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Almost a State of Delmarva Featured Image
Way Back Machine

WAY BACK MACHINE: The Almost State of Delmarva, 1830s

In 1833, the Eastern Shore came within a whisker of becoming part of Delaware. One vote! That's all that prevented the union. No one called our peninsula "Delmarva" back in 1833. But lots of people recognized it as a well-defined place unto itself, thanks to a mix of geography and deep-seated cultural affinities. Lots of folks also thought it was kinda strange, how history had…
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

This Rug Tells a Bedtime Story: When Pittsville Was “the Strawberry Capital of the World”

"The Strawberry Capital of the World:" That's the title of the artwork above by a famous "rug hooker," Mary Sheppard Burton. The setting is our own Pittsville, Md., one of the towns just off of Route 50 between Salisbury and Ocean City. (The artwork is below here as well, in a bigger size at the end of the story.) Burton was born in Salisbury in…
Strange & WondrousWay Back Machine

The Futuro House Aims for the Stratosphere

This is a free excerpt from my book, You Wouldn't Believe! 44 Strange and Wondrous Delmarva Tales. More info about that and my other books exploring the history, travel, and culture on the Eastern Shore and in Delaware here. Unless you’re a pilot taking off from the tiny Eagle Crest Airport or a worshipper bound for Burton Chapel AME Church, there’s no reason to take a westbound…
April 22, 2023
Way Back Machine

What This Old Building Says About Salisbury–and all of Delmarva

In 2022 The City of Salisbury, Md. received a big state grant to help get started on a plan to rescue and revitalize the dilapidated old Union Station building on Railroad Avenue. Seeing those headlines inspired me to put together this bullet-point look at how that old structure fits into the fabric of the history of Salisbury—and, in fact, the whole of the Delmarva Peninsula.…
Frenchtown New Castle Railroad Featured Photo
Way Back Machine

A Railroad Milestone, with Doomed Cow, Peach Baskets, and a Modern Cocktail

As I was putting this piece together, railroad safety was front and center in our 21st-century news media. Two big train derailments, one spewing toxic chemicals in an Ohio town. Who’s to blame? What should be done? How can railroad safety be improved? I don’t have answers to those questions, but I can tell you about the birthplace of railroad safety—the very first place in…
John H Muiholland Featured Photo
CharactersFrom the BooksWay Back Machine

This Milford, Del. Man Helped Ice Cream Parlors Take Off in the 1920s

This is a free excerpt from my book, You Wouldn't Believe! 44 Strange & Wondrous Delmarva Tales. That's right, the book has 43 other stories like this one. Info on the book here. The only folks who screamed for ice cream when that delicacy first came on the market were the filthy rich. The history of the ice cream parlors we know today dates back…
CharactersWay Back Machine

William Major Parker: The Pioneering Black Keeper at Killick Shoal Lighthouse

Stories from the golden age of lighthouses in the 1800s tend to be white-men-only affairs for sad and obvious reasons—slavery, discrimination, and prejudice. But tantalizing exceptions to this rule are out there, including the remarkable story of William Major Parker and his career as a keeper on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. We’ll meet him in a moment. First, a smidgeon of scene-setting. The work…
Storm of 1939 Featured Photo
Way Back Machine

The 10-Minute Storm that Turned into the ‘Worst Tragedy in Skipjack History,’ 1939

Nothing in the forecast for Feb. 3, 1939 hinted at trouble. The Baltimore Sun promised a ho-hum winter day: “Rain today, and probably tomorrow. Colder tonight.” Oystermen in the Chesapeake Bay didn’t see any red flags during their workday. A pair of then-young watermen, Art Daniels and Jimmy Murphy, were aboard the Robert L. Tawes out of Deal Island, Md. Years later, they remembered toiling…