HISTORICAL SOCIETY & MUSEUM, Inc.
4 Center Place, Dundalk, MD 21222 410.284.2331
There are two histories of Sparrows Point, one as important as the other.
Sparrows Point as a manufacturer tells the story of a large industrial complex for steelmaking and ship building, while Sparrows Point as a town speaks of individuals and their beloved, tight-knit community. The area continues to provide a legacy that has shaped generations, and an identity for those who still call it home.
Geographically, the ‘Point extends off North Point Peninsula into the Chesapeake and lower Patapsco River, but also includes the land, marshes and waterways around Jones Creek, Lodge Forest, etc.
Originally home to Native American tribes until being granted to Thomas Sparrow by Lord Calvert around 1652, the homestead was called "Sparrow's Nest" and over the next century became home to other families, who raised crops, built homes and hunting lodges.
It wasn’t until 1887, when engineers realized that the marshy inlet would make an excellent deep-water port, that the Pennsylvania Steel Co. and the Bethlehem Iron Co. built the enormous works that would become Maryland biggest employer.
The plant took the raw materials of iron ore, coal and limestone and smelted them through a series of complex processes into standard-grade sheets, pipe, wire, nails and other finished steel products.
By the early 20th century, Sparrow's Point was a large steel mill, stretching four miles from end to end. The increase of work at the Point reflected the migration of black workers from the south and of white workers from rural areas or mining camps in West Virginia and central
With those new arrivals came the need for immediate housing, and Sparrows Point – the company town – was born. In the earliest days, single men lived in barrack-like conditions,
but families soon followed, living in small 1920s-era bungalows surrounded with the continual sound of trains, pile drivers and blast furnaces. There was a grid of streets named with letters
and numbers, the streetcar line that ran all the way to downtown Baltimore, and red dust from steelmaking that settled everywhere when the wind blew.
You didn't get to vote for the people calling the shots, and if you lost your job, you had to move out, but rent was cheap and the crabbing, fishing and swimming were good.
Copyright 2017. Dundalk Patapsco Neck Historical Society & Museum, Inc. All Rights Reserved.