Creek Sides

Custodian With a dry mop in a hallway

By Olivia Millunzi, Heritage Frederick

Carroll Creek is about 8.5 miles long, starting at the foothills of Catoctin Mountain and running through Downtown Frederick to the Monocacy River. The creek also runs through the heart of Frederick’s history. As with most early towns along waterways, Frederick was designed so the creek could be used as a convenient source of water for cooking and drinking, as well as power for industry. As the town grew, the northern, upstream side of the creek evolved as the center of commerce and legal affairs and neighborhoods for white residents. Factories and industry clustered along the creek, acting like a barrier, while the southern, downstream side emerged as lower class and racially segregated. The class and racial divides were reflected early in the 1800s when businesses used Carroll Creek as a convenient waste disposal system that carried contaminants and sewage along with their odors away to the southern part of town.

In turn, All Saints and South streets—on the opposite side of the creek—became the center of Frederick’s segregated, African American neighborhoods. Between the 1920s and 1970s, much of the area thrived with Black-owned businesses, churches and social clubs. However, much of the area remained within Carroll Creek’s floodplain, a fact that proved disastrous during the 1972 and 1976 floods, which left nearly all of Downtown Frederick several feet underwater. Frederick subsequently made Carroll Creek part of its 1990s revitalization efforts, resulting in the remediation of the industrial dumping, rerouting of the creek through large, underground, conduits, and the creation of Carroll Creek Park.

Frederick Magazine