Fine Art Photography of Maryland
Feeling Something from Long Ago on the Eastern Shore of Maryland
To the east of Washington D.C., across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, is the truly picturesque Eastern Shore of Maryland. While mainly a destination for beachgoers, there is living history in the small towns between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
A land settled by Planters, Patriots, and Politicians
Rivers wind through hamlets of land, leading to large, historic, gracious waterfront estates throughout Talbot County. Viewed from the road, these estates are recognizable by long, tree-lined private driveways. Some houses have a sign with the house’s original name. During the 1600, 1700, and early 1800s, many of these estates were plantations owned by early landowners of Maryland. The Lloyd, Tilghman, and Goldsborough families were a few of the early settlers in Talbot County. They were planters, patriots, and politicians. These families served in the American Revolution and the U.S. Civil War.
The Lloyd family built Wye House, a stately antebellum plantation on the Miles Rivers. The famous enslaved Fredrick Douglass was born several miles away, across the fields at Tuckahoe plantation. Once he became of age, Frederick Douglass spent his first enslaved years during his early childhood at Wye House. Later in life, as a freeman, Frederick Douglass returned to visit the plantation and its then-owners. Fredrick Douglass writes about his experience at Wye House in his autobiography “My Bondage and My Freedom,” published in 1855.
The early families of Talbot County frequently intermarried, resulting in many grand estates that still exist today. I have been fortunate to visit these privately owned, remarkable properties by attending charity events that feature house tours.
Tilghman Island is a surprisingly small island in Talbot County surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay and the Choptank River. Additionally it is a great destination to photograph commercial fishing boats, water views, and architecture. Indigenous Native American groups initially inhabited Tilghman Island. You can still find arrowheads along the shoreline. British soldiers occupied the island during the winter of 1814. Today, watermen live and work on Tilghman Island fishing for oysters, crabs, and fish. Also, local boat captains offer fishing charters. You will see many photos from here in my Fine Art Photography of Maryland.
Situated north of Tilghman Island is the historic town of St. Michaels. Local lore is that it was “the town that fooled the British” during the War of 1812. Residents hung lanterns in high places to misguide British gunfire from a water attack on the Chesapeake Bay. While some homes were damaged, the British withdrew, and the town survived. St. Michaels is also associated with Frederick Douglass. The St. Michaels Museum offers a Frederick Douglass Walking Tour to see the historical sites related to his time there.
The Choptank River, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the Underground Railroad
Nearby Talbot County is Dorchester County, the largest county on the eastern shore. Dorchester was settled in 1669 by early landowners. The Chesapeake Bay and Choptank River border it.
Harriett Tubman was born, enslaved, and conducted the underground railroad in Dorchester County. The Harriett Tubman Museum and Educational Center provide visitors with information about not only Harriett’s enslaved life but also the famous underground railroad. Harriett navigated the swampy waters of Blackwater Refuge to guide the enslaved to escape northward to freedom on the underground railroad. Today, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located in Cambridge, Maryland, is miles of picturesque wetlands and forests offering a refuge for migratory birds, waterfowl, Canadian geese, and bald eagles. An excellent destination for wildlife and nature photography.
Within Dorchester County is historic Cambridge. The English settled in Cambridge in 1684, building large plantations. Downtown Cambridge is a contrast of loveliness and darkness. Beautiful, historic homes line the downtown streets of Cambridge towards the Choptank River. A few blocks away is the historic Dorchester County Court House. During the 1800s, the courthouse was the site of slave auctions and public hangings. Ultimately, during the 1960s, Cambridge was the site of civil rights marches ending racial segregation in the county.
Further south in Dorchester County is Hoopers Island on the Chesapeake Bay. The Hooper family settled on the island in the 1600s. Hooper’s descendants were active in the American Revolution on the Eastern Shore. Hoopers Island is now home to commercial watermen and boating captains offering fishing charters. A beautiful, rustic area to photograph.
Eastward to the Atlantic Ocean is Assateague Island. Assateague is a barrier island between the Delmarva Peninsula and the Atlantic Ocean. First home to the Assateague Native Americans, it was later conquered by the British in the 1660 and 1700s, overtaking the Assateague Native American People. The island now attracts visitors for its rustic beaches, feral horses, and lighthouse. Overall, the Eastern Shore of Maryland holds fascinating places worth exploring and photographing.
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