Living off the Land
The Canning Craze
—Before refrigeration, truck, and trains, Dorchester County was a leader in the food processing industry. With rich soils for growing crops and many waterways for transporting goods, Dorchester saw 187 canneries built between 1870 and 1960. That’s when the area near the Choptank River Lighthouse a bustling wharf, home to canneries, packing plants, and plenty of hubbub. Boats large and small were loaded with everything from melons to oysters destined for faraway cities. By the early 1900s, Cambridge was the second largest canning center in the nation.
The Rise and Fall of Phillips Packing Company
In 1902, three local men formed a canning company in Cambridge that grew into the world’s largest packer of tomato products. By 1939, their Phillips Packing Company was the area’s main employer. The company bought more than $1 million in produce
Farming with a Twist
Many Dorchester County farmers still grow corn, wheat, and soybeans or raise poultry. Others have taken farming in new directions. One family expanded their crops to include grapes and opened a winery and tasting room. Another rolled generations of farming know-how into a destination farm stand. One farm was transformed into a bison ranch, while another host a corn maze and paintball adventure park.
(Inscription beside the photos in the center)
Tomatoes, watermelons, and other produce were the foundation of the local economy for generations.
(Inscription under the photo in the right center)
One local farming family turned some of their fields into a vineyard.
Erected by Maryland Heritage Area.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Industry & Commerce.
Location. 38° 34.302′ N, 76° 3.816′ W. Marker is in Cambridge, Maryland, in
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Choptank River Bridge (a few steps from this marker); Choptank River's Natural History (a few steps from this marker); Exploring Dorchester's Fragile Beauty (within shouting distance of this marker); A Landscape and Lifestyle Defined by Water (within shouting distance of this marker); Maryland's Eastern Shore (within shouting distance of this marker); Cambridge (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Discover: Dorchester (about 300 feet away); Enjoy Our Park (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cambridge.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on November 8, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 237 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 8, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.