Harris Creek

At the close of the eighteenth century, the far eastern edge of Baltimore was marked by Harris Creek, a modest tributary of the Patapsco that spilled into the River near where Boston Street and Lakewood Avenue in Canton today. In an area of Baltimore that was still 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 mast wrights, 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 slaveholders 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 launched in 1797. (The second USS Constellation, built in 1854, contains portions of this original.) 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.

While Harris Creek was filled in during the early nineteenth century to make more land for the quickly growing Baltimore City, evidence of Canton's maritime past endured. 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 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.



Boston Street Pier Park, Baltimore, MD 21224