Dundalk's Timeline
Friday, 08 May 2009 12:07

Dundalk's Timeline 

by Terri Narrell Mause (written 1995)


There are probably few areas in the nation as full of history as that of the North Point peninsula. The following is a sampling of local historical trends and events during the last 100 years.
Henry McShaneπs bell foundry in Baltimore, built in 1856, had become world famous. The foundryπs church bells rang out across nearly every state and across the world, and the company, which also produced piping and plumbing fixtures, had as much business as it could handle.
When part of the foundry burned in 1893, McShane decided to relocate in a wilderness area off the Patapsco River. He built his foundry, along with a grand summer vacation home, near what is now the site of American Legion Post 38.
The railroad line followed the foundry to the area in 1895, and officials told the McShanes that they must choose a name for the railroad stop.William James McShane, Henryπs son and the vice-president of the foundry, wrote ≥Dundalk,ππ the name of his fatherπs hometown in Ireland, on a board and nailed it to a tree near the railroad. The town, with only a few farming families to claim as residents, was born.
The McShanes sold the bell foundry to Central Foundry in 1900 and their Dundalk Avenue mansion later became the Maryland Swimming Club. But the Irish names of the familyπs railroad stop remained.

In 1916, Dundalk boasted 62 homes, one church and two stores. The same year, Bethlehem Steel bought its Sparrows Point plant from the Maryland Steel Company. The result: Dundalk became one of the countryπs first planned communities.
The steel giant created the Dundalk Company, which purchased 1,000 acres of land near McShaneπs railroad stop. The company hired E.H. Bouton, designer of Roland Park, to create a ≥workingmenπs Roland Park.ππ The community was designed to be close enough to the Point to commute to work, but far enough away from workers to escape the noise of the mills.
With the United Statesπ entry into World War I in April 1917, there was an immediate housing need for Bethlehem Steelπs defense workers and shipbuilders. The government took over the Dundalk Companyπs project and sold houses to workers as much as 50 percent below construction costs. One report said the houses ≠ 531 in Dundalk and 284 in St. Helena ≠ were raised as quickly as one every three hours. Bethlehem Steel offered assistance to its employees by providing the cash needed for down payments on the stucco homes.
The following timeline lists a sampling of incidents that have shaped Dundalk in its past 100 years. It is not exhaustive.
May 1895: Local tavern owners complain that farmers using human waste to fertilize their crops are causing health problems on the peninsula, prompting the State Board of Health to ban use of the ≥night soil.ππ Seventy truck farmers tells a board member that the tavern owners are angry because of the farmersπ stand against the sale of liquor on Sunday, and the complaint was retaliatory. A doctor says that the health of the peninsulaπs population is very good, as are the crops. The ban is lifted.
1895: The areaπs first U.S. Post Office is established in St. Helena. Residents before had to travel to Baltimore or Sparrows Point to pick up mail.
A temporary halt in the construction of the Wise Avenue drawbridge is reported.
1896: The Jerk Water Electric trolley line is built across Colgate Creek. Residents ride free.
1898: City and Suburban Railway purchases Riverview Park, an amusement park on Broening Highway that would grow to draw as many as 600,000 people a season.
1900: Bay Shore Amusement Park opens on Hart-Miller Island.
July 1912: The first telephone service, the St. Helena Exchange, is opened. It includes an exchange and 20 phones.
1917: Fort Holabird is established.
1918: Ten families reportedly live in Turner Station.
May 17, 1918: Charles Knight of Wolfe Street breaks a world record by driving 4,875 rivets in nine hours. Knight and his crew pledge to be back on the job bright and early the next day ≥for it is realized by them that world records in riveting, with the nation at war and crying for tonnage to defeat the Hun, are short lived,ππ according to a newspaper article.
July 1, 1919: A dirigible explodes and lands in a fiery ball at St. Helena. The explosion shatters windows and shakes houses for miles around.
1920: Dundalk police and fire station opens on Shipping Place.
November 1, 1920: The Post Office moves to the Dunleer Building and carrier service begins.
1920: Dundalkπs population reaches 4,162.
1921: Dundalk Avenue Bridge is built from the southern end of Dundalk Avenue to Sparrows Point as a profit-making venture. Tolls are 10 cents. Tolls will not increase until 1977, when they are raised to 25 cents.
1926: The Strand Theater opens.
1929: Riverview Park closes and its property is sold to Western Electric.
July 6, 1920: Lt. Patrick H. Logan, a popular military flyer, is fatally injured when his flying Jenny crashes at the new Dundalk Flying Field.
November 15, 1920: The Dundalk Flying Field is officially dedicated and renamed Logan Field in honor of the fallen pilot. Logan Field would later give way to a shopping center and residential area.
February 1929: Construction begins on a municipal airport. Logan Field had been used as the city airport for a long time, but the city tired of paying lease money and decided to construct its own on land where Dundalk Marine Terminal will later be located.
May 6, 1929: The first airmail arrives at Logan Field from New York and Philadelphia.
1930: Amelia Earhart visits Logan Field.
1933: Charles Lindbergh visits and praises the airfield.
March 1932: In the midst of the Great Depression, the Dundalk Company plows up 200 acres and allots garden plots to unemployed Bethlehem Steel workers. The plots can sustain an average family if farmed correctly, the company says.
July 18, 1932: A Dundalk grocer, forced to close by hard financial times, posts overdue bills in his closed shopπs window, attracting ≥no end of attention from persons anxious to see whether their debts are being publicized and those curious to see just how much their neighbors owe.ππ
1938: The Queensway home development project is announced. Homes are advertised at $4,000. Inverness ≥is already a good sized community and building is still going on,ππ according to an article.
August 1939: Baltimore American reports that Dundalkπs population has grown to 8,000. Fifty percent, it says, are employed at Sparrows Point, and the rest at Western Electric, General Motors, Crown Cork and Seal, Standard Oil and elsewhere.
Steelworkers vote to establish Locals 2609 and 2610, United Steelworkers of America.
Late 1930s: Don Might takes over as manager of Snake Hole, which is renamed Dundalk Bathing Beach. Snake Hole would later be closed to swimmers because of pollution in the 1950s.
1938: Heritage Association is founded. Though parades had been held for many years ≠†one in St. Helena was documented as early as 1915 ≠ the event became an annual one.
1941: The post office moves from the Dunleer Building to a newly built brick edifice on Center Place. Construction costs $88,000.
1943: With the onset of World War II, temporary Sollers Homes are built near Turner Station for defense workers. Dundalk area men and women distinguish themselves by sacrificing everyday conveniences and working in defense plants toward an Allied victory.
1947: Bay Shore Park closes.
April 1948: Dundalk reports 55 fraternal and civic organizations.
1950s: Three hundred Sollers Homes are demolished. Hundreds more will be torn down in 1966.
1954: More than 2,000 Dundalk men and women lose their jobs when Signal Depot moves to Tobyhanna, Pa.
1958: Sparrows Point becomes the largest steel plant in the world with the addition of blast furnace K.
1958: Steelworkers stage longest strike in Bethlehem Steel history.
1960: Greater Dundalkπs population hits 80,000.
1967: With desegregation under way, the last Turner Station school, Fleming Elementary, closes.
1968: Peninsula Highway Bridge is built.
1973: The last company homes in the town of Sparrows Point are torn down to make room for Bethlehem Steel expansion. The company says upkeep of homes is too expensive.
1977: Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge opens, completing the final link in the Baltimore Beltway. Ben R. Womer, historian, is responsible for the memorial tribute to Key, the author of our national anthem. Originally, the bridge was to be called the Outer Harbor Crossing.
1980: Baltimore County inspection reveals that Dundalk Avenue Bridge has serious structural damage. Traffic is limited and recommendation is made to destroy the bridge. The recommendation sets off a decade-long controversy in which a citizens action committee loses the fight to keep the bridge open. The structure will be closed in 1983 and demolished in 1989.
1981: The Central Foundry building, the last remnant of the McShane foundry buildings, is torn down.
October 25, 1984: three firefighters, Walter Bawroski, Henry Rayner Jr. and James Kimbel, lose their lives in a fire at Shillerπs Furniture store.
1985: The Dundalk and Edgemere police stations combine into North Point Station and move to Merritt Boulevard.
Late 1980s: Strand Theater closes in Old Dundalk, reopens and closes again for good.
September 1986: The first Defenders Day is celebrated at Fort Howard, honoring the American victory over the British during the invasion of North Point in 1814.
1994-1995: Dundalk Celebrates its Centennial year.