Deer Creek, a 40-mile stream that meanders from the sloping hills of Baltimore County to the Susquehanna River, used to be in the middle of Indian country. In fact, an old Indian village once stood near the Rocks, a massive pile of boulders nine miles northeast of Bel Air, which is one of Harford County's most interesting formations of nature. A legend has it that one stone formation is an ancient Indian burial marker.
Deer Creek "is a history of rural America," contends Christopher Weeks, the county's historical preservation planner. Early colonial settlers built their homesteads and mills on its banks. "One can see, based on the buildings that are still standing, 250 years of agricultural development," he said.
A group of residents, aided by county planners, has now prepared a massive proposal to put 15,000-acres of the Deer Creek Valley onto the National Register of Historic Places. That would protect the region from highways and dams and other developments that receive federal funding.