It is astonishing to me the amount of murder and mayhem a sleepy small town can endure over the years. Ellicott City — once called Ellicott Mills — has seen more than its fair share.
A town important enough in the 1800s to have America’s first railroad track connecting it to Baltimore (just 13 miles away), the town was a major manufacturing center, the location of a girls finishing school, and the county’s court house.
Union troops camped there; Confederate prisoners of war and casualties streamed through, carried by the rail line. Some Confederate soldiers are still buried in the Friends Quaker Cemetery. Criminals were executed at Willow Grove Jail until after 1900.
All this has left buildings and scenery ripe with hauntings and reports of the paranormal.
The hill which is now Ellicott City’s Court Avenue was once called Mount Misery. Although why it was given such a dreary name is lost to history, as you enjoy the ghost walk, you start to understand why the name is apt.
The Mount Misery Ghost Walk starts at the Howard County Historical Society Museum, housed in the First Presbyterian Church on Court Avenue. It takes you up the hill overlooking the town and visits sites like the old jail,; Mt. Ida, still possibly inhabited by its namesake; the Patapsco Female Institute; the Weir building (a former Quaker school house); and the Hayden House.
Watch out for the horseless carriage that drives along Church Road and stop in for a bite at the ghastly dinner party at the Old Manse. Along the way you’ll learn about past inhabitants of this historic mill town — one of the oldest, most haunted towns in America.
Getting there: 8328 Court Avenue, Ellicott City, MD
Hours: Friday evenings, 8:30 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance.