Daniels – Ellicott City, Maryland - Atlas Obscura

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An eerie, decaying ghost town destined to fade into the forest. 


Pieces of a small industrial town sit crumbling in the woods. Weeds and vines ensnare the few surviving structures. The bits of rotting wood and worn stone remain like markers of a ghost town destined to one day fade into the forest.

Daniels (formerly known as Elysville) was once a booming little town alongside the Patapsco River in Maryland. It was born in 1810, when Thomas Ely and his family moved there and established a textile mill. By the 20th century, an entire industrial village had popped up around the mill, complete with stores, churches, a school, and a railroad station.

But as it turns out, the tiny town was destined for a quick burst of life rather than long-term survival. The mill closed in the late 1960s, and the nearly 90 families who had lived there for years were told to pack up and leave. To add insult to injury, tropical storm Agnes tore through the region in 1972, flooding the town and destroying many of its buildings, leading to its full abandonment.

Now, Daniels is no more than a ghost town of stone ruins and decaying wood. Graffiti mars bits of the old buildings. Rotting cars rest undisturbed, left wherever the floodwaters happened to put them. It’s still possible to see remnants of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church and its small graveyard, the Pentecostal Holiness Church, and the old dam and bridge.

Know Before You Go

To get to the southern portion of Daniels, Maryland, head to Daniels Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21043. If you are attempting to see the northern portion, which includes Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church, Pentecostal Holiness Church, and several old ruins, you will need to navigate to Alberton Rd, Windsor Mill, MD, which is off of Dogwood Road. You will then need to park and walk the footpath to see the points of interest.

Parking at Daniels Dam on Daniels Rd lets you see the remains of the bridge into Daniels, though the bridge is long gone. Immediately on the opposite bank of the river is the most recognizable church, alongside another part of the bridge. Getting there either requires a shallow swim through the river, an adventurous spirit to walk over a train bridge or a long walk along a footpath. Parking in the small lot at the corner of Dogwood Rd and Alberton Rd and following Alberton Rd as it transitions into a footpath will also get you there, as well as provide access (though you'll need keen eyes to find it) to paths that lead to Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church and the graveyard, as well as many washed out vehicles. This is quite a hike, so be prepared.

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