Bob Belas Photography Blog

Baltimore's Serpentine Grasslands

Serpentine Grassland 2, b/w

Serpentine Rocks 2, color

Baltimore’s Serpentine Grasslands

A few days ago, I was hiking around the serpentine grasslands of Soldier's Delight nature reserve near Baltimore ( A cold front was moving through, the lighting was a mixed bag, and the vegetation mostly dried and long gone. Add to that, the ground was muddy, with moving water covering paths that in past would have been dry; thank you record rainfall. It was a slog to say the least. Nevertheless, this trek was fun and interesting.

I've long been a 'rock hound', and find the rocks and minerals in this area to be fascinating, as are the plants many of which are adapted to the toxic minerals in the soil. Chromite and iron- and magnesium-rich minerals color the rocks fascinating shades of yellow-green and hints of blue, which added to the gray of the sky to produce some nice photos. I don’t think many know that during the 19th century Soldiers Delight and the Bare Hills district of Baltimore City were the largest producers of chrome in the world. (There are two open-shaft chromite mines at or near Soldier’s Delight, although both are fenced off for public safety.)

Here are two photos from this hike. The second one is an accurate color representation of the serpentine rocks, for those not familiar with our serpentine grassland habitat.

Until next time,


Hi! I'm a retired university professor,  an avid photographer, musician, orchid grower, and a pretty good fisherman.

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