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Harford County, Maryland


Harford County, Maryland

Harford County, Maryland
Harford County Courthouse
Flag of Harford County, Maryland
Seal of Harford County, Maryland
Map of Maryland highlighting Harford County
Location in the state of Maryland
Map of the United States highlighting Maryland
Maryland's location in the U.S.
Founded 1773
Named for Henry Harford
Seat Bel Air
Largest city Aberdeen
 • Total 527 sq mi (1,365 km2)
 • Land 437 sq mi (1,132 km2)
 • Water 90 sq mi (233 km2), 17%
 • (2010) 244,826
 • Density 560/sq mi (216/km²)
Congressional districts 1st, 2nd
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website .gov.harfordcountymdwww

Harford County is a county in the U.S. state of Maryland. As of the 2010 census, the population was 244,826.[1] Its county seat is Bel Air.[2]

Harford County is included in the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA Combined Statistical Area.


Harford County was formed in 1773 from the eastern part of Baltimore County. It contains Tudor Hall, birthplace of Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Harford County also hosted the signers of the Bush Declaration, a precursor document to the American Revolution.

The county was named for Henry Harford (ca. 1759-1834), the illegitimate son of Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore. Henry Harford was born to Calvert's mistress, Hester Whelan, whose residence still stands as part of a private residence on Jarretsville Pike, in Phoenix, Maryland. Harford served as the last Proprietary Governor of Maryland but, because of his illegitimacy, did not inherit his father's title.

Havre de Grace, an incorporated city in Harford County, was once under consideration to be the capital of the United States rather than Washington, D.C.. It was favored for its strategic location at the top of the Chesapeake Bay; this location would facilitate trade while being secure in time of war. Today, the waterways around Havre de Grace have become adversely affected by silt runoff, which is one of the primary environmental issues of Harford County.

The county has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.[3]

Environmental history

Harford County has environmental issues in three major areas: land use, water pollution/urban runoff, and soil contamination/groundwater contamination.

The county's past, present, and future population booms and land development activities have created conflicts between farmers and developers/homeowners wishing to create subdivisions. The county was one of the first in the country to implement a development envelope plan, in which new development is channeled into specific areas of the county.

Because the county sits at the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay along the Susquehanna River, it plays a key role in controlling sediment and fertilizer runoff into the bay as well as fostering submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) regrowth. The county has had to balance the needs of land owners to practice agriculture and/or pave land (creating impervious surfaces) with effects of runoff into the bay.

Harford County has been burdened by soil contamination and groundwater contamination since the creation of the Aberdeen Proving Ground. The military installation performs research for the U.S. Army and has released various chemical agents into soil and groundwater, including mustard gas and perchlorate. The bordering towns of Aberdeen, Edgewood and Joppatowne have been affected by this contamination.[4][5] Aberdeen Proving Ground contains three Superfund priority sites as of 2006. Groundwater contamination by MTBE, a mandatory gasoline additive, has also affected Fallston.[6][7]

Harford County also faces controversy from residents living near Scarboro Landfill and Harford Waste Disposal Center, the only municipal landfill. The landfill, approved to triple in size in 2007, is the subject of complaints by neighbors of operating violations, such as large areas of open trash and blown litter, leachate breaks which contaminate area residential wells and flow into Deer Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, and increased health problems.


Harford County was granted a charter form of government in 1972. This means that the county is run by a County Executive and Council President, both elected at large, as well as Council Members, elected from districts. Currently, there are six districts in Harford County. Also elected at large is the Sheriff, who runs the Harford County Sheriff's Office.


The Harford County Executive is David R. Craig (Republican).


Council Districts in Harford County
  • Council President: Billy Boniface (R)
  • District A: Dion Guthrie (D)
  • District B: Joseph Woods (R)
  • District C: James McMahan (R)
  • District D: Chad Shrodes (R)
  • District E: Richard Slutzky (R)
  • District F: Mary Ann Lisanti (D)


The current Sheriff is Jesse Bane.

State's Attorney

The current State's Attorney is Joseph I. Cassilly


Directors are nominated by the Executive and approved by the Council.
Department Director
Administration Mary Chance
Community Services Beth Hendrix
Economic Development James Richardson
Human Resources Janet Schaub
Housing Agency Shawn Kingston
Inspections, Licencing and Permits Richard Lynch
Law Robert McCord
Parks and Recreation Adren McClune
Planning and Zoning Peter Gutwald
Procurement Deborah Henderson
Public Works Timothy Wittie
Treasury Kathryn Hewitt

Other Departments

  • Harford County Public Library is a public library system serving Harford County. It has 11 branches located throughout the county.
  • Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association is the chief fire & EMS force in Harford County. It is made up of all the volunteer fire companies located throughout the county. It currently has 11 fire departments & 1 EMS department.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 527 square miles (1,360 km2), of which 437 square miles (1,130 km2) is land and 90 square miles (230 km2) (17%) is water.[8]

Harford County straddles the border between the rolling hills of the Piedmont Plateau and the flatlands of the Atlantic Coastal Plain along the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The county's development is a mix of rural and suburban, with denser development in the larger towns of Aberdeen and Bel Air and along Route 40 and other major arteries leading out of Baltimore. The highest elevations are in the north and northwest of the county, reaching 805 ft. near the Pennsylvania border in the county's northwestern corner. The lowest elevation is sea level along the Chesapeake Bay.

Adjacent counties

National protected area



Whereas according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau:


As of the census[14] of 2000, there were 218,590 people, 79,667 households, and 60,387 families residing in the county. The population density was 496 people per square mile (192/km²). There were 83,146 housing units at an average density of 189 per square mile (73/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 86.77% White, 9.27% African-American, 0.23% Native American, 1.52% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.69% from other races, and 1.47% from two or more races. 1.91% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 22.5% were of German, 13.1% Irish, 9.8% Italian, 9.2% English, 8.1% "American" and 6.0% Polish ancestry according to Census 2000.

By 2006 the population of Harford County had risen 10.4% to 241,402.[15]

The 2005 report on race and ethnicity indicated the county's population was 82.8% non-Hispanic whites. The proportion of African-Americans in the county had risen to 11.5%. Hispanics were now 2.4% of the total population.[15]

In 2000 there were 79,667 households out of which 38.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.90% were married couples living together, 10.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.20% were non-families. 19.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the county the population was spread out with 27.90% under the age of 18, 6.80% from 18 to 24, 31.60% from 25 to 44, 23.70% from 45 to 64, and 10.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $57,234, and the median income for a family was $63,868. Males had a median income of $43,612 versus $30,741 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,232. About 3.60% of families and 4.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.80% of those under age 18 and 6.70% of those age 65 or over.


According to's statistics,[16] the top employers are as follows:
# Employer # of Employees
1 Aberdeen Proving Grounds 15,582
2 Upper Chesapeake Health System 2,900
3 Rite Aid 1,500
4 Harford Community College 982
5 ShopRite 800
6 Jacobs Technology 787
7 SAIC 607
8 Saks Fifth Avenue 525
9 Wegmans 525
10 Walmart 497


Primary and Secondary Education

Harford County Public Schools

For an entire list of schools, see Harford County Public Schools.

The Harford County Public Schools system is the public school system serving the residents of Harford County. It includes thirty-two elementary schools, nine middle schools, ten high schools and one charter school.

Private schools

  • Harford Christian School a Christian school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • The John Carroll School, a Catholic school for 9th through 12th grade.
  • Trinity Lutheran School a Lutheran school for pre-kindergarten through 8th grade.
  • Harford Day School, a private school for Kindergarten through 8th grades.
  • Harford Friends School, a Quaker school for Kindergarten through 8th grades.
  • Saint Margaret School a Catholic school for pre-kindergarten through 8th grade.


There are no 4-year universities in Harford County. Harford Community College, located in Churchville, offers 2-year Associates degrees and vocational programs.


No major league sports teams are based in Harford County. The list of sports teams and organizations are shown below:

Program Colors Conference League Facilities Level
Aberdeen IronBirds                     McNamara New York-Penn League Ripken Stadium Short-Season A
Minor League Baseball
Harford Community College Fighting Owls           MD JUCO NJCAA Harford Sports Complex College
Aberdeen Eagles           Upper Chesapeake Bay
Athletic Conference
MPSSAA Various High School
Bel Air Bobcats          
C. Milton Wright Mustangs          
Edgewood Rams          
Fallston Cougars               
Harford Technical Cobras          
Havre De Grace Warriors          
Joppatowne Mariners          
North Harford Hawks          
Patterson Mill Huskies          
Harford Christian Eagles           N/A MACSAC
John Carroll Patriots           MIAA (Boys)
IAAM (Girls)
Baltimore Catholic League (Basketball)

Harford County is the birthplace of many sports icons, including Kimmy Mizener, a 2006 Olympic figure skating competitor, Cal Ripken, a former Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer and former Minnesota Vikings linebacker EJ Henderson.

Art and culture

The Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra, formerly the Harford Community Orchestra, is an orchestra that is based in Harford County. The group is made up of about 80 musicians from many professions.

The Havre De Grace Decoy Museum is a museum dedicated to working and decorative decoys used on the Chesapeake Bay.

Harford Community College hosts many cultural spots. The Chesapeake Center hosts the Chesapeake Gallery, a collection of artwork from established artists, as well as students and faculty, and the Chesapeake Theater, a theater venue used by the Phoenix Festival Theater Company, a student run theater group.

Harford Community College also has the Joppa Hall, which houses the Blackbox Theatre, an additional theater venue used by the Harford Dance Theater Company and the HCC Actors Guild. The Joppa Hall also houses the Joppa Recital Halls, a venue for musical performances.

Also at HCC is the Hays-Heighe House, a museum dedicated to the history of Harford County.


The newspaper of record is The Aegis.

Several radio stations are located in Harford County, as shown in the table below:
Call Sign Frequency City of License Format
WAMD 970 AM Aberdeen Top40
WHFC 91.1 FM Bel Air Variety
WJSS 1330 AM Havre De Grace News Talk Information
WXCY 103.7 FM Havre De Grace Country

The Harford Cable Network, or HCN, provides local TV. It shows local government events, high school and Fighting Owl sporting events and religious programming, among others.


Major Highways

Mass transportation

Buses are run by the county-owned Harford Transit.


The Harford County Airport is a small airport in Churchville. Its available for recreational pilots & flight training, as well as sight seeing, balloon rides, hang gliding and sky diving.

Law enforcement

Primary law enforcement in the county is handled by the Harford County Sheriff's Office, which has precincts in Jarrettsville, Edgewood and Bel Air. The Maryland State Police also have a barrack located in Bel Air which serves the citizens of Harford County. Municipal police needs are provided by the Bel Air Police Department, the Aberdeen Police Department and the Havre De Grace Police Department.



Health services are provided by Upper Chesapeake Health System. Harford Memorial Hospital located in Havre De Grace and Upper Chesapeake Medical Center located in Bel Air form the two hospital system. UCHS is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System.

Family support services

General counseling and trauma-based therapy, in-home assistance for the elderly and adult disabled, and other support programs for families and individuals are offered by [19] Some services are offered without charge; others are offered on a sliding-fee scale based on income.


Map of Harford County



Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


The Conowingo Dam is on the eastern border of Harford County; the dam operations and offices are on the Harford County side of the river.

Many scenes from the films Tuck Everlasting and From Within were filmed in various places around Harford County.

In 2011 the Office of National Drug Control Policy deemed Harford County a designated High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.[20]

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  4. ^ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Philadelphia, PA. "Aberdeen Proving Ground (Edgewood Area Site) - Current Site Information." EPA Superfund Site ID No. MD2210020036. May 2008.
  5. ^ EPA. "Aberdeen Proving Ground (Michaelsville Landfill) - Current Site Information." EPA Superfund Site ID No. MD3210021355. May 2008.
  6. ^ Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Baltimore, MD. "Fact Sheet - Drinking Water Well Impact: Fallston Presbyterian Church/Fallston Pre-Kindergarten, 600 Fallston Road, Fallston, Maryland." 2004-08-27.
  7. ^ MDE. "Fact Sheet - Drinking Water Well Impact: Fallston Service Center, 602 Fallston Road, Fallston, Harford County, Maryland 21047." MDE Case No. 9-0816HA. 2004-12-01.
  8. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  9. ^ U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Cambridge, MD. "Susquehanna River National Wildlife Refuge: Overview". 
  10. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  14. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  15. ^ a b Harford County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland Guiding Families, Strengthening Communities Since 1849". Retrieved 2013-01-27. 
  18. ^  
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ "8 counties deemed drug trafficking areas". 2011-06-20. Retrieved 2013-01-27. 

External links

  • Harford County government
  • Harford County Public Library
  • Harford County Public Schools
  • About Aberdeen Proving Ground
  • Harford County at the Wayback Machine (archived March 29, 1997)

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