For hundreds of years before the arrival of European settlers, the area from the northern Chesapeake Bay up to New York was home to the aggressive Susquehannock native tribes. In 1600 the population was estimated as high as 7,000. By 1700 war (mostly among other warring tribes), disease and tribe dispersement had devastated the population to a few hundred. The last remaining Susquehannock people were killed in a 1763 massacre.
English Discovery and Settlement
In 1608 Captain John Smith (of Pocahontas fame) left the settlement at Jamestown, VA to explore the Chesapeake Bay. Exploring the many tributaries of the bay, he discovered several rivers such as the Elk, Susquehanna, North East and Sassafras Rivers. He named the Willoughby River after his birthplace in England (noted as Willowbyes Flu), now known as the Bush River. The Bush River is a 19 mile long tributary to the Chesapeake Bay that traverses the Gunpowder Neck and Bush Neck peninsulas.
In 1659 the area of Old Baltimore on the Bush River became the de facto county seat of Baltimore. In 1674 a formal authorization declared Old Baltimore (part of present day APG) as the county seat and a court house was built. In 1687 the Old Post Road was built, now known as Route 7 or Philadelphia Rd. With improved land transportation the county seat was moved to the Gunpowder River fork in Joppa. By 1709 Joppatowne, with a population of 300, became the county seat. In 1773 Harford County was formed by splitting Baltimore County, and the Baltimore County seat was moved to Baltimore City and Harford’s county seat was established in Bush, aka Harford Town.
The Bush Declaration was signed in 1775, setting a precedent for the 1776 Declaration of Independence. By 1782 the Harford County seat was moved to Bel Air. The historic Pooles Island Lighthouse was built in 1825 on Pooles Island at the mouth of the Gunpowder and Bush rivers (now part of Aberdeen Proving Ground).
A rail line was built through the area in 1835 (now Amtrak) which improved commerce for the local agricultural economy. A small village was built around the Edgewood train station consisting of small shops and houses. The nearby rail bridge crossing the Gunpowder River in Edgewood-Magnolia was burned during the Civil War in 1864 by the Confederate Major Harry Gilmor, a Baltimore native. The crossing was later rebuilt.
Modern History, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood Arsenal
Edgewood and Aberdeen were primarily rural agricultural areas until the early 20th century. World War I brought an urgent need for chemical warfare research, testing and manufacturing, and a suitable location was immediately sought. With an act of congress on October 20, 1917, the U.S. Government took possession of the Gunpower Neck and Bush Neck peninsula areas now known as Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG). Check out the sites below for more information about APG.
Around 1939-1940 Route 40 (Pulaski Hwy) was built through Edgewood. This brought about new development centered around the interstate highway. Restaurants, hotels and commercial interests sprung up. The new 4-lane highway, coupled with the huge war effort during WWII, helped make the Aberdeen Proving Ground base a major center of research & development and troop training. Many dwellings and housing developments were built for the influx of military personnel, some of which are still in use today. The post-WW2 years brought continued development and growth.
The growing population needed quality schools for their children. Many of Edgewood’s schools were built during the 1950’s to 1960’s, which made Edgewood a prime area for large residential developments and shopping areas. In 1963 Interstate 95 opened up just north of Edgewood and Emmorton, creating a new explosion of suburban development. Today much of the land area has been or is being developed into residential neighborhoods, shopping centers, industrial centers and business parks. With little regard given to historical preservation, the few remaining historical sites are concentrated on Old Edgewood Road with a scattering in other areas including APG.
information provided by: http://www.town.edgewood.md.us/