Long Bar Harbor, a community of about 900 homes hidden in a nook along the Bush River in Harford County, has just two entrances between Edgewood and Belcamp along U.S. 40. That seclusion, its proximity to the Bush River and its wide range of home styles makes it a favorite among those who can find it.
Each of the two entrances to Long Bar Harbor offers a different picture of the community of about 2,500 people.
A flashing yellow traffic light marks the main entrance to the peninsula, bound by the Bush River, a tributary to the larger and more widely recognized Gunpowder River.
Long Bar Harbor Road, the main entrance, is a two-lane road lined mostly with brick, single-family homes. The majority of these houses are ranchers, Colonials, Cape Cods, split foyers and contemporaries, most of which were built 30 to 50 years ago.
As one gets closer to the water, the unique styling of the homes becomes apparent.
Waterfront homes that sit on lots of up to 3 acres range from near mansions with windows looking out on the river to more sedate ranchers and split foyers, with boats and trailers on the lawn or in the driveway.
This older section of the community began when the Long Bar Realty Co. began turning William Longley's large cornfield into lots for new homes, capitalizing on the desire of middle-class Baltimore workers to move farther from the city where they worked.
With its quaint appearance and its wider range of house styles, shapes and colors than the popular suburban oasis to its west, Edgewood, Long Bar Harbor became a favorite for many of the families that have remained in the area for more than 40 years.
Then, as now, a main attraction was U.S. 40, a main road to Baltimore before the opening of Interstate 95 in 1963.
Although Interstate 95 has become a more popular travel route, motorists can reach downtown Baltimore along U.S. 40 in about 30 minutes -- without having to stop and pay a $1 toll each way.
Waterfront in demand
Practicality aside, waterfront communities in Harford County are at a premium, with Aberdeen Proving Ground claiming more than half the waterfront property in the county for military use.
In Long Bar Harbor, approximately 30 true waterfront properties cost between $50,000 and $100,000 more than similar homes just a few blocks off the water, according to several residents and real estate agents.
Yet, most of the community's homes sit back several blocks from the water.
Many Long Bar Harbor residents moor their boats at the Bush River Yacht Club, which started in the 1920s on a site where a girls' camp had been located previously.
"We wanted to live on the water because I like the water," said Bill Schaeffer, who moved to Long Bar Harbor from Joppatowne 12 years ago.
A retired Bethlehem Steel Corp. worker, Schaeffer and his wife, Pat, were attracted to the neighborhood because of the variety of homes and the more mature residents.
Difference is savored
"It's an older neighborhood where you don't have a lot of houses, and each of them is different," said Schaeffer, who fishes the river near his rancher for catfish and perch several times a month. The couple's rancher is just feet from the Bush River Yacht Club, and less than a quarter of a mile from the water.
"It's different from any other area in this county, I'd say," Schaeffer added.
About a mile from the Schaeffers' tree-shaded property is the other U.S. 40 entrance to Long Bar Harbor.
Just west of a narrow section of the Bush River, where anglers try their luck at all hours, is Pamela Drive.
The 300-yard dirt and gravel road doesn't even seem as if it's an entrance to a community, but it leads to Franz Drive and the newer section of the community, where mature trees are at a premium.
Most of the homes here were built in the last 15 years, and a different kind of resident has come to Long Bar Harbor.
These younger residents favor the split-levels and two-story homes with white, gray, cream and blue vinyl siding, well-manicured lawns, one-car and two-car garages and children's toys in the driveway or scattered about the front lawns.
Ray and Doris Scanlon moved to their four-bedroom, gray Colonial 3 1/2 years ago.
Their move from Dundalk was fueled by an interest in being closer to the water and the price range for homes in Harford County, which enabled the family to acquire more land and house than would have been possible in Baltimore County, Ray Scanlon said.
Today the family has grown to include three children, Eric, now 5, Ciera, 3, and Emily, 6 months. "We're near the water and we have a good-sized house in a good neighborhood," Scanlon said as the children played in the cul-de-sac.
A mechanic for the U.S. Postal Service, Scanlon uses U.S. 40 to reach work in Baltimore in about 30 minutes, while his wife makes a longer commute, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes, to her postal carrier's job at the Linthicum post office.