Saturday, September 12, 2020

Ellicott City MD 100+ Historic Dry Laid Stone Retaining Wall Rebuild 2019

Those of you who have traveled to Historic Ellicott City know it well for two main reasons. One the flooding or two the shopping downtown. What many do not know is the vast history of the granite quarriers. When you begin to drive around you will see granite structures everywhere. The town is full of a single style of dry laid retaining walls throughout the town. It is unknown at this time any of the history, who built them or dating of the walls. I believe it was a single movement when they were constructed based on the patterns and style of the wall. If you know please share.

Many of these walls have failed due to improper building methods based on the tall faces without length in. Many have been removed or mortared due to the lack of understanding how to properly rebuild them. Until NOW! This video documents my findings in the removal and proper rebuild of the College Ave 2'-3' high roadside retaining wall. Originally built with Howard County Pink speckled granite. Which I believe predates the Baltimore County Blue speckled granite. Much of this original wall was rebuilt over time due to the invention of the automobile and there for running into the wall. I believe that the original road was only built for horse and buggy. As time went on the road widened. Due to the restrictions of the landscape and the current sizes of trucks and buses. Traffic flow there the tight twisty turns have caused many of the cars traveling uphill and crossing the line forcing vehicles coming down hill into the wall. Directly across the street were the townhomes site at the Boy's school is an additional small 2' high wall running the full length of the backyards. In the process of removal of the wall I found many of the face stones had been covered up with 100 years or road material such as asphalt. Some stones were buried over 17" below grade. The owners of the property were determined to preserve and restore this wonderful example of Historic Ellicott City's History. Countless phone calls, emails, years and time had been spent to bring this wall back to structurally sound condition without the need for maintatence for another 100-200 years. Ellicott City was the home of 2 granite quarries in the mid to late 1800. Many of the train bridges, churchs, street cobblestones, buildings and so much more were built from granite from Historic Ellicott City. The Baltimore County side was currently where the High gas station sites. The Howard county side quarry is back the railroad tracks from the B&O caboose. The restoration of phase 1 upper section 74' long on the College Ave took place in Fall 2019. With plans to complete the second lower section 76'+ Long in 2020-21 after receiving approval from the Historic Preservation Commission. For the walls along with the removal of 2 large trees. The Bureau of Highways Howard County DPW has been very proactive in facilitating the first Rebuild of Ellicott City's Granite Stone Walls. "Preserving America's Dry Laid Stone Structures 1 Stone At A Time." ~ Mark Jurus • Rockin Walls