03 -Tolchester Beach



Kayaking Inspired Gifts - Sales Help Support This Site




With the advent of steamship routes on the Chesapeake Bay, Tolchester Beach in Kent Co., Md. became a favorite destination for Baltimoreans, 27 miles across the bay. After the 1880s, as steamship travel became more popular, improvements were made to the park, and eventually there were hotels, restaurants, and facilities for games, picnics, horse-racing, etc. An amusement park featured a merry-go-round and roller coaster, with games including a shooting range and tenpin bowling alley. Other activities were bathing and crabbing.




from Rock Hall Web Site and Maryland Historical Society

Cecelius Calvert, Lord Proprietor of Maryland, granted a tract of land containing several hundred acres to William Toulson, in the year 1659. During the ensuing century and 1/2, the land known asTolchester changed hands many times, being subdivided among many different owners. In the early 1800's, John Thomas Mitchell purchased the entire Tolchester tract including the adjoining "Gresham Hall" and, also, what is know today as "the Mitchell House", built in 1743.






In 1876, the Mitchell family sold 1050 acres to John Ambrewster and wife, Sarah, of Camden, N.J., for $23,500. During the same period, Calvin Taggart and his son, E. B. Taggart, of Philadelphia, were operating a steamship line on the Delaware River with plans to expand their operation to include the upper Chesapeake Bay. A third party, William C. Eliason, entered the picture when he was employed by the Taggarts to work as a deck hand on the steamboat, Lamokin. The Ambrewster, Taggarts and Eliason, now captain of the steamboat, Pilot Boy, joined forces and formed the Tolchester Improvement Company.

Maryland Historical Society



The original plan was to connect the steamship line with a railroad being built across Kent County. The county railroad was to connect Tolchester with the Smyrna & Delaware Railroad. Unfortunately the railroad went bankrupt and never found its way to Tolchester. In the absence of the railroad, a new plan had to be devised by Ambrewster, Taggart, and Eliason to utilize the boats, the land and docking facilities in Tolchester and the docking facilities leased in Baltimore.

The year 1877 saw the opening of an amusement park on ten acres of land, a somewhat primitive park, under the supervision of Captain Eliason. The resort included picnic grounds with tables, a few concessions, a bath house, a hand propelled merry-go-round, and a hand organ pulled by a goat. Thus was the beginning of the most popular beach resort along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, destined to provide entertainment and fond lifelong memories to millions of patrons during the next eighty-five years.


Maryland Historical Society



The Tolchester Steamboat Company, incorporated in 1878, ran excursion steamships to Tolchester Beach from Pier 15 at Light Street in Baltimore. One of the most popular excursion steamers on the bay was the company’s side-wheeler Louise, acquired in 1882. With a capacity of 2,500 passengers, Louise is said to have carried 5 million passengers in 40 years of operation.

Maryland Historical Society



At times, the Tolchester Steamboat Company operated routes to Annapolis, and along other Maryland waterways including the Susquehanna, Sassafras, and Little Choptank Rivers. The Susquehanna, a screw steamer built in 1898, ran to Betterton, Port Deposit and Havre de Grace under the direction of Capt. John Kirwan. The Express, purchased in 1925, was a double-end side-wheeler with an extra deck to carry automobiles.

The original Tolchester Steamboat Company closed in 1936, and was taken over by a new company, Tolchester Lines, Inc. In the late 1950s the company was sold and resold, with the Tolchester Beach excursion service and park lands remaining in operation through the early 1960s. The land at Tolchester Beach was finally sold for development in 1962.

Tolchester Beach, in its prime, expanded to 155 acres and was serviced by six steamers and a ferry. Happy visitors stayed at the great summer hotel on the top of the bluff. Here were to be found a dance hall, a roller coaster, bowling alleys, a bingo parlor, a roller skating rink, the whip, dodgems, pony and goat carts, boat rides, a miniature steam train named Jumbo, novelty and candy shops, and popcorn, ice cream, hot dogs and kewpie doll stands.


Steamships at Tolchester Beach


At its height, Tolchester Beach attracted as many as 20,000 visitors a weekend from across the bay an the Eastern Shore. After flourishing for eight-five years, Tolchester Beach passed from the scene, finally closing in 1962.

Recalls Judi Leaming,"How many of you remember the era when the highlight of your summer season was the annual Sunday School picnic??? My earliest memories of Sunday School picnics was the magic and excitement of going to Tolchester Beach, a long-gone amusement park on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. A trip to Tolchester and a ride on the merry-go-round and the little train that chugged through a scarey_ tunnel were absolutely the most exciting thing that I could do. I never did get up the courage to ride on the rickety roller coaster! Those were the days!!! Even Disney World in all of it's animation and glory cannot wipe away those memories."


Sp






Forum




EVEN THE BEST BOATERS CAN FIND THEMSELVES IN SERIOUS TROUBLE ON THE MILDEST OF DAYS ON THE WATER. PARTICIPATION IN THIS SPORT IS A STRENUOUS ACTIVITY. CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY SUCH ACTIVITY. PLEASE BE AWARE THAT EACH BOATER TAKES FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS OR HER OWN SAFETY, AND IS TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSESSING THE DANGER LEVEL AND ACCEPTING THE CONSEQUENCES OF PARTICIPATING IN THIS SPORT.


SeaKayak Chesapeake bay makes no representations and extends no warranties of any type as to the accuracy or completeness of any information or content on this website.This website is for informational purposes only. All of the information provided on this website is provided "AS-IS" and with NO WARRANTIES. No express or implied warranties of any type, including for example implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, are made with respect to the information, or any use of the information, on this site.


Maps and map related products available on this website, including but not limited to imagery, data, and data sources are hereby specifically identified as being unsuitable for use in navigation. By using any of these products or services, you have agreed to these terms, whether or not the map or any other use is labeled “Not for Navigation”.

Copyright on original material by Sea Kayak Chesapeake Bay TM 2001 through 2019. All rights reserved.

S

k