March 16th, 2011
Why do some towns have a strong sense of place? Chesapeake City is just such a town – a quaint, beautiful water community with so much personality that it beckons locals and tourists alike. Much of Chesapeake City’s charm comes from its intriguing history, with origins dating back to the late 1600s when it was a trading place on Back Creek and known as Bohemia Village. Then a major development came: the canal opened in 1829 to connect the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Bay with Chesapeake City as the ‘lock’ entry on the western end.
Not surprisingly, the canal brought significant growth and the town thrived. Chesapeake City was a service center for the surrounding area and the canal enabled distant connections for outgoing products and incoming goods. Yet the years brought even more changes, and some of them negative: the locks were taken out in the early 1900s. A tragic bridge accident in 1942 drastically altered the town. Then the overhead bridge opened in 1949, diverting automobile traffic away from the commerce. The town suffered and by the 1970s fell into despair – economically and physically. The town was losing its sense of place. It was becoming a place that people wanted to be away from.
Yet thanks to the bold vision of a few friends and town residents, Chesapeake City’s sense of place was rediscovered through a major restoration campaign. One of the early, and most significant, steps was an inventory completed by the National Register of Historic Places. Today there are over forty houses, buildings and churches that are included in the historic district of South Chesapeake City, preserving the town’s historic charm.
Learn more about Chesapeake City’s wonderful history on March 28th at 6:30pm at the Bohemia Manor Middle School Auditorium. Local scholar Robert Hazel will speak and present photos. This presentation is open to the public and you can register by calling 410-996-1134.
Additionally, many local residents have lovingly documented Chesapeake City’s history and Cecil County Public Library has copies of the following resources:
Books about Chesapeake City and Vicinity
– At the Head of the Bay: A Cultural and Architectural History of Cecil County, Maryland by Pamela James Blumgart
– Cecil County – A Personal Portrait by Steve Gottlieb
– Cecil County, Maryland: A Study in Local History by Alice Miller
– Cecil County by Milt Diggins – “Photographic images that have survived over the years provide anchors to the county’s past.”
– Chesapeake City: The Canal Town through the Years by Karen T. Morgan and J. Kevin Titter
– The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal: Chronicles of Early Life in Towns along the Historic Waterway by Robert Hazel
– The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal: Gateway to Paradise by Edward J. Ludwig
– The National Waterway: A History of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, 1769-1985 by Ralph D. Gray
– Riding the Ferry and Other Adventures: Chesapeake City, Maryland, 1942-1949, A Collection of Memories by Robert Hazel
– You can also visit Lee Collins’ website for more info about the history of Chesapeake City.
We hope to see you at this wonderful program. What are your favorite memories of Chesapeake City?