Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Opening and its effect on Ocean City, MD
by Lucky Jordan
2010


Lucky Jordan front row second from the left
In Lucky Jordan's own words

I was a member of the Ocean City Beach Patrol along with 19, maybe 20 others the weekend the Chesapeake Bay Bridge opened in 1952. The legendary Captain Bob Craig briefed us prior to that weekend emphasizing the fact that we should expect a much larger beach crowd than usual and would have to do the job with the same number of guards that we already had. By Friday we experienced more people on the beach than we had ever seen and by Saturday it was almost wall-to-wall people with their blankets, umbrellas, beach balls and miscellaneous items. It was estimated that the number of people had tripled over the usual crowd.
To complicate matters, the Annual Fireman’s Conventions was in town as well. Most of the firemen enjoyed their cold beer on a hot sunny day and many who were poor swimmers along with the general population.
To further complicate matters, the weather was beautiful with warm sun and a strong cool wind off the ocean that built good sized breakers over the sand bar about 75 to 100 yards off the shore. This eventually created “rip currents” all along the beach as breaks in the sand bar allowed the receding waves to funnel through on the way back to the sea. The sea foam inside the breaker line was a foot to a foot and a half thick.
The situation changed a normal weekend of casually keeping the beach goers safe with an occasional rescue to a weekend of almost one pull after another all along the beach. Many of us stayed long after quitting time during the weekend simply because we were afraid to the leave the beach unguarded. It was a testament to all the guards that we didn’t lose any one over that weekend. You might wonder why Captain Craig didn’t close the beach with the conditions the way they were, but at that time the fact that Federal property began at the high water mark was a confusing factor and it was some time before the authority trickled down to the local level.
At that time the swimming beach only extended from the inlet to about 18th Street and the normal compliment of Beach Patrol Members was between 19 to sometimes 25.
Today, the beach is guarded all the way to the Delaware line with as many as 180+ guards under the command of Captain Butch Arbin on duty during the summer season and special events. In my opinion the “Bridge”, by eliminating the need to wait in line at the old Annapolis Ferry for an unknown amount of time, was a major factor in the growth of Ocean City as well as the Eastern Shore in general.