The Herring Run Archaeology Project is a free, community-based, public archaeology program that brings pasts into the present through collaborative archaeological discovery focused on Baltimore’s cultural heritage, at sites including Eutaw Farm and the Ship Caulkers’ Houses in Fell’s Point. 

Archaeologists Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer donate their time to this project during multiple excavation and laboratory sessions throughout the year.  We’re an all-volunteer project, which means we have no permanent funding and no paid staff, but we do have the finest volunteers a not-for-profit project could ask for!

Keep an eye on this blog and our Facebook page for new discoveries and information about how you can get involved! You can also ask us anything you’d like to know about archaeology in Baltimore. Contact us directly at:


The project is made possible by our gracious partner organizations:

Baltimore Heritage

The Friends of Herring Run Parks

Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation

The Natural History Society of Maryland

Baltimore Department of Recreation & Parks

And you, if we’re lucky!



4 thoughts on “About

  1. I’m sort of interested in Eutaw and Herring Run Park because of some research I’ve been doing on A.C. Robinson and wondered whether you might be interested in some of the information I have on the place. I’m writing a blog on Robinson’s brother in law; here, for instance, is one story (there are many others) on Robinson at the start of the Civil War: http://cathyrandall.tumblr.com/post/79271095398/march-1862-alexanders-family-was-in-the-midst-of

    Dr. Alexander C. Robinson married Margaret Louisa Hall, daughter of William Benedict Hall of the estate called Eutaw, today’s Herring Run Park.

    Louisa’s brother Carvel (who fought with the CSA in the Civil War) would later marry Dr. Robinson’s daughter, Agnes (by Robinson’s first marriage to Rosa Wirt.) When Carvel died, his sister Louisa Robinson inherited Eutaw.

    Robinson was the attending physician at the Calverton Almshouse and advocated humane and productive treatment for mental disorders. At that time, “insane,” “criminals” and “paupers” were usually all thrown together in one institution. Robinson wanted to separate these classes and worked to find a location for a new facility for the mentally ill. He was in good company with Dorothea Dix, Moses Sheppard and Dr. Richard Sprigg Steuart, to name a few.

    At one point Herring Run was considered, but was discarded:

    Baltimore Sun August 31, 1930 (retrospective): Dr. Robinson was clearly one of the earliest disciples of occupational therapy. He dwells upon the “injurious influence of continued idleness and the great value of labor and interesting occupation in the treatment of mental disorders.” His was a voice crying in the wilderness, to which scant attention was paid; but he deserves an honorable position as a pioneer among those who labored amidst discouragement and sometimes open or covert abuse for the better care of the mentally disordered.

    Baltimore Sun January 25, 1861: “The undersigned, appointed by you to examine the site recently selected for the new Baltimore almshouse, beg leave to report as follows:

    “We have visited and inspected the ground selected for the purpose above mentioned on the Philadelphia road, near Herring Run. We concur in the opinion that in regard to salubrity the site is badly chosen. The foundation of the projected building is located in a basin surrounded partially by low hills, which throw the surface water directly toward it. On the side towards Herring Run there is a gentle declivity, terminating in the alluvial meadows through which the run flows. This slope is broken by a ravine, which commences near the foundation of the building, and terminating in the run, conveys the surface water to that stream. Toward the run and the alluvial meadow the site is completely exposed. South of the Philadelphia road and bordering on the run is a marsh, which at certain seasons must be productive of malarious exhalations. These would be conveyed by a southeast wind up the bed of the run, and particularly along the ravine, directly to the site of the projected building.

    “In seasons unfavorable to the production of these malaria, little or no disease might result, but it would be very surprising if occasionally its effects were not seen in the production of intermittent and bilious fevers. Such causes may be expected to render more malignant and fatal those epidemics which spring from specific causes.

    “There is on the property another more elevated and less insalubrious site, but not entirely free from the decided objections which exist to the present locality.

    “We cannot say with precision to what extent the objections to the site selected might be obviated, though certainly not in any great degree by filling the ravine, and constructing in its course a culvert, and by planting a grove of trees on the slope towards Herring Run.”

    Signed — N[athan] R[yno] Smith, M.D., Alexander C. Robinson, M.D., Charles H. Bradford, M.D.

    Baltimore Sun August 31, 1930 (retrospective): On April 1, 1861, the separation was accomplished, and thenceforth the almshouse was conducted solely by city authority and at the city’s expense. The new almshouse was built at what is now Bay View, and in the week of March 13 to 20, 1866, the inmates of the almshouse at Calverton were transferred to the new home.


  2. How as an individual can I too, participate in a dig. As a kid in the 40’s & 50’s I play in the park.


  3. When the Highway was built across the headwaters of Back River, at Herring Run, a “longboat” was discovered in the mud. At the time the ship was tentatively IDed as Viking. Would you have any info on this, or where I can go for further information. Thank you.


    1. Hi there,

      In fact, the Maryland Historical Trust does have a very, very brief record of something being found near the intersection of I-695 and MD 702 (along Northeast Creek/Back River) during highway construction in 1970, but it only includes a big circle around the intersection and the following note: “Old boat found near here during 1970 highway construction.” The State Highway Administration didn’t have any archaeologists on staff at that time, and there’s no indication that the boat was excavated or investigated by experts – if there had been a study, the Trust would likely have that research on file, and there’s nothing, unfortunately. I looked through the old construction records on file at SHA for 695 at that location, but didn’t find any references to a wreck.

      That said, there was a wharf near there from the late 1700s onward, so I don’t doubt there could’ve been a shipwreck there. A Viking shipwreck seems really unlikely to me, but who knows?? You might try searching the Baltimore Sun archives? They might’ve covered the discovery!


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