Where You Should Go to See Ruins in the Mid-Atlantic

Because all but one of these sites are in Maryland. I am challenging myself over the next year to find some good daytrips to ruins or ghost towns OUTSIDE of Maryland! By the way, I don’t do breaking and entering, so I’m not into sneaking into abandoned asylums or hospitals. If it’s fenced off and posted no trespassing, I don’t go there. Even beyond the whole legal/law abiding aspects, that’s the way horror movies start!

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for places to check out.

7. Harpers Ferry

On the hill above Harpers Ferry are picturesque ruins of an old church. Very pretty, in a great setting, and part of an overall fun place to spend a day. Plus, right across the river at Maryland Heights (yes, in Maryland) are the spooky ruins of an old lockkeepers’ house.

6. Smith Island
Not only one of my favorite day trips, Smith Island is an interesting place to see houses slowly falling into ruin — sad, really, since these homes represent a way of life that is fast disappearing. The most I did to “explore” was to timidly creep up to the windows and peer in, when I dared; these homes are all on private property. But very photographable. These ruins are unique in that they’re old, abandoned wood frame homes — not the stone ruins featured in the other six entries on this list.

5. C & O Canal
And I’m not talking about the canal itself, or the locks, although the aqueducts are kind of cool — it’s the lockkeepers houses and the scattered mills and other similar buildings that you can encounter along the trail that make the 184 miles of the C & O Canal a go-to place to see ruins. In addition to Maryland Heights, opposite Harpers Ferry, pictured above, the section between Hancock and Fort Frederick offers the ruins below, as well as what’s left of one of the aqueducts.

4. The Western Maryland Rail Trail
Ironically, because when you’re biking, the last thing you’re expecting are ruins. But the portion of the WMRT west of Hancock offers up the remains of several old farm houses (located on private property) as well as the remains of a cement factory (located between the C & O Canal and the WMRT). East of Hancock: a forgotten cemetery sleeps peacefully (we hope) along the trail.

3. Patapsco River Valley State Park
There are old stone houses — or their remains — scattered throughout the park, which I’ve encountered on various hikes. In the Avalon/Orange Grove area, along the Grist Mill Trail, there are the remnants of several mills. The park is teeming with ruins, making this unique park one of the best places to go find the unexpected!

2. Patapsco Female Institute
These are gorgeous ruins — lovely to look at, not creepy at all. Worth a visit, especially if you enjoy playing around with photography. Cool angles and aspects.

1. Daniels, Maryland’s Ghost Town
Although Daniels is also in the Patapsco River Valley State Park, it’s worth its own mention, mostly because the ruins are also kind of creepy; the creepiness focuses, at least for the friends we went with, on the Pentecostal Holiness Church, or what’s left of it. Worth exploring, especially, and for me the least creepy and most picturesque part of Daniels, is what’s left of Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church and the cemetery behind it (okay, so the cemetery is a little creepy, especially the row of children’s graves, but that’s more of a sad creepy rather than a scary creepy). Overall, Daniels is an intriguing, mysterious, and very cool place to explore — and I’ve noticed it keeps drawing me. I’ve visited it in both fall and winter, so far, and both are interesting times of the year to visit.

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Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I’d love to hear what you’re doing! Email daytripgal@gmail.com if you’re interested in being a guest-blogger!