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Number Nine Trolley LbNA #20718

Owner:wood thrush Contact Inactive
Plant date:Mar 5, 2006
City:Ellicott City
Found by: Charizard
Last found:Nov 14, 2023
Last edited:Aug 6, 2017
Driving directions. Find your way to historic Main Street in Ellicott City (Md. Rt. 144). Ellicott City is an old 18th century mill town that is home to many historic buildings, antique and specialty shops, good restaurants and taverns, and the oldest existing railroad station in the country, which is now the B&O Railroad Museum. After your letterbox walk, you may want to walk into town to shop, eat, or visit the museum.

If you are coming from the west, to orient yourself you’ll want to look for the museum on your right as you drive through town. Pass by it, and go under the railroad bridge, then across the Patapsco River bridge, and make your first left onto Oella Ave. If you are coming from the east, Oella Ave. is the last right turn before you cross the Patapsco River. The Trolley Stop Restaurant will be to your right, and just past it you’ll see Parking Lot A. Park there, it’s free.

About the Number Nine Trolley. The Number 9 trolley, also known as the Edmonson Avenue Local, has nothing to do with B&O railroad history! It was part of a local streetcar system that ran from 1898 to 1952, connecting Ellicott City with Catonsville, with a transfer there into Baltimore on the Number 14 line. The line was originally intended to stretch from Baltimore down to Washington, D.C. Instead, the terminus of the line never got any further than the Ellicott City Fire Station at Main Street and Fells Lane.

The trolley ran gradually uphill from Ellicott City to Catonsville along a private right-of-way. It is this path that is now the “Trolley Line #9 Trail.” The path runs from Oella Avenue, near the Patapsco River in Ellicott City, to the end of Edmondson Avenue at Chalfonte Drive in Catonsville.

To the letterbox. Find the stairs on the right side in the front of Parking Lot A, and climb them to the path that runs behind the Trolley Stop Restaurant. First walk a few short feet to your right, where you will see one of the instruments used in the NOAA flood warning system for the Patapsco River. [The Patapsco and its feeder rivers have not always treated historic Ellicott City kindly. The most recent huge flood was on July 30, 2016, when many buildings along Main Street were severely damaged and several people died during a torrential downpour. Back in 1972, when Hurricane Agnes wreaked havoc all over the Mid-Atlantic states, in Ellicott City the Patapsco rose to 14.5 feet above its banks. This wasn’t the worst flooding ever, though. In 1868 the river flooded to an astonishing 21.5 feet. You can see markers showing the heights of various floods on Main Street on the railroad bridge to the left of the B&O museum. Look way up on the bridge to see how high 21.5 feet is.]

Once you’ve admired the NOAA instruments, turn around and begin walking the path up the gradual hill. Soon you will see the very nice wooden sign announcing the Trolley Line #9 Trail (total length of the trail is 1.25 miles one way). Almost immediately you will find yourself walking on boardwalks through an impressive hand-hewn cut. The cut was made through 100 feet of rock especially for the trolley line.

Soon the trail winds through a beautiful wooded valley, following the Cooper Branch stream. There are many fine oaks, maples and beeches. You’ll see a bench on the right, across from a small waterfall. Continue on your way and you will pass a side trail that leads to the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum, the 18th century home and farmstead of America’s first black scientist. It’s definitely worth the half-mile detour if you have the time.

Continue on, and you will pass a fine old home with an old stone wall on a hill to your right. Shortly after this home you’ll come to a gate at a private road that crosses the trail, which you can easily pass around. Continue on the trail until you come to a safety barrier of nine short wood fence posts on the right hand side. From the last of the posts, take 16 steps. To your right you will see the remains of a large tree that fell across the main path. You can still see the chainsawed parts from when workers cleared the path laying next to it, too. Just past the tree is a little side path going up a small hill on the right. Take just a few steps up this path.

On the slope below you, heading down towards the Cooper Branch at 100 degrees, you will see a few beech trees. The one you want has a hole in the bottom and is about 25 steps from where you stand. You will need to do some minor bushwhacking down the slope to get there. (There was a path when I planted the box in 2006, but the large tree fell on it!) The box should be behind a rock in the hole, although sometimes it's just laying in there.

The trolley was yellow, so you might want to use that color ink. This can be a busy trail, so watch for others and use stealth.

When you’re finished, why not walk to the end of the trail? It’s less than a half mile ahead. You can stop for refreshments, if you like, at the cool bread place or Jay’s Country Store, which you’ll see to your left when you pass through the next gate. When you get to Edmondson Ave., you’ve completed the trail. Turn around and enjoy the nice gradual downhill walk to your car. We hope you’ve enjoyed the Number Nine Trolley.

Hike Length: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 300 feet