ARDEN History— By Andrew Huppert

Arden On The Severn is set in woodlands bordering the Severn River,  within the town of Crownsville, Maryland.


A hand-powered Arden ferryboat was an undertaking of a local man who was one of the early residents of this area long before it came to be a town. He also used the barge for gigantic fireworks displays on the 4th of July.



After the Civil War, Arden became the center of a somewhat famous, local mining enterprise. The sand being mined was as white and soft as flour and was extracted from the hills of Arden by stripping and tunneling. The sugary, white material being extracted was a special grade of sand, said to be the finest glass sand in the country. To most people now, the thought of a quiet, modern neighborhood being a mining operation for the most sought after glassmaking sand in the country seems a little far-fetched.

Historical maps from 1878 of the Arden area shows a note indicating glass sand between Plum and Valentine Creeks, but the history of the sand mining operations is much richer. At first, the mining operation involved strip mining at Halfway Point, which is now known as Beach Four, located off of Valentine View (Section Four). Later, caves were tunneled into the hillsides off of Whitney's Landing Drive. 

In 1885, the Annapolis Glass Works opened on Horn Point in Annapolis. Sand was dug from shoreline pits (on both sides of the Severn River) by companies that included the Brenan Sand Company at Forked Creek and the Liberty Sand and Gravel Company at Stevens Creek.

The mines provided labor for about 20 or so men from the local area. They carted the sand out of the caves with wheelbarrows, dumped it into cars that spilled the sand into cleaning bins. These bins, equipped with a steam driven worm and filled with water, filtered out the clay and oozed the baking soda-like sand onto waiting barges. The barges took the material downriver to the Chesapeake where it could be delivered to glassworks. 


The mining operation produced intricate tunnels dug into the banks of the Severn River, especially in the Arden area. These "caves," were literally caves, and not mine shafts because no shoring materials were used. They were hollowed out cathedral fashion, providing their own natural support. However picturesque this may have been, it was a wasteful form of mining which left half the usable sand in the hillside. Also, it wasn't the safest method. According to one story, some sand thieves got their comeuppance in the caves one night. They came up the river by schooner in the darkness and began to shear sand from the walls of a cave. Disturbing the natural structure, they were flattened by a wedge of cool, heavy, white sand and were eventually found by the employed day-miners. 

Around 1910, the mining operation was abandoned by the companies that operated around Arden, but the tunnels and caves became a local attraction. Cold and dark, they became a favorite adventure spot for young explorers and a retreat for young lovers. It was nearly 30 years or so before the caves were closed by authorities for everyone's safety (and for parents' peace of mind)  and with them a reminder of Arden's industrial past.

After the mining operation in and around Arden was abandoned, and the original settlement of Arden On The Severn was created. It is not officially known how Arden was named. Given the strong connection between Anne Arundel County and its British roots, it is thought that Arden shares its name with the ancient Arden forest in England. Surveys from 1911 show the settlement of Arden comprised about 600 acres and extended from Whitney's Landing Road along the Severn River to Plum Creek Drive. Originally, Arden did not include Sections Four and Five. Most of section Two was then privately owned.


(Some data was gathered independently, and some was taken from the Arden On The Severn Directory, 1995.)

Before the 1920s, the Crownsville area was mostly farmland, but over time four large communities were developed; Epping Forest, Sherwood Forest, Herald Harbor and Arden. 

For many years, only two homes (located on the Omar Road extension) existed in Arden. At that time, Beach Shores, Incorporated bought the surrounding land, cut roads, surveyed lots, and started an advertising campaign for a new beach community called Sunrise Beach. At the time, they envisioned a community of summer cottages, with perhaps a few year-round residents. Many early residents built summer cottages (most of which were later converted for full-time occupancy) but a handful built year-round homes to begin with. 

By 1955, approximately 30 families were living in the five sections of Sunrise Beach. All of the streets were gravel topped, and to go from one house to another, you needed a flashlight to see the way. Realizing that many improvements were necessary to make this a desirable area in which to live, some of the original residents formed the Civic Association of Sunrise Beach. This group was then incorporated under the laws of Maryland as a non-profit organization. Charter members of the Association included almost all the families living here at the time. Learning that the area was formerly known as Arden, the members of the first civic association adopted the name of "Arden On The Severn" to create an aura of permanence for the community.

(Historic maps, Hopkins 1878)


The original settlement of Arden On The Severn was created during the romantic period of the early 1900s in the days when people were delighting in a light opera which depicted the adventures of Robin Hood and his men in Sherwood Forest. The name "Arden" is the name of an ancient forest in England which may have been the inspiration for the naming of the proposed settlement. Arden was surveyed in 1911 by J. Spence Howard, whose family was one of the early families of Anne Arundel County. As a result of the survey all roads were laid out to follow the contour of gullies. 

The settlement of Arden contained about 600 acres and extended from Whitneys Landing Drive following the Severn to Plum Creek. The original Arden did not include Sections 4 and 5, and Mr. Henry Keidel owned most of Section 2. One of the four men who planned the settlement, a man named Strauss, lived in a home located at the end of what is now Evergreen Road. (Records show around 1940, Mr. Strauss sold the home to Mr. Taylor, president of the Friendly Insurance Company of Baltimore. )

The original deeds as set out in 1913 had two restrictive covenants: (1) No one occupying land in Arden On The Severn might purchase, convey, possess, manufacture, distribute or consume spirituous beverages and (2) whoever bought a piece of land covenanted not to sell it to "a celestial". In those days, China was called the Celestial Kingdom, so the covenant attempted to keep Asian people from buying. After an influx of Chinese immigrants and workers in the late 1800s, America had taken restrictive measures as racism spread. 

For many years only two lots in this anti-liquorous, anti-celestial area had houses on them. These homes are located on the Severn at the end of Omar Drive. These houses were built by two doctors from the University of Maryland, who were very close friends and who decided to live as neighbors in Arden. Each was so enthusiastic about his home that he had the builder take a picture every afternoon and send it up to him in Baltimore. When the houses were almost completed, however, the two doctors became so infuriated with each other during a poker game that they refused to live in the same neighborhood. Each man decided to sell his dream house, and neither informed the other of his decision. The two houses were sold almost simultaneously and each man regretted the sale.


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