Tidbits of Chesapeake Bay Lore

You think the lines across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge are long and slow now? Before the bridge opened in 1952, cars were taken across from Annapolis to Matapeake on the Eastern Shore by ferry.

Historic photo of Chesapeake Bay Bridge
The eastbound span of the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge opened to traffic on July 30, 1952. (Courtesy Maryland Transportation Authority)

As Washingtonian magazine reports, it took 40 minutes and the line of cars waiting for the ferry stretched three miles. Actually, the Bay Bridge backup on the eastbound side now stretches to ten miles, but it take five minutes to cross the bridge by car.

Chesapeake Bay ferry
Chesapeake Bay ferry (Photo courtesy Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum)

But if you still want to experience a car ferry, there’s one that goes across the Tred Avon river at Oxford.

Oxford-Bellevue Ferry in Maryland
Oxford-Bellevue Ferry is America’s oldest privately owned ferry, established 1683. It crosses the scenic Tred Avon River between Oxford and St. Michaels area.

Actress Tallulah Bankhead, who’s career spanned 1930s-1950s, is buried near Chestertown.

Her sister lived near Rock Hall and wanted Tallulah nearby after she died at age 66 in 1968.

Tallulah Bankhead
Tallulah Bankhead (photo courtesy Alchetron.com)

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, beaches around the Chesapeake Bay were still segregated and one of the hottest beaches for African Americans was Carr’s Beach in Annapolis.

Carr's Beach Carr's Beach Carr's Beach
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Bengazi Room at Carr's Beach in 1958 with Wild Bill performing (Photo courtesy Maryland state archives)

Saturday nights grown-ups would go to the  beach and see stars such as Ray Charles, Bill Doggett, Dinah Washington, Author Prysock, etc.  Sunday afternoons was family fun. Thousands of people from as far away as Philly  would come to the beach to swim and picnic. But at three o’clock  it was show time and people would pack into the pavilion to see and dance to the Major R&B stars of the day. Stars such as Little Richard, James Brown, Lloyd Price, Etta James, The Shirelles, The Coasters, The Drifters. You name ’em, they played Carr’s Beach. – Carr’s Beach.com

Nearby Highland Beach was founded by Frederick Douglass’s son Charles and daughter-in law Laura in 1893 after they were refused service at a restaurant in another beach community in Annapolis. Both beaches are long gone. Carr Beach is now a waterfront condo community. Highland Beach is a community of about 60 homes.

 

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