Daniels is a little known ghost town sprawled on both sides of the Patapsco River within the Patapsco River Valley State Park, which we’ve written about before (several times actually). The hike along the old road into Daniels on the Baltimore County side of the river is about a 4.5 mile there-and-back hike, with a brief there-and-back detour up to an old church included in the mileage.
Of all places, it seems as if Daniels SHOULD be haunted. The landscape all but screams spooky. There are stone ruins, forgotten foundations buried deep in the vegetation, derelict cars scattered around the valley slopes, a truck overturned in the river, and a hidden cemetery with multiple graves of children and babies who died between 1912 and 1919. It is a certifiably creepy place. And we were there to see whether it would be worth planning a nighttime ghost hunting expedition into Daniels.
Although the internet reveals nothing about potential hauntings in Daniels, if you’re lucky enough to find the right local — a former resident of the mill town or one of their descendents, perhaps — they’ll likely bend your ear a bit with some spooky stories about the forgotten mill town.
You may end up hearing about the ghosts of children who’ve drowned in the river or the dam, or hearing the mysterious disembodied screams of a woman who died tragically giving birth, or maybe they’ll mention the spectres of people killed in accidents at the mill — although in hind sight, of course, the stories sound more speculative and wishful than true.
Whether you’re looking for ghosts or simply want to check out the ghost town, the best time to explore Daniels is in the late fall and early winter, when the thick summer vegetation dies back a bit, revealing the forgotten foundations and detrius of human life now past.
We noticed a bright white bathtub along the side of the trail, which follows the old Alberton Road back into the ghost town. Alberton was one of the names of the town: the first was Elysville when it was founded in the 1820s, then came Alberton, and finally Daniels when the Daniels company purchased the entire town and the mills. It was Daniels when the mill ultimately shut down and the town abandoned, and that is what it’s known as still.
Me being me, I headed through the brush to photograph it and then, of course, remembered why we’d decided to hike into Daniels in the first place. So I slipped out the EMF reader and started holding it to the bathtub. And it flickered up to red a few times — so exciting!
I called over my companion and started asking questions. The EMF reader flickered up to red again once or twice, then stuck stubbornly at green. Lisa got out her dowsing rods and began asking questions. The rods crossed and we were hopeful! But the wind was blowing and we had to ensure that the wind wasn’t causing the movement. We asked a question, with the request to uncross the rods for yes. The rods stayed stubbornly crossed. We asked another, different question, again to uncross the rods. And another. Nothing.
|The ruins of the Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church, built originally
in the 1800s. It was struck by lightening and burned in September 1926.
We decided to move on, heading up the hill to the Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church. Again, as we scanned the area, the EMF reader flickered a few times, then it stayed stubbornly dark as we sat it on a tombstone, introduced ourselves and asked a question. Likewise, nothing with the dowsing rods.
We thanked whomever, if there even was a whomever, and moved over to the church itself. The EMF reader didn’t even flicker in the church for the scan, and it stayed stubbornly dark when I asked questions. We knew the battery was working just fine because it flickered merrily whenever I moved my phone near it.
As it turned out, the abandonment of Daniels was fortuitous and likely saved lives — the remnants of Hurricane Agnes, then a tropical storm, raged through the Patapsco Valley, destroying the remaining buildings, washing away a cemetery full of grave stones, and tossing cars and trucks around like matchbox cars.
Later the state of Maryland obtained the acreage and added it to Patapsco Valley State Park, further protecting the fragile river that runs through the park and through Daniels into the Chesapeake Bay.
We eventually continued our hike into Daniels and arrived at the pentacostal church and tried again. Again, a few flickers, apparently in response to our questions, and again, the dowsing rods seemingly moved, but again, perhaps in response to the breeze. We really didn’t find anything that encourages us to consider a nighttime expedition, which was the point of today’s paranormal exploration, truly a hunt for ghosts.
We left Daniels satisfied that we’d enjoyed a peaceful morning’s hike into the past. And as before, we reflected about the lives of those who’d lived in Daniels as we walked the old road out of the park. I wondered about their hopes and dreams, and I wondered whether their ghosts still lived in this forgotten ghost town.
To get a trail map of the Daniels area of PVSP, click here.
Getting there: The Daniels Area can be accessed off of Daniels Avenue, and also from Alberton Road (trail access only in this area). Take Route 40 West to the second light, which is Rogers Avenue. Turn Right. Follow Rogers Avenue to Old Frederick Road. Turn right. Then turn left onto Daniels Road.
To get to the Alberton Road trail into the ghost town, take US 29 north to the end, turn right onto Rogers Avenue. Follow Rogers to the roundabout, then turn left onto Old Frederick Road. Follow Old Frederick Road; eventually it turns into Holifield Road after it crosses the Patapsco River. Hollifield Road Ts at Dogwood Road. Turn left onto Dogwood, then almost immediately left on Alberton Road and the trail’s parking lot. The trailhead for the Alberton Road Trail into Daniels is hard to find, but click here for Google Maps directions.
Hours: dawn to dusk
Read about other visits to Daniels: