CRISFIELD, MD — Crisfield was founded as a fishing village in the mid-1660’s on a finger of land that juts out onto the Chesapeake Bay. It’s the southernmost city in Maryland, just a few miles from the Virginia border.
In the 1800s, large beds of oysters were discovered in surrounding waters. Oysters were so plentiful that much of downtown near the shoreline was built on a foundation of oyster shells.
Residents would dredge for oysters in the winter and fish for crabs in the summer.
Recognizing a business opportunity, the town’s namesake and a former congressman, John W. Crisfield, brought the railroad into town. By the beginning of the 20th century, Crisfield was shipping so many oysters and crabs that the city attracted workers from as far away as New England and the Midwest, briefly becoming Maryland’s second-largest city, behind Baltimore.