Historic Elk Landing

Historic Elk Landing

Historic Elk Landing is an almost-forgotten port at the head of the Chesapeake Bay. During America’s late Colonial and early Federal periods, roughly 1770 to 1820, Elk Landing was the mid Atlantic’s northernmost navigable inland waterway and the preferred route of north and south travel for many well-known patriots.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette, as well as many other patriots, passed through en-route to the capitol in Philadelphia. In addition the site served as a shipping and supply port for America’s Continental Army. In the War of 1812, Fort Hollingsworth at Elk Landing, along with close-by Fort Defiance, defended Elkton from burning by the British.

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Image Credit: Historic Elk Landing


Self-guided grounds tours available 7 days a week during daylight hours (Dawn to Dusk) only.

Guided House & Grounds Tours available during scheduled Special Events and by Appointment Only.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)


There are no fees associated with Historic Elk Landing


Evening Walking Tours - Through the assistance of a grant provided by the Lower Susquehanna Greenway, augmented by Foundation funding, plans are underway to provide three different evening candle-lit walking tour programs. They will be offered as soon as resources allow for their development.

Annual events include: Defender's Day, Independence Day, British Invasion Day, Victory at Yorktown Day, Christmas at Hollingsworth


One of Maryland's and the Mid-Atlantic's most historic tracts of land, Elk Landing, is the location of Cecil County's most important heritage.
Situated at the confluence of the Little Elk and Big Elk Creeks, this site is on the area's earliest transportation corridor and played a role in many significant historical events:

-The Swedes and Finns established an early trading post at this location, which they called Sahakitko.
-Zebulon Hollingsworth, in the early part of the 18th Century, acquired two parcels of land creating the site known as Elk Landing.
-British troops numbering 15,000 to 18,000 passed through the area in August, 1777 on their way north to capture the American capitol in Philadelphia.

The British returned on April 29, 1813 but Elkton was saved from burning by defense from Forts Hollingsworth and Defiance in the War of 1812. In the early 19th Century it was a  port harboring boats loaded with Cecil flour, iron, nails, wood, pork and lumber departing for Baltimore and returning with coal, molasses, coffee and whiskey.

In 1887, Henry Deibert started constructing canal boats at Elk Landing which were launched sideways into the Little Elk Creek. This stone building at Elk Landing was originally constructed as a dwelling, and later became a tavern. Photo circa 1930.

See our timeline for additional detail about Elk Landing between 1600 and the present time


Last updated: June 27, 2022
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