Cecil County has eight incorporated towns, each with its own personality and unique features. Below is a brief description of each. Visit their town web sites for more information.
In the early 1700s when a road system was beginning to develop in this part of the country, towns grew at crossroads. Such is the case with Cecilton (first called Cecil Town), the county's southernmost incorporated town. Located between the Bohemia and Sassafras Rivers, the Cecilton area is a beautiful area of rural farmland, several historic manor homes and colonial estates, newer residential housing and a small downtown district contains businesses.
In 1742 this colonial village became the first incorporated town in Cecil County, and briefly served as the County Seat. It is located where the North East River meets the Chesapeake Bay, and in its early days was an active shipping center. The old Post Road came through Charlestown, and brought many colonial travelers to its shores. However, when the road was improved and straightened, it bypassed the town reducing the traffic to Charlestown. Shortly thereafter, the county seat was moved to Elkton. Today Charlestown is a quaint riverside residential town, with four marinas, a general store, two restaurants, an elementary school, post office, several restored colonial structures, and a public fishing wharf.
Once known as "The Village of Bohemia," the town was created as a result of the building of the
C & D Canal. The C & D canal, 450 feet wide connects the Chesapeake Bay with the Delaware River and is the busiest shipping canal in the nation. Huge commercial vessels as well as pleasure craft from around the world pass through the canal and Chesapeake City.
When the canal opened in 1829 and ship traffic increased, the town sprung up along its banks, incorporating in 1849. Today, an arched bridge 135 feet above the water spans the canal, connecting its northern and southern halves.
Historic South Chesapeake City is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the county's scenic tourist destinations, with picturesque 19 th century homes, shops, waterfront restaurants, B&Bs, a museum, and art galleries.
Once known as Head of Elk, named by Captain John Smith, Elkton sits at the northern headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay. Because of its strategic location, it was once an important shipping and passenger port. Our forefathers navigated its waterways and traveled its roads when heading north to Philadelphia, or south to Virginia. Elkton played a significant role in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. It became the county seat in 1787.
By the 20 th century, Elkton was established as a popular marriage destination. No waiting period was necessary to obtain a marriage license, so love struck couples flocked to the town to "tie the knot." Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, actors Burt Lahr and Joan Fontaine, basketball star Charles Barkley, and former US Attorney General John Mitchell and wife Martha are a few who have traveled to Elkton to say "I do."
Today, Elkton is the county's largest and most populated town and combines both past and present. Historic structures, office buildings, courthouses and a hospital, stores, parks, and industry dwell together in the town's eight square miles. Because of its strategic location between the transportation corridors of Route 40 and Interstate 95, it continues to be an attractive location for industrial growth.
North East is a small historic town located on the western shore of the upper reaches of the North East River. The river played a significant role in the early years of this town. Mills were built along its shores, fish and waterfowl were abundant, and farms were carved from upland forests. Though settled prior to 1700, North East did not become incorporated until 1850. One of its churches, St. Mary Anne's Episcopal church dating back to the early 1700's, has one of the oldest graveyards in the state. Graves of Susquehannock Indians date back to the 1600s.
Today North East offers neighborly charm and a glimpse of days gone by. It is a tourist destination for visitors who enjoy regional foods, antique and collectible shopping, fishing and outdoor activities, and history. A few miles south of town is Elk Neck State Park, surrounded on three sides by water.
This town was built on the shores of the Susquehanna River and played a role in two of our country's early wars. A local ferry and Rodger's Tavern were frequented by troops and travelers heading north and south during the Revolutionary War. During the Civil War, the area became an important staging area and camp for Union soldiers. George Washington was only one of the famous people who visited the town, which after two name changes became incorporated as Perryville in 1882. Highlights of the area today include Principio Furnace, Perry Point Veteran's Hospital, Rodger's Tavern, the Perryville Train Station, and the Prime Outlets--Perryville.
Historic Port Deposit is nestled along the cliffs and banks of the Susquehanna River. The small village was once a place where men made fortunes in shipping and granite quarrying. Fishing was also a big industry with a plentiful supply of shad and rockfish. The entire town is now on the National Historic Register, and its architecture is reminiscent of its glory days in the 1800s. The waterfront which was once a port for the arrival of arks and rafts loaded with sellable goods, now houses boat slips and an attractive condominium community. While revitalization efforts proceed, travelers come to town for river fishing, eateries, and a stroll down a unique and historic Main Street.
In the 1700's at a location where five wagon trails and many frontier travelers met, a tavern was named The Rising Sun. Travelers often spoke of meeting there. At that time, the town was mostly a cluster of log houses. In 1802, with the arrival of a post office, the town adopted the name of Rising Sun. This area was originally part of the Nottingham Lots of Pennsylvania, land given by William Penn to the colonists. But when the Mason Dixon Line was established along the Pennsylvania and Maryland state border, Rising Sun became part of Cecil County. One of the town's most famous visitors was the Marquis de Lafayette. He and his army camped nearby on April 12, 1781.