Tue. Dec 11th, 2018

Warren, MD – A Forgotten Town Flooded by Baltimore City

Warren MD Loch Raven Town

One of the best images of Warren during the town's operation | Image Credit: Pinterest

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.

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 all that water in Loch Raven. 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 city of Warren, which was flooded when the Loch Raven dam height was raised by over 50 feet.

Loch Raven ruins warren
The bits of many leftover structures from the flooded city of Warren are peppered in the hills and woods surrounding the modern watershed | Image Credit: hiveminer.com

The Town of Warren, MD

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.

Warren MD Loch Raven Town
One of the best images of Warren during the town’s operation | Image Credit: Pinterest

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.

Warren MD Covered Bridge
Covered wooden bridge at the Warren Factory – The 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. catonsvi@bcpl.net
Warren Factory iron bridge 1922-1923: 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.
Warren Factory iron bridge 1922-1923: 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.

Warren Manufacturing Company store and Main Street, 1908
Warren Manufacturing Company store and Main Street, 1908 | Image Credit: Pinterest

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.

Glen Ellen Castle during its prime. The largest tower was about 63 ft tall. | Image Credit: Baltimore County Public Library
Glen Ellen Castle during its prime. The largest tower was about 63 ft tall. | Image Credit: Baltimore County Public Library

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. Think about the children who played in its streets and went to its school. Think about 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:

Maryland Covered Bridges

‘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.

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