How well do you know your Harford County History?

Picture note: The Avalon was a Sister-Ship of the Joppa and is presented to provide a view of the Starboard-Aft Sidewheel
Picture note: The Avalon was a Sister-Ship of the Joppa and is presented to provide a view of the Starboard-Aft Sidewheel


Did You Know….


Joppa was not only once a prominent port in early Maryland, but also had a long and eventful history of transporting people back and forth from Baltimore to the Eastern Shore at Denton. In 1885, the Maryland Steamboat Company built a Side-Wheel Steamship to join its line of existing Steamers on the Bay. Though the intent initially was to name the ship after its President, Gen. Howard B. Ensign, he flatly refused the honor, as he had done so previously. The ‘Joppa’ served for over 50 years before being retired along with its sister ships as faster and more convenient modes of 20th Century transportation grew ever more efficient and popular. Along with her Sister-Ships, she was sold at auction in 1939 and sailed off into the history books.

In 2002/03 reconstruction of the Maryland Steamboat Company’s original 1883 Denton Wharf was completed and renamed the ‘Joppa Wharf’.

If you are a fan of the Chesapeake Maritime history and are in the area, plan a visit:


I found a little more concerning the subsequent history of the ‘Joppa’ once it was sold in 1941 (not 1939 as stated in the newspaper source)-


The ‘Joppa’ was initially purchased by Alfonso Wootten, owner of the Victor Lynn Lines in 1930 for $1,500. In 1934 The ‘Joppa’ was rebuilt as a diesel by the Salisbury Yacht Building Corporation and in 1935 was rechristened the `City of Salisbury’


Though the Victor Lynn was the mainstay of the Victor Lynn fleet, Mr. Wootten’s new pride was the `City of Salisbury’. She had been built The ‘Joppa’ in 1885 by Harlan and Hollingsworth for the Maryland Steamboat Company. She was 198 feet six inches overall, with a beam of 54 feet 6 inches outside her wheelboxes. The feathering paddlewheels were 22 feet in diameter.


On December 26, 1941, Alfonso’s wife, Gertrude M. Wootten, gave to her four children a two-thirds interest in the `City of Salisbury’, the interest she had obtained in 1938 at the close of Al Wootten’s estate. The vessel was appraised at $120,000 and Mrs. Wootten paid a gift tax on the transaction. On December 31, 1941, the five owners sold the vessel to the U. S. Navigation Company, a New York Corporation, for $120,000. In 1945 she was sold to the United States government, who renamed her the U. S. S. Colonel Henry R. Casey in 1947. She was employed in mine planting. In 1950 or 1955 (sources vary), she was sold to Mexican interests. (Edited source: ‘A Chesapeake Bay Steamship Saga’, Alwyn Wootten)


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