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A GUIDE TO THE HISTORY AND HERITAGE OF PENCADER HUNDRED  
Old Baltimore Pike

Old Baltimore Pike Settlers on the Welsh tract in 1723 petitioned the New Castle and Cecil County Courts for an improved road from the head of the Elk River to Christina Bridge connecting to a road to New Castle. At the time the only resemblance of a road in the area was an Indian trail that led east and west over the south side of Iron Hill. As the inhabitants moved west from the Delaware River it was necessary for an improved road to be established for the transportation of products from the milling and grain-producing areas of Cecil County to a major shipping center at Christiana and Elkton. The resulting road was known as Old Post Road. Money needed for the repairs was hard to come by so it was incorporated in 1813 as the Elk and Christiana Turnpike, which took until April of 1817 to be completed. The turnpike ran from Christiana to the Maryland line, a distance of seven miles and to pay for its upkeep tolls were collected at Cooch’s Bridge and near the intersection of what is now Smalley’s Dam Road. The by-laws governing the operation of the turnpike closely followed that of the New Castle and Frenchtown Turnpike, which was the first turnpike in the area. After the establishment of the New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad, the turnpike became a less attractive route for grain and heavy freight; abandoned by the company in 1838 it reverted back to a public road.

Some of the old time residents refer to the road as the Post Road but it is officially referred to as Old Baltimore Pike, and despite carrying its share of traffic, most of it remains only two lanes wide. It was not in the too distant past that the road was bordered solely by farmland but many sections have now been lost to development.

A historic marker “erected by The Captain Jeremiah Baker Chapter D.A.R. of Perryville Maryland” is located at the Delaware and Maryland border. It reads: OLD POST ROAD ESTABLISHED 1666, WHERE IT CROSSES THE MASON AND DIXON LINE, DIVIDING THE STATES OF MARYLAND AND DELAWARE. RUN 1763-1767. The cast iron marker is enhanced with a likeness of a stagecoach.

Sites of historic importance along the Old Baltimore Pike in the Pencader Area are: Iron Hill, Iron Hill School, Latrobe House, Feeder Canal, Dayett Mills, Baynard House, Cooch House, and Cooch’s Bridge.


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