Chesapeake Quarterly
Once Were Bay Beaches
book cover

Grand hotels, dedicated railway lines, wide boardwalks, and a stream of big city tourists. For most of us, stories of the Bay's beach resorts have slipped into the past, a lost part of the region's history. Bay writer Lara Lutz has rescued those stories in a new book, Chesapeake's Western Shore: Vintage Vacationland. A pictorial tour, the book is part of the Images of America series produced by Arcadia Publishing.

In her introduction, Lutz traces the region's development from Bayside farming and fishing communities to inland cities built by the industrial age. Eventually those city dwellers, sweltering in summer heat, looked back toward the Bay for relief and for a quick get-away. She writes that some of these vacation spots were modest enclaves along quiet coves but that others sported large entertainment venues that drew thousands.

She also describes restrictions that banned minority races and religions, and how those minorities found their own places to enjoy Bayside fishing, picnicking, and swimming — places like Highland Beach near Annapolis and the Captain Salem Avery house in Shady Side.

Chesapeake's Western Shore gives an inside look at private resort communities that sprang up on rivers like the Magothy and the Severn, and at commercial beaches like Bay Ridge that looked straight out on the Bay. Those more accustomed to Ocean City and the Atlantic beaches will find an interesting portrait of shores on a smaller scale and intriguing pictures of the past.

Chesapeake's Western Shore: Vintage Vacationland by Lara Lutz, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 2009, 128 pp, is available at bookstores and on the web.

August 2009
vol. 8, no. 3
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