The Times and Tides of Ocean City, Maryland
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Christopher Ludlam
Ocean City Mayor A National Hero
Christopher Ludlam, Ocean City Mayor & National Hero
The man responsible for introducing Pound fishing to Ocean City, Maryland was Christopher Sleeper Ludlam. Before moving to Ocean City, Ludlam had lived on the beaches of southern New Jersey. He had been the Keeper of the Hereford Inlet Life Saving Station. It was in this position as keeper that he received our country's prestigious medal for heroism, the Gold Life-Saving Medal, which was awarded only for "extreme and heroic daring in the saving of life from the perils of the sea".

On July 7, 1888, Ludlam was in fact awarded the medal for "rescuing, on the night of December 4, 1886, during a heavy northeast gale and snowstorm, the entire crew of five men of the schooner D. H. Ingraham, afire and stranded amongst the breakers on the bar at Hereford Inlet, New Jersey." The annals of the Life-Saving Service are filled with the heroic daring of Christopher Ludlam.

In June of 1883, during a southerly gale, he personally boarded a sinking schooner, the Fannie A. Bailey, carrying a crew of seven, and the captain's wife and three year old son. Panic and fright crazed five of the crew members, and they abandoned the sinking and storm torn vessel in the ships' only yawl, leaving on the sinking vessel, two men, the woman and child with no means of escape. The situation became so dangerous that the captain called the yawl back to the ship and lowered his wife and child into the small survival craft. Suddenly the yawl rolled over in the swash astern and all were tumbled into the water. The captain of the Fannie Bailey dove into the seething water reaching his wife and bringing her half dead back to the side of the schooner. Three of the crewmen were swept to sea and they and the small child were never seen again.

Ludlam, though off duty during the summer season, each day went to the station house on the beach and there surveyed the horizon. On this day, as the fog lifted he saw a vessel and knew from the way she was canted over that she was aground on the bar. After several hours of rounding up a makeshift crew to help him launch the surf-boat he and his rag-tag crew, rowed the two miles to the wreck. The Fannie Bailey had broken in two and the sea was sweeping over her from bow to stern. The crew was clinging to the rigging. The captain's wife was below, unconscious, lying on an upper berth. Ludlam tumbled below and waded waist deep in water to reach the suffering woman. He carried her, in his arms, back through the mill-race of water swirling over the deck. The rest of the crew were in a deplorable condition, so no time was lost putting them in the surf-boat and returning to the beach.

Ludlam moved to Ocean City in 1896, after retiring from the Life-Saving Service. Once here, he introduced the method of pound fishing to the men of the village. This type of fishing soon became the economic back bone of the community. He also participated in several other rescues and the saving of additional lives here at Ocean City. He became a highly respected citizen evidenced by his election to the seat of Mayor in 1903.


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