Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum
Ocean City Beyond Memory
by Joan Charles
Hampton, Virginia
2006



Oh, my, how newspapers can confuse things. The Wheeling Register, in August of 1880 places Ocean City "in Maryland, cooled by the waters of the Chesapeake Bay."

When stars fell on Ocean City.

"A wonderfully brilliant meteor was observed by the people of Ocean City, Md., a few nights ago. It was as bright as the sun and seemed to have shot up from the sea. It passed straight from northeast and burst in the mid-heaven in a thousand fragments more luminous than the brightest stars. The line occupied by the meteor in its flight was more than half a minute, and its course could be followed for several minutes afterward by the streak of fire left in the sky." (Dubuque Herald, August 29, 1880).


A trip to Ocean City would be a news item in Wheeling, West Va. 1882.

Mrs. L. S. Delaplain, Mrs. J. W. Grubb, Mrs. S. P. Hildbreth, Mrs. B. M. Hildbreth, and Mrs. C. W. Brockunier left the city on Wednesday for Ocean City, Md. They were escorted by Mr. J. S. Gibbs, who is enroute for the East and on a visit to his home in Delaware.


School teachers discovered Ocean City early on. Frederick Weekly News on June 19, 1884 announced the school teachers in Frederick County would be attending the teachers' meeting at Ocean City. "The trip can be made with every comfort for $15." The Galveston Daily News on September 12, 1889 reports of the devastating storm that swept Ocean City.

"Reports of a startling nature are coming in of the storm at Ocean City, Md., though the telegraph office there is unoccupied. Large columns supporting the porches of hotels and cottages are washed away, doors and windows are broken down, and furniture is floating about the beach. The seas last night were breaking to the second story of the Atlantic Hotel and Congress Hall, and huge waves were running through the hotel six feet deep. The furniture is floating in the rooms. The dancing pavilion at the Atlantic Hotel is demolished, and the roofs of several cottages and porches are blown away. There is not a vestige of a bathhouse on the beach. The life saving station was damaged, and the crew were preparing to desert it last night.

A special train was sent over last night to rescue the dwellers on the beach. The work was accomplished by a large number of stout men joining hands and wading through the water waist deep. They brought the ladies to the cars one by one, seated on their joined hands. Mr. Stockers, one of the rescuing party, was washed out to sea, but an incoming wave threw him back toward the beach and he was saved."


An advertisement for resort excursions on the B&O Railroad in the July 30, 1897 issue of the Newark Daily Advocate  describes Ocean City, Md. as "one of the most attractive places on the Atlantic seaboard. The bathing is fine and exceptionally safe, the coast being entirely free from currents and dangerous undertow. The boating, fishing and crabbing afforded by the waters of the Sinepuxent Bay are additional attractions."

Once again a storm hits Ocean City. The Charlotte Daily Observer of October 26, 1897 reports:

"The storm of the last two days was the worst in the memory of the oldest inhabitants. The wind attained the proportions of a hurricane and the surf ran four feet deep across the beach into Sinepuxent Bay. The boardwalk south of the hotel is entirely washed away from some distance, and north from the same point, it is wrecked in places. The large porches of Congress Hall, Eastern Shore Hotel, Croppers Pavilion, Atlantic Hotel and the Meyer cottage are completely wrecked. The immense fish pond of the Ocean City Fishing Company was carried out to sea. The Cambridge Hotel was nearly wrecked. A large two-masted schooner was sunk in the bay, after being driven against the draw bridge. The damage will reach thousands of dollars."


Personal and sad stories appear in the newspapers of the 1890's.
The Wheeling Register, November 17, 1897, reports the suicide of Sidney Wilson of Snow Hill. "He was prominent in the development of Ocean City, served as its mayor for some years, and owned much property there..."

Residents of Fort Wayne, Indiana, could have a round trip excursion via the Pennsylvania Lines for a mere $14.50 in 1899 according to an advertisement in the Fort Wayne Sentinel, July 13, 1899. Tickets were good for returning within fifteen days.

The century ends with a knockout in this account of Ocean City moments with the great Joe Gans of boxing fame defeating Jack Dobbs in four rounds at the beach. (Morning Herald, Ohio, July 25, 1899).

OCEAN CITY - TWENTIETH CENTURY


Let's go to Ocean City.
It's only $15. from Louisville or $14. from Cincinnati (Morning Herald, May 21, 1900).

Ocean City gets connected.
"A new telephone company has been organized in Worcester County. The company will build a line from Snow Hill to Berlin and from there to Ocean City." (Philadelphia Inquirer, June 5, 1900).

A rock of faith.
The thirty-second annual session of the Protestant Episcopal Conference of the Diocese of Easton convened in Berlin on June 6, 1900... The convention went in a body to Ocean City, where the corner-stone was laid by Bishop Adams for the new St. Paul's-by-the-Sea Church. (Philadelphia Inquirer, June 7, 1900).

Ocean City becomes infested with crocodiles.
"Ocean City, Md., July 3 - the thirteenth annual meeting and trip of the Crocodile Club of Easton, is being here, the members arriving on the club's private car over the Baltimore, Chesapeake, and Atlantic Railway on Saturday. Colonel Richard T. Starr, of Salem, N. J., is the chief alligator this year." (Philadelphia Inquirer, July 4, 1900).

Excursion rates get even better, $12.50 will get you to Ocean City, Md. from Coshocton, Ohio leaving August 9, good for twelve days. (Coshocton Daily Times, August 3, 1900).

Spending some big bucks at OC.
Here comes the Camphene Club of Philadelphia dumping $5,000 in ten days during their annual outing. The members are leading officials and business men of Philadelphia and they will have exclusive use of the Congress Hall. "The Camphene Band of twenty-five pieces ? and an orchestra will furnish music day and night." (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 12, 1900).

Oh, my goodness, things are getting out of hand.
"A shirt waist dance was given last evening at a prominent hotel at Ocean City, Md., which was participated in by many whose ways are pronounced correct. No gentleman was allowed on the floor unless he was coatless. Several who were in attendance atsiteted to participate in the dances with their coats on, but were promptly ejected. (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 19, 1990).

Tragedy strikes.
Severe electrical storm kills two of Joseph Henry's children near Ocean City. The storm was most severe on the eastern shore of the peninsula. A number of vessels, including the policy boat, Nellie Jackson, were sunk and several fishermen lost their lives. (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 2, 1901).

A lucky message in a bottle.
John Douglas, a Philadelphia contractor, while cruising outside the new breakwater, tossed a bottle over with a message in it stating that whoever found it would get $25. Miss Mary Rodney of Berlin was the lucky finder. She picked the bottle up six miles below Ocean City. This experiment showed the existence of south-southwesterly currents where it has always been thought only south-southeasterly currents existed. (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 31, 1901).

ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO

Come to Ocean City, say siteting ads.
It's always cool. Stay at the Virginia Cottage, or The Mt. Pleasant that has a first-class table and home cooking. Or the Gables, they have improved sanitary plumbing.
(Washington Post, July 3, 1904).

Stay at the Virginia, near new ocean pier.
Short ride to Jamestown Exposition. (Note: Jamestown Exposition was in Norfolk, Va. and there was no Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel system) or stay at the Plimhimmon, modern, up-to-date. (Washington Post, June 9, 1907).

NINETY YEARS AGO

Two youths sentenced for holding up man.
Arrested while enjoying themselves on the Boardwalk at Ocean City, Md., accused of stealing $1,400, George Ellenger, 19 years old, and William Wimble, 21 years old, pleaded guilty. (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 12, 1915).

Teachers need a day off too.
The Maryland State Teacher's Association held their forty-ninth annual convention in Ocean City, June 17-30. (The News, Frederick, Md., May 11, 1916.

EIGHTY YEARS AGO


Here comes the competition.
Maridel Beach, one mile north of Ocean City, Md. A new City by the Sea. Daniel Richardson, Exclusive Sales Agent for Isle of Wight Land Company, Ocean City, Md. (Denton Journal, May 8, 1936).

SEVENTY YEARS AGO


Stamp of approval.
Mr. And Mrs. W. C. Stevens attended the rural Letter Carriers Convention in Ocean City. (Denton Journal, July 11, 1936).

SIXTY YEARS AGO


Del-Mar-Va Press Group meet at Ocean City at the Atlantic Hotel.
Speakers include Mayor Daniel Trimper... A dance at the Pier Club will follow the banquet. (Denton Journal, August 16, 1946).

FIFTY YEARS AGO

Dance Land at 17th and Philadelphia Ave. is featuring Duke Ellington in person along with the Metranomes, Johnny Sparrow and his Bow and Arrows and Jane Smith (Salisbury Times, July 27, 1956).

Santa Maria, a new ocean front motor hotel invites you to eat at the Captain's Table, buy clothes at Hess Apparel, Boardwalk at 9th; Pete's Chicken Koop at Phila. Ave. at 4th St. will give you a complete Delmarvalous fried chicken dinner for $2.25, flowers are found at Burton's; fishing equipment at Schafer's swordfish basin; rent a bike at Todd's Bicycle Shop; dance to the music of Hank Clausen at the Inlet Casino (Salisbury Times, August 3, 1956).