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Early Crisfield

The Seafood Capital of the World by Harold W. Hurst

Located on the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland on a peninsula between Tangier Sound and the Pocomoke River, Crisfield was long known as the Seafood Capital of the World. While the town lacked the prestige and historical renown of the old Colonial places like Chestertown and Easton, it gained fame after the Civil War as a harvesting, processing, and export center for oysters, crabs, diamondback terrapin, and all sorts of fish. Originally designated as Somers Cove, in the 1870s the town was renamed Crisfield in honor of John Woodland Crisfield, a judge and congressman. His outstanding achievement was the construction of the Eastern Shore Railroad that linked the town with depots in other parts of Maryland and Delaware. (See articles on Delmarva Railroads in the December 2011 and April 2012 issues of Tidewater Times.) Railroad and steamboat connections opened up Crisfield to Wilmington, Philadelphia and other market centers. The discovery of oyster beds in the Tangier Sound led to a flourishing business that put Crisfield on the commercial map. By the early

1880s, the waters surrounding the town were crammed with bugeyes, pungys, skipjacks and other types of craft equipped with oyster dredging capabilities. These dredging boats often remained on the oyster sites for several weeks, during which they sold their cargoes to “buy boats� that, in turn, delivered the goods to shucking houses and packing firms in Crisfield and nearby towns. Photographs of Crisfield taken in the 1890s and early 1900s reveal the presence of numerous

John Woodland Crisfield. 59

November 2012 Tidewater Times  

November 2012 Tidewater Times

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