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I lead the way along “Talbot County Backroads” in a chapter from my book Eastern Shore Road Trips #1: 27 One-Day Adventures on Delmarva. On this trip we wind along one country road after another—they’re all beautiful, and they all have interesting stories to tell. Case in point: Here is the snippet from the book about Claiborne, Md.:

“Back on straight and narrow Route 33, there is a third interesting turn up ahead, this one headed north on Claiborne Road into a quiet little town of 150 or so souls that takes its name from William Claiborne, the English fur trader who famously settled Kent Island clear back in 1631. If you follow Claiborne Road through town, you will find your way to the boat launch up at the edge of town. From there, you can usually see far enough to catch a glimpse Kent Island off in the distance.

“There are a couple of steps leading down from the parking lot and out through some marsh grass onto an itty-bitty beach looking out over the Eastern Bay. The long, skinny spit of land just north of the boat ramp is the landing where the Claiborne ferry stopped between 1890 and 1952. That was the town’s heyday—there were hotels and rooming houses here back then, as well as a busy railroad line that took travelers through Easton and on their way to Ocean City. Claiborne was also the home then of the wonderfully named Claiborne Fresh Air Association, a charity that gave big-city children who had been exposed to tuberculosis a retreat full of fresh air and summer fun.

“Come Sunday evenings, traffic on Claiborne Road would be backed up for several miles in those ferry years, with drivers waiting their turn to board the boat and get back to the big city. The ferry stopped running here just as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge opened up. In fact, if you cast your glance up toward Kent Island and think about all the cars on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at any given moment, you will see that this is as good a place as any to get a sense for the enormity of the changes that came to small towns like this once the bridge opened in 1952.”

Be sure to scroll down past the note below to see some great photos from Claiborne back in her heyday.

–posted by Jim Duffy on Dec. 7, 2020 for Secrets of the Eastern Shore/Whimbrel Creations LLC. All rights reserved.

NOTE: I have three books out, two collections of Delmarva “road trips” and one collection of journeys in the footsteps of Underground Railroad heroes from our area. The books make great gifts for daytripping and armchair travelers alike. More info here. Plus, those photos I promised–there are six of them:

Claiborne, Maryland Street Scene from Postcard Postmark 1920

A Claiborne street scene from a postcard that was mailed back in 1920.


C.G. Jackson Fancy Groceries in Claiborne, Md.

C.G. Jackson Fancy Groceries in Claiborne, Md. in the early 1900s.

Steamship Cambridge II docked at Claiborne, Md. right next to the railroad line

The steamboat Cambridge II docked at Claiborne, Md. right alongside the railroad line that took passengers to Ocean City

A train Leaves the steamboat wharf at Claiborne, Maryland

A train departs the Claiborne steamboat wharf.

Advertisement for the Miracle House in Claiborne, Md.

The mission of the Miracle House was to prevent tuburculosis cases by providing poor urban children with fresh air, exercise, and proper nutrition.

The Claiborne Hall boarding house in Claiborne, Md.

The Claiborne Hall boarding house, date uncertain.


  • Kathy Metrick says:

    I found some photographs of Camp Casa Wala taken in the early 1930s in Claiborne. There is one quite clear picture of a ferry named the something Lincoln. I can’t make out the first word. Also included are some pictures taken on Tilghman Creek. Would anyone be interested in these pictures? Otherwise, I will destory them.

    Thank you,
    Kathy Metrick

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