Home Existing Covered Bridges Bygone Covered Bridges Romantic Shelters About Covered Bridges Trusses News Links

Covered Bridge #2 & #3 at Ellicott's Mills/Ellicott City

Baltimore & Howard MD-03-09 #2x & MD-13-06 #2x Patapsco River Unk 1 120' 1866 1868
Baltimore & Howard MD-03-09 #3x & MD-13-06 #3x Patapsco River Howe 2 200' 1870 1914

Ellicott's Mills / Ellicott City Covered Bridge #2

The Patapsco River divides the counties of Baltimore and Howard. The Baltimore & Fredericktown Pike crossed the Patapsco connecting the south side of Baltimore County to the north side of Howard County at Ellicott City. (Ellicott City was Ellicott's Mills until 1867.)
The devastating flood of 1866 destroyed all of the bridges across the Patapsco River at Ellicott's Mills including the covered bridge on the Frederick Turnpike. A notice to bridge builders appeared in the Baltimore Sun on October 10, 1866:
PROPOSALS will be received to the 10th day of November, 1866, for the building of a WOODEN COVERED BRIDGE over the Patapsco river, at Ellicott's Mills, of one span, 120 feet, 20 feet wide in the clear. Also, for an IRON BRIDGE, same dimensions.
On July 24, 1868, Maryland endured one of the worst floods to ever hit the state. The overflowing Patapsco River flooded towns and businesses along its winding banks. The flood waters destroyed mills at Ellicott City and washed away the covered bridge crossing the Patapsco.¹
The Baltimore American reported on July 25, 1868: "About midday, the covered turnpike bridge at Ellicott City gave way with a thundering crash and the huge mass went whirling down the stream."
William Hollifield wrote about the loss of the bridge in the flood of 1868 in his book titled From Difficulties Made Easy-History of the Turnpikes of Baltimore City and County: "In September 1868, the Great Flood occurred. This swept away entirely the new bridge at Ellicotts and all the stone work and abutments were carried down the stream."

Ellicott's Mills / Ellicott City Covered Bridge #3

Covered Bridge #3 at Ellicott's Mills/Ellicott City Photo Gallery

(click photo to enlarge)

Ellicott City Bridge before 1909 Ellicott City Bridge 1909 Ellicott City Bridge after 1909 Ellicott City Bridge 1910 Ellicott City Bridge before 1914 Ellicott City Bridge 2005

Before 1909


After 1909


Before 1914


Ellicott City began a rebuilding process again after the 1868 flood. All of the bridges across the Patapsco had to be rebuilt. On August 18, 1868, the Baltimore Sun included a notice to bridge builders:
Proposals will be received up to August 19th for BUILDING A BRIDGE OVER THE PATAPSCO at ELLICOTT CITY, known as the Turnpike Bridge, of one span one hundred and eighty feet, also for bids of two spans of 90 feet each; also bids for the masonry."
A new covered bridge was completed in 1870. Then & Now, Ellicott City provides a brief history of the second covered bridge at the Pike:²
In 1868, the covered bridge over the Patapsco River was destroyed during a flood. A new bridge was constructed in 1870. Beside the trolley bridge, completed in 1899, it accommodated people and goods until June 7, 1914, when a lit cigarette carelessly tossed ignited a gasoline leak, causing the bridge to burst into flames.
The Howard County Times reported on the fire in an article on June 8, 1914:
Fire yesterday afternoon destroyed the old wooden covered bridge between Baltimore and Howard counties, leading from Grays to Ellicott City, causing an estimated loss of $20,000. The cause of the fire is unknown, but it is supposed to have started from gasoline which leaked from the tank of a passing automobile. Shortly before the flames were discovered by several persons in the vicinity of the burned structure an automobile was seen to pass through the bridge, followed closely by several young men in another machine, smoking cigarettes. It is thought that the tank of the first car dropped gasoline and the fire from a thrown cigarette ignited it. With a loud noise, as though an explosion had occurred, the bridge burst into flames.
All efforts to save the bridge were unsuccessful and the Baltimore section fell into the river. Nothing remains of the other half but the charred timber and abutments on the Howard County side. The burning of the bridge will cause much inconvenience to the residents of Ellicott City and the farmers of Howard, Montgomery and Frederick counties, who use the Frederick road to reach the city markets with their products. Until it is replaced they will have to drive many miles out of their course, either to Ilchester or Hollofields, to cross the river and reach the city.
The bridge was one of the few remaining of its kind in the state. It was constructed of white pine, with stone abutments reinforced with iron girders. It was erected in 1870 to take the place of the one which was washed down the Patapsco in the Ellicott City flood of 1868. The bridge sagged several years ago and an additional abutment was built beneath the centre.
An interesting article appeared in the Baltimore Sun on January 28, 1909 titled, "IMPROVING AN OLD BRIDGE:"
Ellicott City, Md., Jan. 27--The south side of the old covered bridge, facing the C.A. Gambrill Company's flour mills and spanning the Patapsco river a short distance below the Baltimore & Ohio station, is having the boarding which incloses it on that side removed. This is much needed improvement, enabling pedestrians and occupants of teams and automobiles to have a clear view either from the bridge or the turnpike. The present structure was built after the flood of 1868 and is a familiar landmark.
A State Roads Commission report of January 1916 described the bridge: "This structure was built of white pine timber, covered with a shingle roof and weatherboarded sides. It consisted of two spans each 100' long."³
The covered bridge was replaced by a concrete bridge. The new bridge crossed in almost the same location as the covered bridge. The angle the bridge crossed into Howard County was slightly revised. The concrete bridge was washed out during Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972. The current bridge was built in October 1972.

Be sure to visit web page for the first covered bridge over the Patapsco at Ellicott's Mills/Ellicott City.

¹ Henry K. Sharp, The Patapsco River Valley, Cradle of the Industrial Revolution in Maryland (Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore: 2001), p. 88.

² Janet Kusterer and Victoria Goeller, Then & Now, Ellicott City (Arcadia Publishing, Charleston SC, Chicago, IL, Portsmouth, NH, San Francisco, CA: 2006), p. 17.

³ Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Annual Reports of the State Roads Commission for the Years 1912, 1913, 1914 and 1915 to the General Assembly of Maryland (Baltimore: January 1916).

UPDATED 07/29/2010. More information provided in general about the bridges at Ellicott's Mills/Ellicott City. Bridge #2 added, built in 1866, lost in 1868 and bridge #3 added, built in 1870, lost in 1914.

Back to Bygone Covered Bridges

Maryland Covered Bridges
Email me: mdcoveredbridges@comcast.net