Port Deposit, Maryland

Port Deposit, Maryland

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Port Deposit, Maryland
settlement_type = Town
nickname =
motto =

imagesize =
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imagesize =
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mapsize = 250x200px
map_caption = Location of Port Deposit, Maryland

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =

subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = Maryland
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name2 = Cecil
government_footnotes =
government_type =
leader_title =
leader_name =
leader_title1 =
leader_name1 =
established_title =
established_date =

unit_pref = Imperial
area_footnotes =
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 4.3
area_land_km2 = 4.3
area_water_km2 = 0.0
area_total_sq_mi = 1.7
area_land_sq_mi = 1.7
area_water_sq_mi = 0.0

population_as_of = 2000
population_footnotes =
population_total = 676
population_density_km2 = 156.3
population_density_sq_mi = 404.8

timezone = Eastern (EST)
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 15
elevation_ft = 49
latd = 39 |latm = 36 |lats = 39 |latNS = N
longd = 76 |longm = 6 |longs = 1 |longEW = W

postal_code_type = ZIP code
postal_code = 21904
area_code = 410
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 24-63075
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0591049
website =
footnotes =

Port Deposit is a town in Cecil County, Maryland, United States. It is located on the north bank of the Susquehanna River near its discharge into the Chesapeake Bay. The population was 676 at the 2000 census.


Port Deposit is located at coor dms|39|36|39|N|76|6|1|W|city (39.610915, -76.100172)GR|1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 1.7 square miles (4.3 km²), all of it land.


Early History

Captain John Smith led two expeditions up the Chesapeake Bay in 1608 and 1609. His was the first recorded European visit to the area, getting upriver from the Chesapeake Bay about convert|2|mi|km to the present location of Port Deposit. He named the rapids on Susquehanna which started just above Port Deposit as "Smythe Fayles." [Later to be identified as Conowingo] * [http://www.mdhc.org/resources/lshgreport.pdf A History of Maryland’s Lower Susquehanna Region] ]

The upper ferry

The town (or cluster of dwellings) existed under several names including "The Upper Ferry" and "Creswell's Ferry" before 1812. In 1729 Thomas Cresap established a regular ferry service near Smith's Falls (in the upper Port Deposit area) crossing the Susquehanna to Lapidum; this was referred to as Smith’s Ferry or Upper Ferry [There was a lower ferry at the mouth of the Susquehanna River.] . In 1731 a road from Susquehanna Upper Ferry toward Philadelphia, as far as the jurisdiction extends, was authorized. In the same year, in the jurisdiction south of the river, a petition was submitted for a road from the mill at "Rock Run" [There were Rock Run mills on both sides of the Susquehanna near both ends of the bridge - one in Port Deposit and one above Lapidum at the bridge head on the south side/] to Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania. This upper ferry was later purchased by Colonel John Creswell and came to be known as "Creswell's Ferry".cite book|author= Johnston, George |title= History Of Cecil County, Md, And The Early Settlements Around The Head Of Chesapeake Bay And On The Delaware River |publisher=Regional Publishing, Baltimore |year=1881 (reprint 1972) |id=ISBN ]

This location and Lapidum across the river were the Northern-most navigable deep water ports on the Susquehanna River, allowing access for ship traffic from the Chesapeake Bay. Ships from the Chesapeake met river barges and wagons loaded with lumber, grain, coal, whiskey, tobacco and other goods floated down river to this "port of deposit". In the early days it was difficult to float goods downriver, since there were many rapids and hazards, but it still remained the most convenient way for goods to leave much of the country drained by the Susquehanna above the falls. Further, since a number of roads were constructed to converge at the ferry crossing, goods could be carted or “rolled” [It was common in the early colonies to load goods in large sturdy barrels or drums, which were then hitched to oxen and rolled to their destination.] Maryland A to Z: a topographical dictionary by Marion J. Kaminkow; Magna Carta Book Co.; Baltimore, MD, U.S.A.; 1985.] [http://www.portdeposit.com/History/PortDeposit_NHR.htm| Port Deposit Application as National Historic Site] ]

As early as the 1790s, the forests on the Susquehanna were being logged and the timbers floated downriver to points near the ferry landing. In 1812 the town was platted as Creswell’s Landing, and that same year Governor Levin Winder signed the bill changing the name from Creswell’s Landing to Port Deposit to prevent the continued confusion resulting from multiple unofficial names.

The canal

The Susquehanna Canal (which had several owners and several names over the years, including the Maryland Canal) was completed in 1812 and contributed much toward the town's growth. Until the canal was placed in service bypassing Smith's Falls, most of the traffic stopped at Lapidum, across the Susquehanna River since it was easier to run the rapids on the south side. However the new canal, the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal on the north side of the river funneled the barge traffic into Port Deposit, stimulating rapid growth.

Granite and bridges

The Port Deposit Bridge Company was incorporated in 1808 for the purpose of constructing a bridge across the Susquehanna. These initial attempts failed, and in 1812 the Legislature authorized another company to proceed. They commissioned a survey, which was completed in 1813. It included the first written reference to Port Deposit, where one end of the bridge was to be located. This first survey proposed a location that complied with the law, but was longer than necessary. After petitioning for relief, the company was allowed to route the bridge closer to the falls, a route that required a convert|1000|ft|m shorter bridge structure. The Port Deposit Bridge, put into service in 1818, was the earliest bridge crossing of the Susquehanna River in Maryland. The wooden covered bridge was constructed just north of Port Deposit between 1817 and 1818 and had to be rebuilt after a span burned in 1823. It was reconstructed and remained in service until 1857.

An area of convert|4|acre|m2 at the north end of Port Deposit was condemned for the purpose of quarrying granite [ The formation is known by geologists as Port Deposit Granite and is a granodiorite gneiss. This granite had a dark color and an even granular texture which made it easy to work; it was prized as a building stone.] for bridge construction. The general area had been the site for granite quarrying even before the bridge was constructed as there was use of this specific granite in buildings constructed prior to the Revolutionary War. This granite can be seen in many of the distinctive buildings in Port Deposit today.

Granite quarries were also opened here in 1829 by the proprietors of a competitor canal, the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal between Havre de Grace, Maryland and Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, for canal construction projects routed along the opposite bank of the Susquehanna.

These granite quarries continued in service well into the 20th century. Port Deposit Granite was used in:
* Many houses and five churches in Port Deposit
* Schools like the U.S. Naval Academy, Haverford College and Catholic University
* Fort McHenry, Fort Delaware and Fort Carroll
* Public buildings like the Boston Public Library and the U.S. Treasury Building
* Public works like the Concord Point Lighthouse, Lincoln Tunnel and the St Augustine seawall


Port Deposit was incorporated in 1824.

Arrival of the railroad

In 1832 Maryland chartered the Delaware and Maryland Rail Road Company to build from Port Deposit on the Susquehanna River to the Delaware state line. The "Wilmington and Susquehanna Rail Road Company" was also chartered in 1832 in Delaware to continue the line to Wilmington. The two companies merged in 1836 to form the "Wilmington and Susquehanna Railroad Company". The rest of the line to Baltimore, the "Baltimore and Port Deposite Rail Road Company", was chartered in Maryland in 1832. On February 12, 1838, the three companies merged to form a new "Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad Company", authorized to build a continuous line from Philadelphia to Baltimore. The main line passed below Port Deposit, which was finally connected by a branch line in 1866, passing up the Susquehanna River from Perryville. In 1893 this branch was sold to the "Columbia and Port Deposit Railway", also PRR-controlled, which connected with it at Port Deposit.

Jacob Tome

Jacob Tome arrived in Port Deposit Maryland a penniless man and at his death was one of the richest men in the United States. It is a comment on the character of Port Deposit that he rose to become Cecil County's first millionaire as well as its greatest Philanthropist. The Tome mansion (built in 1850 but no longer standing) was the largest house in Port Deposit. He founded the Tome School, originally located on Main Street in Port Deposit, in 1889. He died on March 16 1898 in Port Deposit, leaving a substantial endowment for the Jacob Tome Institute. After 1898 the Jacob Tome School for Boys built a series of beaux arts granite buildings on the bluffs above Port Deposit, overlooking the Susquehanna River. CP-TOME interlocking on the railroad line through downtown Port Deposit is named in his honor.

Damming the Susquehanna

The Susquehanna drops convert|167|ft|m as it passes through the region above Port Deposit, as it cuts though the hard rock of the region. This characteristic, which had long been good for Port Deposit, also attracted power companies in the boom period after World War I. The Conowingo Dam, built in 1927, permanently changed the character of the town by terminating all river traffic and decimating what was left of the shad and herring fishery which was once found there. Port Deposit benefited from the dam as well; destructive accumulations of ice (referred to as ice gouges) no longer accumulated in the Conowingo Rapids or passed through Port Deposit.

Other industry

A major industry in Port Deposit, Wiley's Manufacturing, fabricated the Fort McHenry Tunnel sections. They were floated and towed to the Baltimore construction site using tugboats. Construction was completed in 1985.

Membership on the National Historic Registry

The entire town of Port Deposit was placed on the National Historic Registry on May 23, 1978. The town has a number of impressive older buildings, many built of the local granite or brick. The oldest structures in town historic district date from 1725 to 1928; the majority of these buildings were built from 1830 through 1890's.

The town remained largely unspoilt by new construction until the late 20th century, since there was little room for construction. The bulk of the older buildings line the main street and the, until recently, single side street built in the narrow space between the bluffs and the river. The bluffs have been terraced and stairways lead between streets. Adams Hall, formerly part of the Tome Institute, became the Town Hall; the only remains of the Tome Institute's former Washington Hall is the granite doorway which separates the Main Street from a parking lot today.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 676 people, 264 households, and 163 families residing in the town. The population density was 404.8 people per square mile (156.3/km²). There were 402 housing units at an average density of 240.7/sq mi (92.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 78.85% White, 17.75% African American, 0.44% Native American, 0.59% Asian, 0.59% from other races, and 1.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.63% of the population.

There were 264 households out of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.1% were married couples living together, 21.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the town the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 109.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.0 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $34,167, and the median income for a family was $37,813. Males had a median income of $32,083 versus $21,932 for females. The per capita income for the town was $15,297. About 19.4% of families and 22.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.4% of those under age 18 and 12.8% of those age 65 or over.

Famous residents

*John Conard (1773 - 1857) served in the U.S. House of Representatives and settled near Port Deposit for 1834-1851 after retiring from politics.
* Jacob Tome
*Joseph Irwin France (1873 – 1939) taught at the Tome School in Port Deposit for a period and later was a United States Senator(1917-1923).
*John A. J. Creswell (born 1828 in Port Deposit) was a United States Senator (1865-1867) and United States Postmaster General (1869 and 1874).
*James Devereux (1903 – 1988), who attended the Tome School, was a Marine General during the defense of Wake Island in December 1941 and later served in the United States House of Representatives (1951–1959).
*Admiral Frank B. Kelso II (1933 - ), who later became Chief of Naval Operations, served as Commanding Officer, U.S. Naval Nuclear Power School at the U.S. Naval Training Center Bainbridge from 1969-1971.

See also

* Tome School
* U.S. Naval Training Center Bainbridge

External links

* [http://www.PortDeposit.com Local history and photographs]
* [http://www.portdeposit.org Town Council]
* [http://www.portdepositcc.org Chamber of Commerce]

References and notes

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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