Bladensburg Archaeology

Transportation History

Figure 24. Library of Congress January 18, 1926 National Photo Company Collection photograph showing flooding in Bladensburg. (Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog)

Bladensburg was settled on the Anacostia River as a port town during the early 1740s.  The river, then called the Eastern Branch, was once deep enough to support ocean going vessels carrying goods and indentured servants to the colonies from Scotland and tobacco back to Europe. In addition to water transportation, stagecoaches and carriages began to traverse the dusty roads once only used for horse and foot traffic.  By 1795, Griffith’s Map of the State of Maryland showed six roads leading out of Bladensburg towards Upper Marlboro, Annapolis, Baltimore, Frederick, Georgetown and Piscataway.  The following century saw improvements in road building methods as railroads and streetcars were introduced to the area.  The Baltimore Washington Turnpike from Baltimore through Bladensburg to Washington was completed in 1825.  A decade later, the Washington Branch of the B&O Railroad connected Baltimore to a station near Bladensburg. 

By the turn of the 20th century, Bladensburg evolved into a working class suburb and the street car lines eventually gave way to the personal automobile.  In the 1950s, road congestion grew and the government responded by funding numerous highway construction projects.  An increase in traffic resulted in the birth of Defense Highway (US 50), Baltimore Washington Parkway, dualization of US 1 ALT through Bladensburg, and construction of Kenilworth Avenue (MD 201).  By 1960, the state highway administration completed their current highway configuration in Bladensburg.