by Sean Innella
Patapsco Profiles is a new series in which we will introduce you to a friend of Patapsco Valley State Park and discover what the park means to them. Our first profile is on Bill Wheeler, a board member of the Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park.
Bill is an IT professional who first discovered Patapsco through friends at work. They told him about the park and how they biked through the trails, so Bill bought a cheap mountain bike and joined them. Once Bill experienced the challenge of the trails and the attachment to nature he was hooked, “The first time I went back there, I remember thinking, “Wow, this is crazy, I didn’t even know this stuff was back here”. Since that day, Bill has been going back to Patapsco time and time again, whether it is on a bike or just exploring by foot.
Bill says that Patapsco Valley State Park even played a role in the decision to move to Ellicott City, “My wife and I saw a home that was right off Ilchester Road. When we realized how close we could be to the park, and what that meant, it was kind of a no-brainer”.
He says that new discoveries in Patapsco happen regularly. “If I go back there today, there’s a good chance that if I decide to go on a trail I don’t go on much, I see stuff that I haven’t seen in the 20+ years I have been going back there.”
Not only does Bill enjoy the park, but he is also an active board member of the Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park (FPVSP). “FPVSP does a lot, we raise money to build new trails, maintain the park, and do anything we can to promote and preserve the park”.
An advocate of the park, Bill likes to share how special the park is to those that are not familiar with it, “It’s an amazing place with something for everybody, you don’t have to be a hiker, runner, or biker to enjoy what the park has to offer. They even have days where they do historical hikes in the park that are very interesting. The history of the park is amazing”.
Patapsco Valley State Park’s history is what truly makes the park special to Bill, “The history of the park is amazing and the fact that it still has that goodness. It hasn’t been plowed up and developed for homes and how it has been maintained and it has had a role in the history of the U.S. When you go up and see where the Captain John Smith marker is, you can just go back and imagine you are Captain John Smith and look over the valley and realize you are standing right where he was. That’s really cool”.