Leonardtown in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Steamboats at the Waterfront
A Way of life...never to be seen again.
David C. Holly, Tidewater by Steamboat
In the midst of the War of 1812, The Chesapeake, first steamboat built to ply the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, safely made its maiden voyage from Baltimore to Annapolis despite threats from the British fleet spoiling for battle in the open waters. A unique era had begun, one in which fortunes were made and lost, and huge catastrophes -- explosions, collisions and sinkings -- ensued, as the economy of the region came to depend upon steamboats for trade and travel. At their peak, steamers served more than 300 landings along the1,000 miles of rivers and creeks of the tidewater region.
Then, from about 1905 to the end of the 1920s, only briefly interrupted during World War I, an even grander Golden Age of steamboating blossomed, featuring floating palaces of breath-taking beauty and grandeur. Three-decker ships like the Old Bay Line's State of Maryland (1922), State of Virginia (1923) and President Warfield, (1928) flaunted ivory paneled saloons, mahogany pilastered smoking rooms, glass-enclosed palm rooms on the galley deck, and grand stairways overlooking chandeliers,gold trimmings and oil paintings. Costing from $716,000 to $960,000 (in those days!), each had 170 first class staterooms,
At the peak of this glory, the Great Depression arrived, propelling the industry toward a sad decline, and hastened by the devastating hurricane of 1933, that destroyed much of the shipping infrastructure on the Bay and its rivers. One by one, the lines and their steamships slipped away to other ports and destinies, such as that of the President Warfield,....
After a stint as a troop carrier before the United States entered World War II, the President Warfield returned briefly to service with The Old Bay Line of the Baltimore Steam Packet Company. Then in 1947, the ship turned up at Marseilles under the name Exodus 1947, being readied to carry 4,500 Jewish refugees bound for Palestine. When British Sailors rammed and boarded her at Haifa, to force the return of refugees to camps in Europe, the incident sparked an outcry that led to the emergence of the state of Israel.
Holly, David C.; Tidewater by Steamboat, A Saga of the Chesapeake; Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London in association with the Calvert Marine Museum, 1991.
Loker, Aleck; A Most Convenient Place, Leonardtown Maryland, 1650-1950; Commissioners of Leonardtown and Solitude Press, 2001.
Location. 38° 17.165′ N, 76° Touch for map. Marker is in Leonardtown Wharf Park at the south end to Washington Street (MD 326) at the east end of the waterfront walkway. Marker is in this post office area: Leonardtown MD 20650, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fun on the Waterfront (within shouting distance of this marker); Trade on the Waterfront (within shouting distance of this marker); Invasion! (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); War Comes to Breton Bay (approx. 0.2 miles away); Tudor Hall (approx. ¼ mile away); This Cannon (approx. ¼ mile away); A Town Spared (approx. ¼ mile away); Leonardtown (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Leonardtown.
Also see . . . SS Exodus - Wikipedia. (Submitted on January 23, 2013, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.)
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • War of 1812 • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 20, 2013, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 384 times since then and 38 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on January 20, 2013, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.