the watershed area that drains east and contributes the most to her birth begins around Troyer Road and Hunter Mill Road in the Hereford Zone and slopes to the east. Almost from her inception, she is the divider between Baltimore County and Harford County and her first brush with a town is nearby Jacksonville, the big bedroom community of thousands who leave it each day to fulfill their destinies in Towson and Baltimore.

The Little Gunpowder then picks up her life’s waters from many small streams in the area and winds her way through farmlands and woods  in Sweet Air and then past the intersection of small shops and the Post Office in nearby Baldwin.  She then meanders past Fork, about a mile from her sparkling waters, on her way to the bustling town of Kingsville where she glides past the Old Jerusalem Mill that dates back to 1772 and was one of 8 built along the Little Gunpowder for the grinding of grain into flour.  It was rescued and returned to its original glory to become the Headquarters of Gunpowder Falls State Park and pending adequate funds, an entire Colonial Village is being restored around the Mill.  There is even a small “gun factory” on the Little Gunpowder behind the Mill that made guns for the Maryland Militia during the Revolutionary War. Just below the Mill, she passes under the Jericho Road covered bridge one of the few left in the State. Half of the bridge belongs to Harford  County and the other half to Baltimore County.

Another thing worth mentioning here is fishing. Every spring the Department of Natural Resources releases thousands of trout into various rivers in the state and The Little Gunpowder Falls is one of them.  From the Baldwin area south to around the Jerusalem Mill, is one of the “hot spots” for fly fishermen.  These are adult fish and may be kept when caught, according to the limit imposed by current regulations.

Starting to pick up speed as she heads to her destiny with the sea, The Little Gunpowder Falls skirts past Franklinville, an old mill town on her banks. The mill itself, began as the Jericho Gristmill around 1772 and was then converted to a cotton mill.  The mill, operating as a plastic parts factory as recently a few decades ago, is now silent and in need of attention.  The town of Franklinville  is a one street town built on a hill, 167 feet above the level of the river and many original houses have been restored.  Just below the mill, the river passes under the Franklinville Steel Bridge, a one-car–width steel structure that was recently restored and is of Historical significance, having been manufactured off-site and transported to its location on the river.

The last “town” that she passes on the path to her rendezvous is Bradshaw, which in addition to having the distinction of being my birthplace, was the site of a train station, elaborate for its’ time, on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad line.  Here, people from all over Baltimore and Harford Counties would come to book passage on one of the railroads new  passenger trains. Some of them would be go south to Baltimore or Washington D.C. and perhaps some were going north,  maybe to Philadelphia or New York or even as far away as Boston.

As she flows past Bradshaw, the Little Gunpowder Falls passes Day’s Cove, where Mr. Day built his mansion to overlook the Gunpowder River. From that point on she mingles with her mightier partner the Big Gunpowder Falls to form the tidal Gunpowder River which takes  them both to the Chesapeake Bay and then down the Bay past Virginia and from there, out into the vast Atlantic Ocean.

Another important  contribution to the world from that place we all know and love The Hereford Zone.

Don Langrehr

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4 Responses to The Zone Scores Again – Little Gunpowder Falls

  1. Mike says:

    Great article that reminds me of all the times we swam in the “Little Falls” just off Franklinville road.

  2. Keith says:

    Once again a little history I didn’t know. And thanks for reminding me how fortunate we were to grow up in such a beautiful area.

  3. Brett says:

    Great story of the Little Gunpowder Falls. Your stories of our area are so informative of local history. Thanks!

  4. Robin says:

    So glad the river valley land is public and is still available for all of us to enjoy today. Thanks to the forward thinkers that came before us!

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