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St. Michaels in Talbot County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Tools of the Oystermen

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

 
 
Tools of the Oystermen Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, August 24, 2019
1. Tools of the Oystermen Marker
Inscription.  Chesapeake watermen used these tools to harvest oysters. Over time, oystering tools ranged from simple to complex, reflecting changes in technology, regulation, and oyster populations. A hundred years later, dredges—much more efficient, but requiring a larger boat to pull—arrived on the Bay from New England. But some oysters remained too deep for tonging and legally off-limits to dredges. With the invention of mechanical patent tongs in 1887, oystermen were able to harvest these deep-water oysters.

To learn more about Chesapeake Bay oysters and the men who used these tools, visit the exhibition Oystering on the Chesapeake.

[Captions:]
Hand tongs
A waterman stands on the narrow side deck of his boat, lifting tongs heavy with oysters. Tonging is cold, back-breaking work, but it requires the simplest, least expensive equipment—a boat, a strong fisherman, and a sturdy set of tongs. Robert de Gast, 1969, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

Oyster dredge
A dredge is towed along the Bay's bottom of from a boat. At drags across an oyster bar, it scrapes
Tools of the Oystermen Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, August 24, 2019
2. Tools of the Oystermen Marker
up oysters and anything else in its way. The contents are then brought up on deck and sorted. Dredges are one of the most efficient tools to harvest oysters, but regulations restrict their use to certain open waters of the Bay. Robert de Gast, 1970, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

Patent tongs
Patent tonging is cold and dangerous, but can reach oysters in very deep waters. Powerful winches lowered and lifted these massive tongs and their catch. Robert de Gast, 1970, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

 
Erected by Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
 
Location. 38° 47.315′ N, 76° 13.253′ W. Marker is in St. Michaels, Maryland, in Talbot County. Marker can be reached from Mill Street just east of Burns Street, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 213 North Talbot Street, Saint Michaels MD 21663, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Katie G., Deadrise Workboat (a few steps from this marker); What is a waterman? (a few steps from this marker); Pot Pie Skiff (within shouting distance of this marker); Martha (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Point (within shouting distance of this marker); Winnie Estelle
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(about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fishing Shanty/Ark (about 300 feet away); Kennedy M. Fitzgerald (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Michaels.
 
Categories. AnimalsIndustry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
 

More. Search the internet for Tools of the Oystermen.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 26, 2019. This page originally submitted on August 26, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 26 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 26, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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