The Stony Run watershed encompasses a number of old and historic neighborhoods.
The Stony Run is a part of a large freshwater system that extends into several neighborhoods, even in places where the water does not surface. This region, called the watershed, refers to all of the towns and neighborhoods where water drains from the land into the stream.
At the stream’s southern end, it connects to the Jones Falls River, which traverses past Druid Lake toward the harbor. Remington lies in the space where the Stony Run is buried and joined with the larger Jones Falls. Just north of Remington is Johns Hopkins’ Homewood campus, where the stream flows openly through Wyman Park. Here, the stream sits between Hampden (on the Western side) and a combination of Tuscany-Canterbury and Guilford (on the Eastern side).
A buried tributary of the Stony Run flows underneath Guilford and specifically under the depths of Sherwood Gardens, where, years ago, a lake existed as evidence of the Stony Run’s tributary path. North of Wyman Park, the stream runs under W. University Parkway and emerges visibly again in the neighborhood of Keswick. Here the stream runs freely and is accompanied by a trail that runs all the way from Tuscany-Canterbury up through Wyndhurst.
The stream itself splits into two right where the Bolton Street Synagogue lies. The Eastern tributary, departing from the synagogue, is buried underneath parts of Loyola University’s campus and then emerges again in Homeland on Springlake Way, where the duck ponds sit. Radnor-Winston and Mid-Govans flank the Eastern border of the watershed, where the stream’s remnants have been thoroughly buried. Finally, we reach the Northern end of the stream and its watershed, where the Orchards—a neighborhood just north of Wyndhurst—is situated.
The history of the watershed as we know it begins 440 million years ago when two volcanic islands collided.
This tectonic event, known as the Taconic Orogeny, also caused the formation of the Atlantic Seaboard fall line between two physiographic provinces: the piedmont and Atlantic Coastal Plain. The fall line runs through the stony run and can be seen ___ where.
This explosive history is immortalized in the rock types found in Stony Run. While the Piedmont appears mainly in Gneiss and Granite from the Paleozoic period, the coastal plain contains looser, sedimentary rocks associated with its proximity to the ocean, such as shale and limestone. Not all rocks found in or around Stony Run are local. Some have been moved by builders in an attempt to stabilize the banks. However, those that are local were subducted over 400 million years ago during these early orogenies.
In the Early, 1800s Native Americans and Settlers would have centralized around these freshwater sources and likely sustained themselves with the freshwater fish found in the estuary. The fall line remained important throughout the colonization and development of the Americas, as it provided access to clean water, a source of orientation, and easy transport. It was a popular place to build cities because of the ease of transport and the rushing waters created by its rivers and streams provided a power source for mills. Despite this significance, the lands of Stony Run had a variable reputation over the years. ___ describes that: “the upper section of the watershed of Stony Run was esteemed by the early settlers of that part of Baltimore County to be valuable land, to judge by the fact that it was taken up mostly within the bounds of several tracts of land which were surveyed during the last decade of the seventeenth century...”
However, early surveyors spoke of the “gravelly” or “middling” lands within the watershed, and noted that there was a period of time that lasted until the 1740s much of the land remain vacant. The “Particular Tax List of Patapsco Lower Hundered” (1700-1800) placed a low value on these lands for their lack of timber. Although the land may have been deemed “poor” for human inhabitants, there is some evidence that other species thrived in the environment. Pools in the lower run suggested that trout once lived in the streams. Eels, catfish, and other species have even been documented in the Homeland Branch of the stream.
Were it not for the taconic orogeny, the watershed could’ve developed much differently.