It is astonishing to me the amount of murder and mayhem a sleepy small town can endure over the years. The very haunted Ellicott City — once called Ellicott Mills — has seen more than its fair share.
Three brothers — John, Andrew and Joseph Ellicott — founded Ellicott Mills, as the village was then known, in 1771. The Ellicott brothers constructed sawmills, smithies, stables, an oil mill, a grain distillery, and grain mills. Soon, Ellicott Mills was one of the largest milling and manufacturing towns in the East.
Now this town, once a center of commerce for manufacturing and grain, offers a variety of antique stores, eclectic boutiques, restaurants and taverns. And did I mention ghosts?
Union troops camped there; Confederate prisoners of war and casualties streamed through, carried by the rail line. The Friends Quaker Cemetery holds the remains of some of those Confederates. Criminals were executed at Willow Grove Jail until after 1900, not to mention a few lynchings…
All this has left buildings and scenery ripe with hauntings and reports of the paranormal. In fact, haunted Ellicott City is the most haunted town in America — although many other towns claim that honor as well.
Haunted Ellicott City’s Main Street
Like most ghost tours, this one offers a little bit of local history, a lot of old fashioned storytelling,and almost no scary. The ghost tours (there are several to chose from) take about an hour, more or less.
By the way, the local establishments cheerfully play along with the ghost tours. While we were standing outside one bar, the wait staff flickered the lights on and off, almost on cue. We all laughed nervously in response. (It was the wait staff, right?)
But you hear cool tidbits of local history. Did you know that during the Civil War, U.S. soldiers held Confederate prisoners of war in one of the buildings? When the next train rolled in, the soldiers would put them on the train to be shipped off to one of the prison camps?
One such Confederate is now a local ghost. He made the dubious decision to escape down a steep, narrow stone flight of stairs between two buildings. The Confederate soldiers’ pursuers gunned him down. His body tumbled the rest of the way down. Supposedly you can still hear his footsteps running, the sound of his boots echoing down the steps, and then his body slowly thudding down to rest near the street. Personally, I’m glad there’s no need for me to ever climb or descend those stairs.
The Confederate ghost is a residual haunting, versus an intelligent haunting, which would be a ghost that can interact with the living. But there were some of those mentioned during the tour, including a dinner guest ghost and the ghosts at Kaplans Department Store.
Haunted Ellicott City and Mount Misery
The hill which is now Ellicott City’s Court Avenue was once called Mount Misery. Why would anyone call a place “Mount Misery”? Why it had such a dreary name is lost to history. But 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. During the tour, you’ll visit the spooky old jail, the ruins of an old girls school and haunted mansions.
As you stroll the dark streets, you’ll hear about the humming ghost that haunts the old Presbyterian Church, the cooking ghost of Oaklawn, the cleaning ghost of Mount Ida and the smoking ghost of the Patapsco Female Institute. Watch out for the horseless carriage that drives along Church Road. And don’t mind if you do stop in for a bite at the ghastly dinner party at the Old Manse.
Know Before You Go
There’s ample parking behind the building at 8267 Main Street in Lot D, but that fills up quickly, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. There’s also parking lots across the street. Recommend trying first Parking Lot F at 8390-8398 Frederick Road. Especially for the Mount Misery ghost tour, there’s also parking in the Court House parking lot. Best suggestion: go early and enjoy dinner before your ghost walk.
Getting there: 8267 Main Street, Ellicott City MD in the historical district. Parking behind the building.
Hours: April – November, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 p.m.; fee required.
Website: Ghost Tours of Ellicott City
For other haunted places in Maryland, check out the articles below:
- Admiral Fell Inn
- Annapolis Ghost Tour
- B&O Railroad Station Museum
- Belmont Manor
- Cockey’s Tavern
- Daniels Ghost Town / Patapsco Valley State Park
- Essex Fire/Police Station
- Furnace Town
- Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick
- Patapsco Female Institute
- Savage Mill
- Waverly Mansion
If you can’t get enough ghosts, check out all the places MidAtlantic DayTrips has visited!