Northern Central Railroad
Hereford Volunteer Association, Inc

Trail History - Pleasant Valley, Maryland

Pleasant Valley, roughly half a mile north of Monkton, was a 19th Century railroad settlement, built around mining operations.

The settlement is mentioned by name in Civil War records of 1864. It is shown in the 1877 Hopkins Atlas, which indicates buildings, a bridge over Gunpowder Falls, and a road leading west to Hereford.

The village was established to mine iron ore and soapstone. The iron ore deposits, like others along the railroad at such points as Glencoe, Padonia, and Lutherville, were worked in the early 1860's because of their proximity to the Ashland Iron Furnace. By 1864 this furnace had changed over to anthracite fuel because of easy access to coal transported by the Northern Central Railroad and could produce more pig iron, requiring new sources of ore. Pleasant Valley soapstone was used in minor quantities by the mills, foundries, and other industries along the railroad.

By the late 1870's Pleasant Valley had become a compact village containing a railroad station, small houses, a tavern, and a hotel known as the "Rat Trap".

The William H. Barnhart family were residents of Pleasant Valley from 1883 until 1901, with nine children in a small stone house, the remains of which can still be seen today next to the NCR Trail. Mr. Barnhart, a trackwalker or trackman for the Northern Central Railroad, was responsible for keeping the railroad tracks clear, safe, and operational from Pleasant Valley, MD to Parkton, MD.

The town was dropped from train schedules in the 1890's and declined rapidly; by the early 1900's Pleasant Valley, the bridge, and Hereford road had disappeared from official maps. The iron ore and soapstone veins had been depleted, and their markets also disappeared. The site remained derelict for many years. At one time during the 1930's and 1940's the railroad used the old miller's house, and the "Rat Trap" became a meeting place for unemployed workmen during the Depression.

Today Pleasant Valley exists only as a few crumbling remains which can be seen from the NCR Trail. The foundation of the "Rat Trap" Hotel, along with a few iron headboards, other stone foundations, bridge abutments and a spring head are all that remain.

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