History of the Friends
of Anne Arundel County Trails
Before the “rails to trails” phenome arrived in Anne Arundel County, railroads provided passenger transportation as well as movement of product to and from outlying areas.
The Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad (the B&A) was chartered on January 6, 1880, with the first passenger train rolling March 9, 1887. Due to the advent of cars and buses, however, the use of the rails languished, with the last passenger train on the B&A February 5, 1950. The last freight train ran in 1990. Not until the right of way was sold to the county on June 21, 1981 did the thought of using the route for another purpose change. A movement was underfoot to “recycle” the right of way and turn it into a linear hiking and biking park running from north of Annapolis to Glen Burnie, a 13 mile stretch. The B&A Trail was completed in 1990.
In 1993, Stan LeBar and David Dionne met, developing the concept of a non-governmental support group to assist the park rangers as they patrolled the newly created B&A Trail. On November 11, 1994 ten community-minded citizens established the Friends of the B&A Trail. Subsequently, the Articles of Incorporation were amended on September 6, 2001 to become the Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails. Its mission was and remains “to promote, protect and enhance the trails in Anne Arundel County.” To accomplish this mission, The Friends have worked with the Department of Recreation and Parks, utilizing community volunteers and the resources of an active and dedicated Board of Directors. Each Board Member is assigned a responsibility, whether it be serving as an officer or coordinating the work of a committee. Charter Board Members included Steve Ailstock, Sue Briers, Mary Calvert, Christine Coffin, Robert Davies, Bill DeHoff, Stan Lebar, Bill Levitt and Dick McIntyre.
In the western part of the county, the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad (WB&A) was built, with the first passenger train running on February 7, 1908. Due to bankruptcy, however, this train only operated until August 20, 1935. It was not until October of 1992 that the concept of using this right of way for a second hiking and biking path was considered. To date, only a short portion of the WB&A Trail has been constructed.
The concept of a third trail was developed by the Maryland Aviation Administration in October of 1992. It was envisioned to circle the BWI/Thurgood Marshall Airport. Once designed and built in May of 1999, the management of the newly created BWI Trail was assumed by the county Department of Recreation and Parks.
Citizens of the Broadneck Peninsula clamored for a trail along College Parkway in Arnold, linking residents of the Cape St. Claire area to the B&A Trail. The first phase of the Broadneck Trail, from Cape St. Claire Drive to Greenholly Drive, was completed in 2014. The second is expected to be completed in the 2016-2017 time frame.
In order to financially support its activities, the Board has cobbled together grants, donations, and monies raised through the Lasting Gifts Program to design and create new projects along the entire Anne Arundel County trail system. The first undertaking was the creation of Hatton-Regester Green in Severna Park. Dedicated in 1999, this oasis sports amenities such as benches, a gazebo for the Summer Concert Series, a small pond, a World War II Memorial for those from Severna Park who gave their lives during that war, as well as extensive landscaping.
About a year after the B&A Trail was completed, the rangers moved the Flowerbed Program to The Friends. Partnering with the Glen Burnie Improvement Association, the Glen Burnie Millennium Green Project was installed in 2000. In the years to follow, designs for the Planet Walk began, with the Sun Station sculpture (now referred to as the Stan LeBar Plaza) being the first of the two completed.
Additional projects included Art on Maryland’s Millennium Legacy Trail in Glen Burnie, the Kevin Dooley Memorial, the Kati Fisher Memorial, the Pluto site, Jonas Green Park, the Severna Park Pet Garden and the train museum, located now at the Earleigh Heights Ranger Station, in which The Friends partnered with the Severna Park Model Railroad Club.
Odenton Babington Green was started in 2007, with Angel’s Garden following. Around the BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport in Linthicum, art sculptures were installed through Art on Maryland’s Millennium Trail and the Claudia Woods Rest Area.
There remains much to be done to expand the county’s trail system. The Friends of Anne Arundel County Trails will continue to work in its volunteer capacity to augment the county’s work.