York & Joppa Roads

The area we now call Baltimore County is the ancestral land of the Piscataway and Susquehannock Indigenous peoples. York and Joppa Roads grew out of trails used by these people as they traveled through present-day Towson to hunt, fish, quarry stone, and trade. While the Piscataway continue to live in Maryland today, the Susquehannock were so reduced by both new diseases and pressure from the colonists that they ultimately joined Indigenous groups in Pennsylvania.

In this same period (1700-1775), Joppa Road was assuming importance to European settlers using it as the main road to Joppatowne, Maryland’s largest port at the time. As Baltimore gained population, its port superseded Joppatowne as the choice for shipping farm produce, tobacco, and manufactured goods. As trade and commerce grew, the importance of York and Joppa crossroads also grew, making Towson a welcome stopping place for rest and supplies for travelers. In fact, a weary George Washington traveled this way on his way home to Mt. Vernon during the Revolutionary War period.

This view of York Road, looking south, is from about 1909. The picture was taken near today’s Beltway intersection with York Road. Photo by E.T. Kenney. Photo courtesy of Baltimore County Public Library collection.

York & Joppa Roads - traffic circle

Turn right on Joppa Road and follow it to the access road to the theatre/restaurant complex (second right). As you approach the theater entrance, look for a small enclosed cemetery to the left (you won’t notice it unless you are actively looking, for it is largely hidden by greenery.)

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