The Susquehanna Museum of Havre de Grace really marks the beginning of the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay opens up on one side of the city, supported by the flow of the Susquehanna River from the north. The museum is located in the lock house at what once was the southern terminus of the Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal, which operated from 1840-1897. The canal was pivotal in the development of the lower Susquehanna River Valley. It connected with the Pennsylvania Canal at Columbia and the Conestoga Canal at Safe Harbor, opening central Pennsylvania to trade with Baltimore and Philadelphia. The lock house, built in 1840, served as the toll collector’s office and home of the lock tender.
In 1982, the lock house was restored and opened to the public with historical artifacts of the Havre de Grace area on display. It is open year-round Thursday through Monday from 1-5 PM (closed Tuesday and Wednesday). Admission is free but donations are appreciated. The last time I was there a group of school kids was getting a tour. They even got to help the docents maneuver a pivot bridge across a piece of the canal.
At the point where the Susquehanna River enters the Chesapeake Bay stands the Concord Point Lighthouse; this lighthouse has protected many vessels from the dangerous waters for approximately 150 years.
The lighthouse was built in 1827 to protect vessels from the dangerous currents and shoals at the mouth of the Susquehanna. It continued to serve until it was decommissioned by the US Coast Guard in 1975. It was built by John Donohoo (a prominent lighthouse contractor), who built 12 of the first 17 lighthouses found on the Chesapeake Bay; he also served as Town Commissioner in the early 1800s.
The lighthouse is now under automatic control but was originally manned by the O'Neill family until 1928.
The lighthouse grounds are open year-round. The lighthouse itself is open for visits on Saturdays and Sundays between 13:00 and 17:00 from April to October (closed holidays).
Havre de Grace has a lovely Promenade that runs for a half mile along the edge of the Chesapeake Bay, starting at Tydings Park and ending at the Concord Point Lighthouse.
This short stroll will give you an opportunity to see plenty of waterfowl and will be a pleasure for ornithologists.
The Promenade is open daily from sunrise to 23:00 with bicycling permitted only from sunrise until 10:00; fishing is permitted from the promenade but in designated areas only.
Dogs, rollerblades, skates (and skateboards) as well as alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the promenade.
Take a sunset dinner cruise on the Lantern Queen and enjoy a narrated tour of the historic sights of Havre de Grace while cruising the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. The cruise schedule varies by the time of year. A 2-hour public dinner cruise costs $45.00. I have not actually done this myself, but it sure sounds good. The Lantern Queen is a replica of a famous Mississippi paddlewheel riverboat and holds 140 passengers. Between cruises, she stays moored at a pier in Frank J. Hutchins Memorial Park, a small city park on the Bay where locals like to fish. The park also has public restrooms.
This is the home of John O'Neil the first keeper of the lighthouse. This is located directly across the street from the Concord Point Light House.
This building has seen many different occupants. In the 1950's it had two additions added to each side of it and was made into a night club called The Home Stretch.
In the early 1960's when most of this area of Harford County was still under racial segregation the building housed an African American bar and nightclub. I lived just one block away as a child and remember sitting out late at night and listening the the music from the night club on the weekend and enjoying the sounds. Although it was considered off limits due to the racial segregation of the times.
In the late 1960's and early 1970's it became the Light House Inn. Segregation had ended and the building was no longer an African American bar. But the music still played loud on the weekends and the water front carried the echo.
The nightclubs all eventually disappeared and the building was vacant and falling to ruin for many years. Recently the property was obtained by the city. The two additions to the sides of the building were removed and it has been restored to its original appearance. It is now the Light House Keepers Museum and is open to the public.
This is a large hydroelectric dam situated on the Lower Susquehanna River.
One of the largest non-federal hydroelectric dams within America and is a medium height, masonry gravity type dam. It is located in Maryland and spans both the Cecil and Harford county border being almost 10 miles from the river mouth at the Chesapeake Bay.
The dam is named for the town of Conowingo, Maryland with the original town being located under the waters of the reservoir created by the dam. The town was relocated during the construction of the dam and is now located about a mile northeast of the dam's eastern end.
It is a popular location for fishing.
This State Park is located in the river valley of the Susquehanna River. There is great variety of scenery with a great forest cover that gives wonderful canopy and massive rock outcroppings. There are plenty of outdoor activities, including hiking (trail guides are available on the website listed below), mountain bike trails, boating and fishing in the Susquehanna River itself.
Accommodation is offered in campsites and cabins.
If you want to step back in time, a visit to the Rock Run Historical Area will give you an opportunity to see a working grist mill, the Archer Mansion, Jersey Toll House and the remains of the Susquehanna Tidewater Canal.
Situated near where the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay, this museum tells the story of the region's maritime heritage through educational exhibits, monthly lectures, and programs like the Chesapeake Wooden Boat Builders School and the Susquehanna Flats Environmental Center.
US$2.50 Seniors (60+) & students
Children under 8 free
Guided Tours $4 per person - available by appointment
September through May
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00
June through August
Open 7 days 10:00 to 17:00
The Concord Point Lighthouse Keeper's cottage is newly restored and gives an insight into the life of John O'Neill, the first Keeper of the Light.
Each night, he would leave his house and climb the 27 stairs and 6-rung iron ladder to the top of the lighthouse. He would attend the light, refilling the oil, three times each night, thereby protecting the ships travelling through the Bay and up the Susquehanna River.
In 1920, the lighthouse became automated and the house was subsequently sold, with a colourful array of tenants until, eventually, in 1988 the State of Maryland purchase the house and it was given to the City of Havre de Grace.
The house can be visited on Saturdays and Sundays from 13:00 to 17:00 during April through October (holidays excepted).
Havre de Grace is where you will find the convergence of the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. The Susquehanna River is 444 miles long (making it the longest river on the American east coast) and has its source in New York state.
The river provides almost half the freshwater flow into the Chesapeake Bay and attracts many fishermen for its wealth of fishing.
At this site near Havre de Grace, you will find two historic markers which read:
Site of 'Old Baltimore' -->
The first County Seat of Baltimore County, 1659 to 1700, was located on Bush River. In 1683 it was made a Port of Entry by the Maryland Assembly.
The town of Old Baltimore was on the bank of the Bush River opposite the sign, in the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground. Later nearby Joppatowne, then the city of Baltimore became the county's capital.
The second marker reads:
Captain John Smith
in 1608 ascended this river to this point. On his map he called it after his home in England “Willowbyes Flu” or river. Now Bush River.
John Smith gained his fame when he founded the first permanent English settlement in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia.
From the mouth of the Susquehanna River there are four bridges in Havre de Grace. They are, in order, the Amtrak Susquehanna River Bridge, Thomas J Hatem Memorial Bridge on US Route 40, the CSX railroad bridge, and the Interstate 95 bridge.
Amtrak Susquehanna River Bridge is a double-track bridge was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad between 1904–1906 to connect Washington DC and New York City. Two railroad mainlines cross this span with more than 80 daily Amtrak passenger trains.
Thomas J Hatem Memorial Bridge carries US Route 40 over the Susquehanna River, and it allows 11.1 million vehicles to cross each year. A $5 toll on two-axle vehicles is collected in the eastbound direction only. The 1.3-mile, four-lane bridge was constructed from February 1939 to August 1940, and it is the oldest of the seven toll facilities operated and maintained by the Maryland Transportation Authority. The bridge, as of 2009 is under construction as a new deck is installed.
Perryville Railroad Bridge is CSX Transportation's rail bridge used used mainly for freight. It was built around 1908 and it has a one mile span crossing the Susquehanna and Garrett Island.
Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge is Interstate 95's crossing of the Susquehanna north of town. It was constructed from 1962 to 1963, and it carries some 29 million vehicles a year. There is a $5 toll for all northbound traffic.
Havre de Grace has a nice little waterfront downtown area hugging the shore of the Susquehanna River. Here the historic downtown is laid out in a traditional grid pattern with St. John Street angled following the water. The main commercial streets are St. John and Washington Streets.
This area has a handful of historic markers including:
Named for the French General whose troops passed through here in 1781 en route to Yorktown. Records of the French Army noted plans were underway for a town at this place when the troops returned from Yorktown in 1782.
Erected 1985 by The City of Havre de Grace in celebration of its Bicentennial.
Old Post Road
Susquehanna Lower Ferry
Public Ferry ordered established by the Council of Maryland 1695 for travel between north and south. General Washington and many notable men used this ferry, also, the Continental Army and soldiers of War Between the States.
Erected 1985 by The City of Havre de Grace in celebration of its Bicentennial.
Millard Tydings Memorial Park is connected to the old Bayou Hotel and the Concord Lighthouse by the town's scenic waterfront Promenade.
The park lies on the south end of the historic downtown, and it features a boat launch, a war memorial, picnic areas, a pavilion, restrooms, plenty of parking, and a children's playground. It has eight acres of land overlooking the Chesapeake Bay and the Havre de Grace City Yacht Basin.
Concord Point is the name of a point of land where the Susquehanna River empties into the Chesapeake Bay. The point is said to have been originally named Point of Conquest which later became Conquered Point before finally transforming into its present form.
At this point in 1827 the Concord Point Lighthouse was constructed of granite that is three feet thick at the base. The lighthouse was automated in 1920 and decommissioned in 1975. Until it was decommissioned, the Concord Point Lighthouse was known as the oldest lighthouse in continuous use in Maryland. The sign at the lighthouse goes even further to state it is currently the oldest continuously operated lighthouse in all of the United States!
Located about 200 feet from the lighthouse is the keeper's house, which is also constructed of granite. The lighthouse became an inn after the light was automated, but it was restored and is now a museum.
The most famous event at the lighthouse occurred in the War of 1812. John O'Neil was an Irish immigrant who commanded about 50 men whose job was to protect the town from amphibious assault. On May 3, 1813, British Admiral George Cockburn's ships attacked the town. All of O'Neil's men fled, but he stayed and single handedly fired a cannon at the British fleet. He was later captured and sentenced to execution, but the pleas of his daughter were able to secure his release. He later became the town commissioner and first lighthouse keeper at Concord Point. Many of his children and grandchildren also served as light keepers in later years.
A plaque at the lighthouse reads:
Concord Point Lighthouse
Havre de Grace, Md
Erected at the mouth of the Susquehanna River in 1827, it is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation in the United States. Now under automatic control, it was manned by the O’Neill Family until 1928. John O’Neill was named as the first lighthouse keeper in recognition his heroic defense of Havre de Grace against the British during the War of 1812.
A nearby cannon describes John O'Neil's heroism:
This cannon of the War of 1812
marks the site of the battery on Concord Point
served the guns single handed during the
British attack upon Havre de Grace
May 3, 1813 until disabled and captured.
He was released from the British frigate Maid Stone through the intercession of his young daughter, Matilda, to whom Admiral Cockburn gave his gold-mounted snuff-box in a token of her heroism. As a tribute to the gallant conduct of her father, the citizens of Philadelphia presented to him a handsome sword.
Erected by the citizens of Havre de Grace and the descendants of John O'Neill in the year of the National Star-Spangled Banner Centennial 1914.