Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum - 2009

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is located in St. Michaels, Maryland. It has very large collection of Chesapeake Bay artifacts, exhibits, and vessels. The museum covers 18 acres and is the most interactive museum that I have experienced.  Instead of the "Do Not Touch" signs and the roped off areas usually found in museums, visitors are invited to touch, to get close to, get onto, etc.

The museum was founded in 1965 on Navy Point, the site of seafood packing houses, docks, and work boats "back in the day".  It houses the world's largest collection of Bay boats and provides interactive exhibits in and around the 35 buildings scattered about on the campus. The museum has a working boat yard for restoration projects and education. "Apprentices" can volunteer to assist with restoration or can take a class and actually build a skiff.  One of the interactive exhibits the Museum offers is Waterman's Wharf, where one can practice seafood harvesting by hauling an eel or crab pot out of the waters of Fog Cove. Another exhibit, Oystering on the Chesapeake, transports visitors to the deck of a working waterman, and explains how the oyster industry has shaped the region's landscape, culture, and history.

There are over 100 boats and boat models (some of the boats are in the water), various artworks including a vast collection of watercolors, decoys, guns, ship's signboards, and other historical Bay artifacts.

The centerpiece of the museum is the 1879 Hooper Strait Chesapeake screw-pile lighthouse. The lighthouse was moved to the museum several years ago from Hooper Strait more than 40 miles away.


Hooper Strait screwpile lighthouse.

The following are a few pics from inside the lighthouse.  It is maintained as it was when it was in use.  It includes original furniture, clothes in closets and drawers, tools, containers of old time medicines in the medicine chest, coal stoves, kerosene containers, etc.  The actual light was a fresnel (pronounced "fray nel") lens lit by a kerosene lamp.  It was the job of the lighthouse keeper to maintain and keep the light lit.  I was born too late - I would have loved that job.

Fresnel lens. Pronounced FRAY nell. Compared to a normal lens, a Fresnel lens is much thinner, thus passing more light and allowing lighthouses to be visible over much longer distances. This light was lit with a kerosene lamp.

Believe it or not this boat will be restored.  There are many such boats in various stages of decay that are awaiting restoration.

The last remaining bugeye afloat.


Part of the 18 acre museum from the lighthouse.

Inside one of the active workshops.


A skipjack in the process of restoration. The long pole in the foreground will be the boat's mast.
If I had had time (and if it wasn't so hot) I could have volunteered to assist in planking.

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