HISTORICAL SOCIETY & MUSEUM, Inc.
4 Center Place, Dundalk, MD 21222 410.284.2331
Carnegie Plat retains much of the historical footprint of Dundalk. Colgate Creek, just on the other side of the adjacent Dundalk Marine Terminal, was the site of one of the first homes in Dundalk.
Henry McShane’s bell foundry in Baltimore, built in 1856, had become world famous. The foundry’s church bells rang out across nearly every state and across the world. 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 Carnegie Plat, on 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, Henry’s son and the vice-president of the foundry, wrote Dundalk, the name of his father’s 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.
What is now the Dundalk Marine Terminal has been known by numerous names. In 1929 Baltimore Municipal Airport was built on the manmade peninsula next to Carnegie Plat, and Pan American Airlines made the location a seaplane facility, used until 1941, when the U.S. Army took over operations and re-named it Baltimore Army Airfield for the duration of WWII. Winston Churchill flew out of the field following secret meetings with Franklin Roosevelt, while other famous aviators used the site regularly.
Following the war, the airfield was named Baltimore Municipal Airport, followed by a re-naming as Harbor Field from 1950-60, when air traffic slowed drastically because the site could not accommodate larger planes.
In 1960 the field closed for good and was re-tooled into a marine terminal, establishing not just Dundalk, but the entire region, as a deep-water port to be contended with on a national scale.
While the area lost its significance for air travel, it has greatly exceeded that value with port operations that will provide for the region long into the future.
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