“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Annapolis in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Watermen and Working Harbor

Watermen and Working Harbor Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By F. Robby, July 18, 2008
1. Watermen and Working Harbor Marker
Inscription.  More than a dozen oyster houses ringed the waterfront by the 1870s, some built out into the harbor on pilings. Throughout the winter, local watermen harvested shellfish from the Bay and sold their catch to the packing houses. Shuckers, many of whom lived nearby the dock, skillfully removed the oysters from their shells, filling thousands of buckets for the cannery. The Annapolis Canning Company, once located across the dock from where you are standing, shipped its processed oysters to markets througout the United States. When McNasby's Oyster Company, which started its business on Compromise Street moved to Eastport in 1918, it employed 32 workers whose pay averaged $28 a week.

"The watermen were early risers every day. Long hours of the day, until nightfall, they would be on the water, whether it was fishing or oystering. They went out there under any weather conditions...If the market was gutted, they would only get a few cents a pound for fish or, say, oysters. Practically you couldn't give them away at certain times of the year." - Lester R Trott, Then Again...Annapolis, 1900-1965

During the winter, from
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September to April, when oysters could legally be harvested, the oyster fleet made the dock and harbor its home port. At times there would be so many boats that it was possible for watermen to walk across their decks from one side of the dock to the other. Oyster dredging took place in deeper water on sailboats of several types including skipjacks, bugeyes, pungys, and schooners. Many watermen worked from the decks of powered workboats, using long shafted tongs to scoop up oyster from the the reefs in shallow waters.

Annapolis continued to be a working harbor in the nineteenth century but with a difference role. A century earlier, the city's merchants shipped tobacco, flour, beef, and corn to Europe and the West Indies. Now boats brought produce, fish, oysters, crabs, and lumber to Annapolis for sale to residents of the city and nearby rural areas. Food and livestock went to the market house; seafood was sold from fish market stalls built on pilings at the head of the dock and at local restaurants; and lumber went to Johnson's Lumber Company, located just north of here in the Hell Point neighborhood. Local families also supplied their own food by fishing, oystering, and crabbing.
Erected by Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce
Watermen and Working Harbor Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By F. Robby, July 18, 2008
2. Watermen and Working Harbor Marker
Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1918.
Location. 38° 58.596′ N, 76° 29.096′ W. Marker is in Annapolis, Maryland, in Anne Arundel County. Marker can be reached from Dock Street, 0.1 miles east of Market Space. Marker is on the plaza beyond the parking lot. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Annapolis MD 21401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Annapolis: Capital of Commerce (a few steps from this marker); Maritime Annapolis: An Enduring Legacy (a few steps from this marker); Gateway to Discovery (a few steps from this marker); Transportation on the Chesapeake Highway (a few steps from this marker); Steamboats Give Way to the New Bay Bridge (a few steps from this marker); Commodore John Barry (within shouting distance of this marker); Annapolis Depicted (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sy Mohr's City Dock Harbormaster Collage (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Annapolis.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on May 24, 2009, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 722 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 24, 2009, by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland.

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Dec. 3, 2023