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Beltsville, Maryland
Downtown Beltsville viewed from the top floor of the National Agricultural Library
Downtown Beltsville viewed from the top floor of the National Agricultural Library
Location of Beltsville, Maryland
Location of Beltsville, Maryland
Country  United States
State  Maryland
County Prince George's
 • Total 7.23 sq mi (18.73 km2)
 • Land 7.21 sq mi (18.66 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
135 ft (41 m)
 • Total 20,133
 • Density 2,793.92/sq mi (1,078.75/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area codes 301, 240
FIPS code 24-06400
GNIS feature ID 0597069

Beltsville is a census-designated place (CDP) in northern Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. The community was named for Truman Belt, a local landowner. The 2020 census counted 20,133 residents. Beltsville includes the unincorporated community of Vansville.


Beltsville is located at 39°2′15″N 76°55′4″W / 39.03750°N 76.91778°W / 39.03750; -76.91778 (39.037509, −76.917847), adjacent to the Montgomery CountyPrince George's County line. It is about 7 miles (11 km) northeast of the Maryland border with Washington, D.C.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Beltsville has a total area of 7.2 square miles (18.6 km2), of which 7.1 square miles (18.5 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 0.38%, is water.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Beltsville has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
2000 15,690
2010 16,772 6.9%
2020 20,133 20.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
2010 2020

2020 census

Beltsville CDP, Maryland - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 4,508 4,268 26.88% 21.20%
Black or African American alone (NH) 5,631 5,391 33.57% 26.78%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 34 37 0.20% 0.18%
Asian alone (NH) 1,582 1,646 9.43% 8.18%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 7 6 0.04% 0.03%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 81 148 0.48% 0.74%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 390 514 2.33% 2.55%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 4,539 8,123 27.06% 40.35%
Total 16,772 20,133 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.


Beltsville's history dates back to 1649, when the land was part of an 80,000-acre (324 km2) land grant given to Richard Snowden I by Lord Baltimore of England. Snowden and his family were planters who established large plantations on which they built comfortable manor homes. Soon after, other settlers moved into the area, but they were farmers who could only afford a few acres of land and whose families lived in small cabins. The principal crop was tobacco, most of which was shipped to England. Because of the fertile soil and desirable growing conditions, the crops prospered.

Industry came to Beltsville in the early 18th century when iron ore was discovered in the area. The Muirkirk Iron Furnace on US 1 was established by Andrew and Elias Elliott, who learned their iron-making skills in Muirkirk, Scotland. They produced some of the best-quality pig iron in the country and supplied the U.S. Army with cannons, shot, wheels, and other iron products during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

By 1730, Post Road (now part of US 1) was the main thoroughfare through Beltsville. Though crude, it made stagecoach travel possible. In 1783, Gabriel Peterson Van Horn established a stage line and built the Van Horn Tavern on Odell Road, where passengers could spend the night as they traveled between Baltimore and Washington. The trip took one and one-half days.

Beltsville boasts a distinguished Revolutionary War hero as its native son. Brigadier General Rezin Beall, who was born on Turkey Flight Plantation on Old Gunpowder Road in 1723, prevented a British invasion at Drum Point on the Chesapeake Bay with only 100 men. He is credited with the fact that there are no Revolutionary War battlefields in Maryland.

In 1835 one of the first rail lines in the country, the Washington branch of the B&O Railroad, was built through Prince George's County. Coming from Baltimore, the line entered the county at Laurel and ran southwesterly to Bladensburg, then into Washington. B&O established a rail stop and freight depot on land purchased from a tobacco farmer named Trueman Belt, and they named the place after him. The new community of Beltsville was doubly blessed, for the Baltimore-Washington Turnpike crossed the rail line there. It soon became a thriving little trading center, eclipsing the older community of Vansville further north on the pike.

The original area developed haphazardly and consisted of a few residences, two churches, several small stores, a blacksmith, and a wheelwright. In 1891, the Beltsville Land Improvement Company was chartered and over the next thirty years developed the South Beltsville subdivision as a grid of streets. The developers sold the lots to individual owners and placed restrictive covenants on the deeds, including forbidding the manufacture or sale of alcohol and the sale of any property to an African American. Beltsville was marketed to professionals who wanted to escape the congestion of Washington and was developed with a mixture of Victorian-style houses and Colonial Revival houses. The community grew further when an electric railway was extended to Beltsville. The railway began as the Berwyn and Laurel Electric Railroad, but after suffering from financial difficulties it was acquired by the City and Suburban Railway. Located to the west of the railroad, along the line of present-day Rhode Island Avenue, the streetcar line served as the nucleus for additional subdivisions. These areas continued to develop slowly throughout the 1930s and 1940s with the construction of modest side-gable residences. Development continued after the introduction of the automobile, but it was not until after World War II that intensive development came to the Beltsville area.

As the federal government grew, in 1910 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began to purchase land in Beltsville for its Agricultural Research Service, the main in-house research arm of the USDA. The land now houses the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC). The first parcel acquired was 375 acres (1.5 km2) of the Walnut Grange Plantation with its historic "Butterfly House". The Center eventually encompassed 14,600 acres (59 km2) and became the largest and most prominent center of agricultural science research in the world.

There are a number of historic homes and buildings still standing in Beltsville. The oldest home was built in 1773. One of the largest of the older buildings, built in 1880, was the three-story Ammendale Normal Institute, which was destroyed by fire in 1998.

Historic sites

The following is a list of historic sites in Beltsville and identified by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission: African-American Heritage Sites at nearby Rossville are listed at Muirkirk, Maryland.

Site Name Image Location M-NCPPC Inventory Number Comment
1 Abraham Hall Abraham Hall Dec 08.JPG 7612 Old Muirkirk Rd. 62-023-07 Located at Rossville. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 2005-03-14
2 Ammendale Normal Institute Ammendale SE 1990.jpg Jct. of Ammendale Rd. and U.S. 1 60-004 Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 1975-04-14; demolished 2006
3 Briarley Academy (Old Hotel) 11777 Old Baltimore Pike 62-010
4 Orme-Shaw House 11601 Caverly Avenue 61-002
5 McLeod House 11034 Montgomery Road 61-011
6 Dr. Charles Fox House (Coffin House) 4931 Powder Mill Road 61-007
7 Sellman House Building 023, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center West 61-012
8 St. John’s Episcopal Church 11040 Baltimore Avenue 61-009
9 St. Joseph’s Catholic Chapel Exterior of St. Josephs Chapel - Ammendale Normal Institute.jpg 6011 Ammendale Road 60-007 Listed on the National Register of Historic Places with Ammendale Normal Institute, 1975-04-14
10 Walnut Grange Powder Mill Road (Building 209), Beltsville Agricultural Research Center 62-013

Notable people

  • Johnny Beall, MLB player
  • Matthew Centrowitz Jr., Olympic runner
  • Frank Cho, comic book writer and illustrator
  • Goatman, cryptid
  • Lyle Goodhue, scientist and inventor
  • Cameron Wake, NFL player

In popular culture

Experimental post-hardcore band Thrice recorded the album The Illusion of Safety here and dedicated a song to the town, named "The Beltsville Crucible".



Beltsville's public schools are a part of the Prince George's County Public Schools system.

Public elementary schools include:

  • Beltsville Academy (K-8, formerly Beltsville Elementary School) on Wicomico Avenue
  • Calverton Elementary School on Beltsville Road in Calverton CDP
  • Vansville Elementary School (adjacent to the Beltsville CDP) on Ammendale Road

Public middle schools include:

  • Beltsville Academy on Wicomico Avenue
  • Martin Luther King Middle School on Ammendale Road

Public high schools include:

  • High Point High School on Powder Mill Road

There are three parochial schools in Beltsville: Augsburg Academy (Lutheran), St Joseph's School (Roman Catholic of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Washington), and Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist (SDA).

During the era of legally-required racial segregation of schools, black students from Beltsville attended Lakeland High School in College Park in the period 1928-1950; Fairmont Heights High School, then near Fairmount Heights, replaced Lakeland High and served black students only from 1950 to 1964; around 1964 legally-required racial segregation of schools ended.


Prince George's County Memorial Library System operates the Beltsville Branch.

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