The Savage Rocks: What A Treasure

The Scene

The Scene. County currents and undercurrents

September 26, 1990|By Erik Nelson

When I took this job, I knew precious little about Howard County, other than it was the home of Columbia, the Mall and Merriweather Post Pavilion.

But I just discovered that I was aware of one of Howard County's hidden treasures, and didn't know it.

When I was in high school in Beltsville (that's Prince George's County, for all you Northerners), a friend invited me and some cohorts to jump into the back of his mother's station wagon for a ride in the country.

As we rode along, not caring where we were headed, the driver said we were going to swim in the "Savage River," which, I'm told, is actually in Western Maryland.

But we went to Savage instead, and went swimming in the Little Patuxent River at what is known as Savage Rocks.

Despite all the empty beer cans and broken glass (we had to swim with tennis shoes on), the place was beautiful, and we took all of our empties with us. I couldn't argue with Ellen Waff, president of the Savage Community Association, when she called it "one of the most beautiful places in Maryland."

Not surprisingly, I was part of the unsavory element that local residents complain makes them a little nervous about enjoying the place themselves.

Waff said police crackdowns netted 140-odd arrests on alcohol-related charges from spring through August this year, and one neighbor told her of visiting the place while "there was this guy doing handstands in the water who had nothing on at all."

Even though those high school memories have faded, I now feel compelled to revisit the place in cut-offs and tennis shoes, and I am not alone.

At a Savage Days festival, a local entrepreneur sold out of "Savage Rocks" T-shirts, Waff said. "I guess Savage Rocks said something to them, about their wild and crazy years," she theorized.

The place can be reached by a pathway from parking along the Foundry Street bridge over the Little Patuxent, and has improved somewhat since my teen-age friends and I terrorized the site.

"The litter is not at all the way it used to be. Maybe the police enforcement has helped," said Waff, who savors her walks along the Savage Rocks path.

So if you haven't seen them yet, and we get a little more warm weather this year, leave the teen-agers at home and head down to Savage Rocks for some old-fashioned feet-splashing.

Just watch for the cops, and keep your attorney's number handy.

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