The city of Crisfield Maryland is now widely known as the “Crab Capital of the World” indeed the area plays host to the National Hard Crab Derby each year solidifying its reputation as one of the main seafood centres of the United States.
But while crab may be the dish of the day in contemporary Crisfield, there was a time when this area served up many more briney delights for the delectation of diners across the country.
Indeed, the site on whcih the city sits is that of the old fishing village Annemessex, and even before the settlers arrived was a recognised sweet spot for seafood used by the local native American Indians.
While city founder Benjamin Summers was responsible for the creation of the Somer’s Cove area, now one of the biggest marina’s along this coast, it was Eastern Shore Railroad president John W. Crisfield who opened up trade routes to the town some two centuries later who was responsible for the boom in the seafood business – with trains making a reliable trade more possible.
Such was the sudden demand for Crisfield’s seafood that the settlement soon became one of the most inhabited citiies in the area, meaning that there was a great need for expansion to accommodate the new arrivals.
And while oyster shells from the city’s longstanding seafood tradition had been dumped in areas outside the original settlement – much of today’s downtown now stands atop these dumps meaning Crisfield is a city that is both literally and figuratively built on oyster shells.