U.S. Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay
Listen to the Band!
No history of the Brooklyn-Curtis Bay area could be written without a story on the Coast Guard Yard--one of our major institutions, and the major employer of our area.
As far back as the explorations of Captain John Smith in the 1600's, the fine channels and harborage of the Patapsco River were noted, and in this century the findings were again confirmed by reports of the Army Corps of Engineers that this was an ideal waterway, not requiring dredging, and useful for any operations. This report led to the establishment during World War II of the Army Ordnance Depot across the water from the Coast Guard Yard.
The beginnings of the Yard date back to the period immediately following the Spanish-American War, when there was a revived interest in military matters. What was then called the Revenue Cutter Service needed a central location for repair and construction of its craft, as well as a general headquarters area. A simple need, but not easily fulfilled. It was a Baltimore born officer, Lt. John C. Moore, who led a group of his fellow officers to petition Capt. Shoemaker, Chief of the Revenue Cutter Service,to ask Congress to purchase the Arundel Cove area to establish such a central facility. We might insert here a short history of the Arundel Cove area, as it has several distinguishing features besides its good channel and excellent harbor.
The land was originally a Royal Grant, in the late 17th Century, to one Paul Kinsey. After several changes of ownership we know that by 1746 the Stansbury family, prominent in Anne Arundel History, held the property. By 1899, the time of which we speak here, the land had been broken up into several farms owned by the Hall, Chairs, and Watson families. One of these holdings bears particular note, for it was owned by a black farmer, the only one in the area. This black man owned more land than any other of his race in Maryland, and possibly more than any other black farmer in the Eastern part of the country. Unfortunately, none of these farmers still owned the land in 1905 when the government purchased it for the Coast Guard. However, before the land was purchased, it was leased. Captain Shoemaker had felt that an initial application to Congress for funds would not be successful; therefore, he encouraged Lt. Moore to go ahead with his plans on an experimental basis. Lt. Moore may have lacked superior rank,but he had superior ability, and with funds already appropriated, he leased land in the Arundel Cove area, used available manpower and material, and got his project underway.
In 1899, Lt. Moore himself brought the first vessel to the new repair facility. This ship, the "Colfax", was an antique side- leftover from the Civil War, and given by the Navy to the Revenue Cutter Service. The crew of the "Colfax" herself, were the first actual workers at the Yard. Today, over 1,100 are employed to repair as well as build the vessels, markers, buoys, etc., which come under the 5th District Coast Guard jurisdiction--quite a leap in less than a century.
The barkentine "Chase"--one of the most classic and beautiful vessels of any service--was another early arrival at the Arundel Cove. The "Chase" was to be the real beginning of the Coast Guard Academy, which saw its birth and earliest development in our Curtis Bay facility. It was not until 1910, with the growth and complexity of the Yard's building and repair activities that the also fast growing Academy was moved to New London, Connecticut.
Lt. Moore's predictions of money saving, and efficiency of operations, were proven very early, so that by 1905 Congress was willing to appropriate funds to purchase the leased property and set up permanent facilities for the Revenue Cutter Service work yard and Academy, (later moved, as mentioned above). In 1915, the Revenue Cutter Service became the United States Coast Guard--whose missions include not only coastal protection, lighthouse and buoy tending duties, rescue operations, and ice breaking chores, but also scientific and geodetic projects. Among the 26 commanders of the Coast Guard (from Capt. Russell Glover to Capt. Benedict L. Stabile) and the men stationed at the Yard, are many who were friends of our people and neighbors in our community.
To us, the Coast Guard Yard has not only a glorious history of accomplishment, but a traditional record of community cooperation and responsibility. Beyond their pride, and ours, in the Coast Guard's outstanding record of service in times of emergency or in peace, we feel that the portion of it represented by the Curtis Bay Yard is ours--a part of our community and a part of our lives. In this Bicentennial year of 1976 we wish to publicly salute the United States Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay.
Glass - May 8, 1965
U.S.C.G.C. Confidence - Curtis Bay, MD
Glass - April 29, 1967
U.S.C.G.C. Durable - Curtis Bay, MD
following from the back cover of "V-DISC STOMP" — an LP
issued by IAJRC:
During the war almost every military post had its own service bands, the best known of which probably were Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Orchestra and Sam Donahue's Navy Band... But there were many other excellent, less-publicized bands, one of which is represented on this LP: the Curtis Bay Coast Guard Training Station Dance Band. This superb group, stationed at Curtis Bay near Baltimore, Maryland, was supervised by [Morty] Palitz. This swinging rendition of AVAILABLE JONES (V-Disc 263-B), composed and arranged by ex-Hal McIntyre pianist Danny Hurd, was played during...the 1986 IAJRC convention and was highly acclaimed. The introduction and coda both feature strong bass and bass breaks (to which Hurd was very partial); solos ar by alto sax (Jerry Sanfino), a brash trombone (Kai Winding), booting tenor sax (Leroy New), and 2 trumpet solos: (Tony Faso) and a strong open solo (Johnny Laone?).
Listen (3MB MP3)
Recorded at the RCA Victor Studios, New York City • March, 1944
V-Disc 186 CGT Band Curtis Bay MD My Heart Isn't In It-Annie Laurie-Mary Lou-Shine
This page last updated May 10, 2013.
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