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Cromwell Valley Park History

Our History

The Minebank Run stream valley has been settled since the early 1700s and used primarily for farming. Some iron ore mining took place in the area with the largest of at least four mines located at the stream's starting point - hence the stream's name.

In the late 1700s the use of agricultural lime to rejuvenate depleted fields became prevalent. The valley became a production area for building, whitewash, and agricultural lime, due to an easily quarried supply of Cockeysville marble, which readily turned into lime when cooked. Marble was dumped into the top of the kiln and burned using wood as fuel. The burned marble, now lime powder, was bagged at the base of the furnace. The Jenifer and Shanklin families operated the most recent lime kilns in the valley. The remnants of the last eight of these lime kilns are still visible today in the park.

Once referred to as "Lime Kiln Bottom," the valley seems to have acquired its present name from William Cromwell, who married Elizabeth Raven and inherited her father's land in 1773. The Ravens were some of the earliest settlers in the valley, along with the Stansburys, Towsons, and Risteaus.

Today's park was acquired from four property owners from March 1993 to the present, primarily with "Program Open Space" funds from the state. The easternmost 220 acres, Willow Grove Farm, was purchased from the heirs of Robert Merrick, a prominent Baltimore banker. The house on this farm, built in the mid to late 1800s by A.W. Shanklin, is now the Nature Education Center. The center 102 acre farm, Sherwood Farm, was purchased from the heirs of Mrs. Frances Wellington Sherwood. The gorgeous Sherwood House on this property, dating from 1935, was designed by the firm of Palmer and Lambdin. Running it as a gentleman's farm, the Sherwoods operated an apple and peach orchard, sold eggs and chickens to the public, and raised farm animals for the family's own kitchen. The third property, Fellowship Farm, was purchased from Mr. Franklin Eck, who operated a Christmas tree farm. Finally, the most recent acquisitions were the 50 acre Barrans' Property and the 20 acre " Betty's Gardens", hilly parcels near Providence Road.