Harris Creek

At the beginning of the 19th century, the far eastern edge of Baltimore was defined by Harris Creek, a modest tributary of the Patapsco that spilled into the river near where today Boston Street and Lakewood Avenue meet in the neighborhood of Canton. While the area remained sparsely settled, Harris Creek did feature one major enterprise - the shipyard of Samuel and Joseph Sterrett. The shipyard included a large blacksmith shop, sheds for boat builders and mastwrights, and a serviceable road back into Fells Point for workers and supplies. The Master Constructor at the shipyard was David Stodder, an experienced shipwright who held seventeen enslaved people, making him one of the largest slave-holders in Baltimore at the time.

Among the ships produced at the shipyard was the 600-ton Goliath, owned by Abraham Van Bibber who also co-owned the privateer sloop Baltimore Hero commanded by Thomas Waters during the Revolutionary War. Van Bibber reportedly intended the Goliath for the East India Trade. The most famous ship to sail down Harris Creek was the U.S. Frigate Constellation built in 1787. Stodder built the ship according to the design of Naval Constructor Joshua Humphreys. The Constellation was just one of six frigates that Humphreys designed in the 1790s to pursue Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean.

Harris Creek was filled in not long after the Civil War to make more land for the quickly growing Baltimore City and evidence of Canton's maritime past was literally buried. In 1908, locals uncovered the charred remains of a 130-foot clipper ship that had burned at its pier and had been buried 400 feet inland from the present-day shoreline. In the 1880s, Harris Creek was turned into a major municipal sewer with an outfall at Boston Street. In 1901, Baltimore constructed a brick arch bridge to carry Boston Street that has remained there through the present.


Harris Creek, 1869

Harris Creek, 1869

Image of Harris Creek excerpted from "E. Sachse, & Co.'s Bird's Eye View of the City of Baltimore, 1869." | Source: Library of Congress | Creator: E. Sachse & Co. View File Details Page

Street Address:

Boston Street Pier Park, Baltimore, MD 21224 [map]

Cite this Page:

“Harris Creek,” Battle of Baltimore, accessed November 21, 2019, http://www.battleofbaltimore.org/items/show/323.
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