Anne Arundel County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: February 6, 2006
Author: Don Desrosiers

This county did not take so much time in the "assault" as it took it proving I had done the highest point. Thus, while it was "completed" on February 6th, additional steps were involved to actually prove it. For those who have not done so recently, I refer you to section 4 of The Rules - Multiple Areas. These will become important. All compass directions given are as magnetic unless noted.

Area 1 (unnamed "TV Tower") - Previous directions by Glenn Bock and Mike Schwartz should get you there easily enough. Park at the tower (not the highest point), noting the actual HP in the front yard of #1985 Fields Road. Careful scoping (scope set on block of wood on top of Subaru) indicates the actual HP is greater than 6 feet higher than the area at the "TV Tower" (310 feet determined several ways), or greater than 316 feet. Further, if you walk back to the vicinity of the intersection of Clark and Fields Roads and it is early morning during the winter months, you will be able to scope pretty much due magnetic south to the "Tower" area. At this time, the leaves will be off of the trees and the sun should be rising at approximately 120 degrees (roughly east-southeast). This provides for a sufficient backlit view of the Fort Meade area to determine that the "TV Tower" area HP is clearly higher by about 8 - 9 vertical feet.

Area 2 (unnamed point 2200 feet east of "TV Tower") - Again, previous directions are quite sufficient. GPS readings indicate this point is about 8 feet lower than the TV Tower (which is not the HP of the area). Field inspection confirms this number.

Area 3 (unnamed "Tower" on Fort Meade) - scopes as lower than the "TV Tower" area.

Area 4 (unnamed area east of Maryland City) - As previously noted, this area has been developed and is now a shopping center. I felt the highest point was somewhere in the parking lot in a triangle with vertices at Regency Furniture, Chick-Fil-A, and Burger King. There is a clear rise that corresponds roughly with the topo but, if this point still goes over 300, it is not by much.

OK, since I admittedly did not set foot on one of the points, I need to provide some form of proof if I am going to claim this one. These are listed in roughly the order of importance/credibility.

1. Based on the topo and local conditions, the area approximately 40 feet along Fields Road (just southeast of the large pine tree) is about 304 feet. My eyes are 5 feet, 9 inches off the ground. Thus, my level is at least being held at 309 feet. The Fort Meade area scopes out as lower than 309. This would agree with the BM page wherein the "Tower" BM is given as 308 feet. While I do not put absolute faith in the elevations cited on the BM pages, this one appears to be pretty close. (Cf paragraphs 1 and 2 in Section 4 of The Rules).

2. From the side/front of the Chick-Fil-A at area #4, one may get a very clear view of both the "TV Tower" and the "Tower" areas. Of the two areas, the area at 35 degrees (smaller tower at "TV Tower") was higher than the area at 44 degrees (larger towers at "Tower"). This relative elevation difference was determined using a 4-foot carpenters level. The compass directions observed agreed with the mathematical calculations of these points done later at home. This view took a second trip because it did not occur to me to look the first time. (Cf paragraphs 1, 2, and 6 of section 4 of The Rules.)

3. The Anne Arundel Planning & Zoning believes that the 1985 Fields Road area is the highest area in the county at 317 feet. This figure roughly agrees with the elevation I had calculated (316+ feet). It should be noted that the MD Geological Survey indicates the highest point in the county to be 300 feet. However, careful examination of their information (along with past performance) casts significant doubt on their beliefs. (Cf paragraph 5 of section 4 of The Rules.)

4. The TV Tower itself is at 310 feet. The current tower is a telephone signal relay tower owned by American Tower and the tower itself is leased by Nextel. Both American Tower and Nextel believe the base of the tower sits at 310 feet. This elevation figure is lent further credence by the FCC (a former employer of mine). Their database lists the original TV tower (a TV signal repeater, actually) as 310 feet. Regulations in place when the current tower was erected (approximately 1985) would have required that the base elevation be independently verified with a new survey. Thus, I feel 310 is accurate. Again if we add the 6 feet from my scoping, we are left with 316+ feet, putting us in sync with county Planning & Zoning. (Cf paragraph 5 of section 4 of The Rules).

5. I spoke with the landowner at #1985. He said he had been there since the 1950's and that he knew he was on the highest point in the county and that the ridge in question was the watershed between the Patapsco and Patuxent Rivers (verified by cartographic examination). Further, he let drop that the original TV tower was put there because the ridge in question was the "highest thing between Baltimore and Washington". This agrees with the wording on the original FCC permit application.

Thus, I firmly believe that the "TV Tower" point is the big enchilada in this county; and that the other three points may be safely ignored.

If you are into German food, beer, and polka music, try Blob's Park. At the 175/Clark Road intersection, go south onto Blobs Park Road (rather than north onto Clark). The Park is open on weekends.