Port Deposit Heritage
Captain John Smith first explored the area that is now Port Deposit around 1608, a time when the only inhabitants were the Susquehannock Indians. The town that subsequently emerged there on the Susquehanna River was known as Creswell's Ferry prior to 1812. As time went on, the town became a heavily used port where products like lumber, grain, coal, and whiskey were unloaded for trading. There were outgoing goods also-blocks of granite cut from the cliffs behind the town and fish culled from the river-but it was the incoming trade that gave the town its final name-Port Deposit.
In the 1830s, Jacob Tome, who had made a fortune in lumber and banking, came to Port Deposit and placed his mark on the town. He built the Jacob Tome Institute and endowed it generously for the benefit of the children of the town. His intention was to ensure that the children received a superior education without cost to their parents. Two of the school buildings in town remain, and there are several others located on the cliff above the town.
There have been many changes in Port Deposit over the years; the population that once was greater than 2,000 was down to about 750 at the end of the 20th century- although it was starting to grow again. Being located between the river and the granite cliffs, the place has been dubbed "the town that couldn't grow," but that characterization has been squelched by the annexation of 125 acres of the Bainbridge property and the forthcoming annexation of the remaining 1,125 acres. When that occurs, Port Deposit will have more than tripled in size.
A heritage greenway trail along the river front is being created as a potential link to other towns and as an extension of recreational and cultural activities within the town. Revitalization projects have been initiated-the main business area has new sidewalks, curbing, streetlights, and benches; utility lines have been buried underground; and the once industrial-zoned waterfront has been transformed into a residential condominium and marina complex. The town is on the National Register of Historic Places; its buildings and homes display an eclectic assortment of Georgian, Victorian, Italianate, and Federal styles, providing instant architectural history in a pleasant walking tour.
At the start of the 21st century, the townspeople of Port Deposit are ready to share their growing town with new residents, new business owners, and visitors.
Maryland Municipal League - Port Deposit
Pictures - Pictorial History
Port Deposit Web Site - Port Deposit
Port Deposit History - Our History
Paw Paw Museum - The Paw Paw Museum
Paw Paw Museum - History - Year by Year
Capt. John Smith 400 - John Smith 400