Black History Month and Maryland’s Highways

African American laborers built Maryland’s highways with machinery, tools and sweat, as these photos from the 1920s through the 1940s show.

Bare Hills historical photo​​​

Work had started on the Falls Road (MD 25) bridge over the North Central Railroad, where it crossed the highway near Lake Roland south of Bare Hills, on April 6, 1931. African American workers were frequently employed to dig the trenches for bridge footings.

Bare Hills historical photo #2

By September 4, 1031, bridge construction neared completion and African Americans continued to work on the bridge, including laying down the steel and concrete for the roadway.

Erdman Avenue Underpass historical photo

A B&O Railroad overpass was built to carry Erdman Avenue (MD 151) beneath the tracks. The African American crew and the boss posed inside the framework of the pier in 1943.

Erdman Avenue Underpass historical photo

A crew on Erdman Avenue set the steel on the bridge to carry the tracks.

Hills Bridge historical photo

African Americans dug the footings and installed the formwork for the abutment of the Hills Bridge near Upper Marlboro. This bridge remained in place until the mid-1990s when MDOT SHA built a new girder bridge to carry MD 4 over the river.

Hills Bridge historical photo

Hills Bridge over the Patuxent River in a photo taken on July 25, 1932 showing one abutment complete and the near one under construction. The early 20th century truss bridge was one lane.

Ridgeville historical photo

Ridgeville, MD. An old alignment of the National Pike (MD 144) south of Mt. Airy through the African American community of Parrsville and people came to watch the work.

Ridgeville historical photo

Ridgeville, October 13, 1930: African Americans working on the crew building the highway bridge above the B&O Railroad. Here they are holding ropes to support the installation of the parapet.