rivers canals an historic district museums local artisans an underground railroad
Havre de Grace is at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of Chesapeake Bay. It is named after the French port city of Le Havre – the Harbor of Grace. During the Revolutionary War, the small hamlet known as Harmer’s Town was visited by General Lafayette who commented that the area reminded him of the French seaport.
George Washington stayed overnight in the town in 1789 on the journey to New York City for his first inauguration. During the First Congress in 1789, Havre de Grace missed by only one vote being named the capital of the fledgling United States.
Early Industry in Havre de Grace included oyster and crab harvesting as well as fruit orchards. Products were shipped to markets along the East Coast and upriver. Havre de Grace became known for duck hunting, and was a seasonal destination for hunters who hired local guides to escort them hunting on the river and along the bay.
Local Artisans Made High Quality Decoys on Display in the City’s Decoy Museum
The Southern Terminus of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal bypassed difficult navigational areas of the lower Susquehanna River between Havre de Grace and Wrightsville, Pennsylvania, where it connected to the Pennsylvania Canal. It was built between 1836–1840. The Lock Keeper’s house and remnants of the canal exist today as a museum.
The Underground Railroad Havre de Grace was a primary town on the Eastern Route as slaves crossed the Susquehanna to havens in Pennsylvania, on the way to Philadelphia and New York. By the 1860s, a large population of free African Americans had settled in the town, supporting independent artisans, as well as jobs associated with shipping on the river, canal and the railroads.
The Seneca Cannery, currently an antique shop, is a very good example of a late 19th century brick industrial building with its classical facade and massive stone buttresses on the rear. Many patents followed the opening of the S. J. Seneca Cannery: 1901, The Baling-press; 1905, The Cooker and the Tomato Scalder; 1917, Improved Tomato Scalder and the Can-opener; 1918, Tomato Peeling Machine.
The Central Business District was added to the National Register of Historic Places as the Havre de Grace Historic District, which recognizes its architecture and historic fabric. A variety of museums help explain and interpret the city’s rich maritime past and present: the Decoy Museum, the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, Concord Point Lighthouse, the Lockhouse Museum, the Black Eyed Susan paddle steamer. Havre de Grace also claims a renovated seaplane port.
The Environment the town is located on a freshwater wetland, tidal cove, and small forested area teeming with species of flora and fauna; the backdrop for generations of inhabitants, from the earliest Native tribes to the first European colonists in the 1600s, to today’s thriving 21st century community.
The Maritime Museum is a 10,000 square foot, three-story modern building adjacent to Concord Point Heritage Corridor, Havre de Grace’s historic district spanning five waterfront acres and a designated attraction on the National Park Service’s John Smith and Star Spangled Banner Trails.
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