Like most people who grew up in Baltimore County, I was a regular visitor to the Loch Raven Reservoir. Fishing, hiking, bird-watching, and feeding the area’s resident Canadian Geese are all on the menu.
What I didn’t know is that when I was visiting the reservoir, I was also visiting the town of Warren, Maryland.
Loch Raven’s Mysteries
Like most wilderness areas, Loch Raven has its share of legends and stories. Among them are various Bigfoot sightings, ghosts, and even a long history of UFO sightings.
When I was younger, friends used to say that there was a town under Loch Raven Reservoir. A town that had been flooded when the Gunpowder river was dammed up. As it turns out… that legend is true!
Loch Raven’s Ruins
Anyone who’s hiked or mountain biked the areas in the immediate vicinity is familiar with the area’s assortment of old buildings in ruins. What most of them don’t know is that these ruins are the remains of the town of Warren MD which was flooded when the Loch Raven dam height was raised by over 50 feet.
The Town of Warren Maryland
In 1920, Warren was one of the most productive and vibrant towns in Baltimore County. By 1922 it had been leveled and flooded under 45 feet of water.
The town was owned by the Summerfield Baldwins who ran the Warren Manufacturing Company. The town had 900 residents who ran 2 mills. Warren was a major textile producer and an industrial hub for Baltimore County.
That all changed in 1922 when the City of Baltimore purchased the town in order to flood the property to increase the size of the reservoir. The nearby town of Phoenix, MD was also sold but was eventually spared of flooding and still exists today.
The Warren Cotton Mill shut down on February 15, 1922, and by the end of that same year, the town was gone.
This covered bridge was destroyed in an 1895 flood. This image is part of the collection of historic photographs of Catonsville, Maryland USA owned by the Baltimore County Public Library, 1100 Frederick Road, Catonsville Maryland 21228 USA. 410-887-0951. [email protected]
This bridge was built in place of the covered bridge that was destroyed in an 1895 flood. This image is part of the collection of historic photographs of Baltimore County, Maryland USA owned by the Baltimore County Public Library, Towson Maryland USA.
Life in Warren wasn’t unlike life in other manufacturing towns at the turn of the century. The majority of the town’s residents were also the employees. Travelling far from home was a rarity.
The town had a school, church, homes, shops, and it’s own Main Street. A resident might spend the majority of their life inside the town or in close proximity.
There Was Even a Castle!
Believe it or not, there really was a castle. The Glen Ellen estate wasn’t flooded out by the reservoir, but the property was abandoned and quickly declined after the flood. It was eventually demolished.
Looking at those old pictures makes me kind of sad. Warren may have become an even more important town to the area had it not been flooded out. The fact that it’s existence seems to be all but forgotten is disappointing.
So if you live in Baltimore County, the next time you visit Loch Raven think about what used to be there in the town of Warren. It’s pretty intriguing to think about the children who played in its streets and went to its school, the people who lived out their lives in its factories, and the families who prayed in its church.
There really is a town under all that water – even if it barely exists in our collective memory.
References and additional reading:
‘Poems of Warren’ tells story of town lost under waters of Loch Raven Reservoir
Hidden Histories of Baltimore County
The Loch Raven Castle – A brief history
Sharif Jameel is a business owner, IT professional, runner, & musician. His professional certifications include CASP, Sec+, Net+, MCSA, & ITIL and others. He's also the guitar player for the Baltimore-based cover band, Liquifaction.
11 thoughts on “Warren Maryland – A Forgotten Town Flooded by Baltimore City”
There was also the B&O railroad just adjacent. I go there everyday. Think about it. On the Mason-Dixon Line, cotton manufacture co.
Could there have been a conflict between the North and the South over the cotton which was the main money maker for the south and the railroad for the North supply line?
Any truth to the stories that this town was populated with a lot of Black Folk?
Based on what I researched, I found no indication that the town was any less diverse than the rest of the state.
And my parents lived in Baldwin Estates in Baldwin, MD. Never knew!!!!!!
Yup, a lot of people who live in the area never knew about it.
Wow. Love that you investigated this. Awesome.! I grew up in Loch Raven, graduated from LR High. My father always told me stories about this town. Also showed me a spot where … He said we could see the tippy top of the poor drowned church. I remember the spot , one day I’ll have to go out and look to see with my adult eyes. Lol. Neat stuff. Have a wonderful day.
Thanks for reading my article about Warren 🙂 From what I have read, the last visible piece of Warren was a flagpole that was still above the water but that’s been gone for a long time now.
Warren was the home of my father and grandparents.
That’s awesome, it’s so nice to hear people who know some of the history of Warren in their family records. Thanks for stopping by and reading!
Looking at repeated problems from rains in Ellicott City, another town in a canyon, I suspect Warren might’ve had periodic problems long term. Incidentally the house I live in in Hydes was once owned by H Street Baldwin an influential politician
Thanks for reading my article. I totally agree. I’m sure any town like Warren in a low-lying area would have flooding issues but right now in Maryland it seems like we’re in uncharted territory as far as record rainfall and flash flooding is concerned.