The land first surveyed by Thomas Browne the "Patuxent Ranger" in 1700. In the mid-1700s the Quaker grandson of one of Maryland's first ore producers, Richard Snowden purchased tracts of land up the Patuxent River Valley. Fulton was known as Queen Caroline Parish. In 1803 Rezin Hammond settled on a parcel of land, and by 1805 Fulton was known as Hammond Directions and Snowden Second Addition. In 1855 immigrants settled in the area.
By 1871, St Paul's Lutheran was founded to serve the German farming community and was expanded in 1933. By 1878 Fulton opened school house #3, a one-room school house for white children a half mile west of town that operated until 1939. The area was referred to as "Water's Store", for Richard Waters blacksmith operation and post office which opened on December 29,1874.
The name was changed to "Fulton", after the popular Baltimore Sun Editor Charles C. Fulton on March 28, 1982. Albert W Bradey purchased the Fulton corner stores of his father and Smallwood operating it, until his death in a house fire at the age of 90.
In 1839 Heinrich Lager purchased 108 acres of farmland expanding to 185 acres forming Maple Lawn Farms. In 1938, the farm began its current free-range turkey operations under "ShoNuf" Brand name. The farm was nationally recognized in 2004 for the registered Holsteins used in its dairy operations. The Ellsworth lager farm took advantage of cheap POW labor through 1945.
In the late 1990s, Fulton sat between the heavily developed areas of eastern Howard County, with water and sewer service, and the preserved western areas which used well water. Developer Greenebaum & Rose Associates proposed a dense 1168-unit mixed use project for a portion of the 506-acre farm. In January 1998, Councilman Darrell Drown felt that the zoning would take only a night or two, and accommodated the developer with expedited hearings. The first phase of zoning faced multiple contentious votes and 32 record-length hearings pro-development and rural supporters.
In 2013, the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning sought to expand water and sewer service so that the remaining Maple Lawn property could be developed at maximum density. A 7000-person referendum attempt was launched and suppressed by the landowners' attorney, William Erskine, which sits on the economic development agency as well as the same law firm as County Executive Ken Ulman's father.
Historic local places of worship include Grace Community Church, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and St. Paul's Lutheran Church, which was built in the 1870s by a group of mostly German families after originally meeting in each other's homes since the 1860s.
Fulton is located in southern Howard County, bordered on the south by the Patuxent River and on the east by U.S. 29. The community of Scaggsville is to the east across U.S. 29, and the Montgomery County community of Burtonsville is to the south across the Patuxent. Maryland Route 216 (Scaggsville Road) is the main east-west road through Fulton. Downtown Baltimore is 21 Miles to the northeast, and downtown Washington, D.C. is 19 miles to the south. Columbia is 5 miles to the north up US 29.
The community is served by area code 410, 443, or 667, and by ZIP code 20759, and is located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., just minutes from Columbia, Maryland.
Reservoir High School, Lime Kiln Middle School, Fulton Elementary School and Cedar Lane School are all located in Fulton. Located in Fulton are a post office, High's Store, and Ledo Pizza.
Other retail establishments include Fulton Family Chiropractic, Fulton Station Jewelers, Fulton Animal Hospital, Fulton Wine & Spirits, Hilities Beauty, Nail Boutique at Fulton Station, Computer Country, Evergreen Stables, and the Studio at Fulton (a local pottery store).
Adjacent to the northeast border of Fulton is one of the largest employers in Howard County, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
Maple Lawn, a mixed residential and commercial community which opened in 2004/2005, was developed by Greenbaum & Rose Associates and has brought a "Main Street" style shopping district with stores such as Harris Teeter, Hyatt & company. Clothing, Sidamo Coffee & Tea, Wine, Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, Ranazul Tapas Wine & Bistro, The Grill, The Pearl Spa & Boutique, Looney's Pub, Pet Barn, Bra-La-La, BP Maple Lawn Market. Four large office buildings house a number of corporate tenants.
Beaufort Park, one of the local neighborhoods, was described by The Washington Post on July 4, 1998, as "A Sea of Tranquility Set in a Watershed, A Parklike Setting in Howard County."