“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Deltaville in Middlesex County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Oyster Tonging

Oyster Tonging Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, August 17, 2016
1. Oyster Tonging Marker
Inscription.  Oysters were originally harvested by the Powhatan or colonist by wading into the water and picking them up off the oyster bar, but as the number of people eating the oysters increased, boats were needed to collect them from bars farther out into the rivers and the Bay. Hand tongs were developed to pick up the oysters from a boat. Hand tongs are a long scissor-like tool with metal rakes on the ends. The waterman stands on the side of his boat, opens the tongs, and reaches to the bottom of the river. He closes the tongs, scooping oysters between the rakes. He then lifts the tongs into the boat and dumps the oysters onto the culling board. The river might be fifteen or more feet deep. The tongs are very long, heavy, and hard to manage.

The contents of the culling board are sorted. The oysters sometimes grow on each other, large and small. The waterman uses a culling hammer to separate the individual oysters. The hammer handle also has a measuring gauge. Any oyster smaller than three inches must be returned to the oyster bed. Empty shells are also returned, since the baby oysters attach to larger shell as they grow. Anything else brought
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up is thrown back into the water.

Hand tonging is hard, slow work. Sometimes each “lick” of the tongs brings up only a few oysters. Even so, most of the oyster harvest from the Chesapeake is taken with hand tongs.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels.
Location. 37° 33.109′ N, 76° 19.358′ W. Marker is in Deltaville, Virginia, in Middlesex County. Marker can be reached from Jackson Creek Road (Virginia Route 660) 0.1 miles south of Bucks View Lane (Virginia Route 683), on the left when traveling south. This marker is on the property of the Deltaville Maritime Museum down by the waters edge. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 287 Jackson Creek Road, Deltaville VA 23043, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The F.D. Crockett (within shouting distance of this marker); Fish Story (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Compass Rose (about 300 feet away); Ruark Sculpture Garden (about 400 feet away); Flagpole and Flag Etiquette (about 400 feet away); Confederate Boarding Cutter (about 600 feet away); Oyster Tongs (about 600 feet away); Pette Spansell Clark (1908-2000) (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Deltaville.
Also see . . .
Oyster Tonging Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, August 17, 2016
2. Oyster Tonging Marker
 Deltaville Maritime Museum. (Submitted on August 26, 2016.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 26, 2016. It was originally submitted on August 25, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 458 times since then and 46 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 25, 2016, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 2, 2023