Sunday, March 23, 2014

Curious Placename: "the great falls of Gunpowder"

In Archives of Maryland 204:384 is an act titled:
An ACT to open a road from the great falls of Gunpowder, at a place known by the name of Meredith's Ford, until it intersect the main road leading from Baltimore-town to York-town, in Pennsylvania, at a place called Burck's Old Field.
This is a most peculiar name: "the great falls of Gunpowder."  Was there a gunpowder mill there?


  1. You will still pass that on I-95 heading towards DC. I think it's just "Big Gunpowder Falls" these days.

    See here

  2. The Big Gunpowder Falls and the Little Gunpowder Falls are on the Gunpowder River, which flows from PA down into Maryland. Apparently nobody knows for sure how the name came about, but the prevailing theory is that the river had rich saltpeter deposits.