Vanishing Texas, Baltimore County

March 16, 1991

If you have never visited Texas -- Texas, Md., that is -- go quickly before the old quarry hamlet disappears.

That is likely to happen later this year when McDermott's Tavern -- the town's watering hole -- and two other remaining buildings along Railroad Avenue will be torn down to make way for light-rail lines and an extension of Beaver Dam Road. After that, only St. Joseph's Catholic Church will remain as a landmark in a village that originally was settled by Irish stonecutters in the 1840s.

No one is sure how this community near Cockeysville got its Lone Star name. But John W. McGrain, the Baltimore County historian, thinks many of its early residents joined the "Texas Greens" unit in the Mexican War of 1847-48. When they came back, they supposedly said the arid place reminded them of Texas. That name stuck. (In some earlier historical records the village is referred to as Clarksville, after a quarry operator. For a time, its post office used the name Ellengowan -- the name of an estate in Sir Walter Scott's novel "Guy Mannering".)

At the time of Baltimore County's separation from the city, Texas was mentioned as a possible location for the county seat. But John Ridgely of Hampton swung the votes for Towson in 1853 by promising 40 nearby acres for a county alms house and poor farm.

After that close-call with history, limestone quarrying remained a Texas tradition. Over the years, quarries have bored huge holes into the rock in the area. Mining is likely to continue long after the name Texas disappears from the map.

Baltimore County history is full of descriptions of once-significant industrial villages that today are gone without as much as a trace. Oregon, Ashland, Northampton and Gunpowder are just a few of the old iron furnace sites. Now-forgotten forges range from Avalon to Franklinville. Two dozen paper mills also once thrived, with names like Rabbit Hollow and Coon Box.

Texas will soon join that roster. It will become a section of Cockeysville that will prompt little comment from passengers in cars speeding on York Road or I-83 -- or from patrons in light-rail trains.

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