Haunted Old Ellicott City

Whether you are an avid fan of the afterlife, fear even the friendliest of ghosts, or think it’s all a bunch of phooey, Ellicott City provides an excellent backdrop for a foray into the supernatural.  Ellicott City is considered by many to be the most haunted city in all of Maryland, if not the entire East Coast. The town, which was founded in 1772, has a longer history than most of the country, and has seen its fair share of tragedies that lend some credence to the presence of ghosts.  

The city is home to a Civil War graveyard, parts of which are believed to have been lost when moved to make room for buildings nearby. One of many ghost stories from the town is that of a Civil War Soldier who haunts those who visit the lower end of Main Street, as well as the ghost of a mechanic, named Al, whose garage had been one of those buildings built on the graveyard.  As businesses have come and gone, there have been many reports of sighting and experiences that range from the odd to the downright spooky.

The town is also thought to have been a hideaway for slaves seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad.  Ellicott City’s founders, Joseph, Andrew and John Ellicott, were Quakers and abolitionists. They opened a mill for wheat and other grains and persuaded local farmers not to plant tobacco, a crop that was heavily dependent on slaves. It is believed that some ghosts exist from deaths that occurred in and around Underground Railroad associated sites.  

Then there is the Patapsco Female Institute, an all girls school that was opened in 1834.  The site stil exists today, where you can walk among the ruins of the school. It is said that a girl named Annie died of pneumonia while attending the school, and remains on the site to haunt those who walk the areas of her classes and living quarters after dark.

Ellicott City is also known for its many floods, and the lives taken during them, from the Tiber, Hudson, and Patapsco Rivers that run through the town. Some believe that those who perished during the floods remain in the area to look after their homes. There are plenty of stores, restaurants and bars along Main Street that are considered haunted, each with their own stories to tell.  One such place, a local bar called The Judge’s Bench, has a ghost named Mary. It is reputed that Mary hung herself on the premises well before the building became a bar and has been known to taunt women who visit for a drink.

The history behind Ellicott City, and the ghosts that derive from it, is fascinating.  There are a few ways to learn more about this most haunted of cities. The Howard County Historical Society holds “Ye Haunted History of Olde Ellicott City” tours on Friday and Saturday nights from April through November and a “Spirits Haunted Pubs” tour on the 3rd Thursday of the month.  Visit http://hchsmd.org/events-tours/ for more information.