Somers Cove Marina
Review and History

Somers Cove Marina is located on Tangier Sound off the Chesapeake Bay in Crisfield, Maryland, the southernmost incorporated city in the State. Somers Cove Marina is about 40.4 nautical miles (64.5 kilometers or 40 miles by air) southeast of Solomons Island and about 75 nautical miles (125 kilometers or 77.5 miles by air) north-northeast of Norfolk, Virginia. In 2009, Somers Cove Marina and Crisfield were home to about 2,720 people.

For a time, Crisfield and Somers Cove Marina were the second most populous city in Maryland. Called the "Seafood Capital of the World," the catch was so plentiful that citizens built into the marshes using oyster shells and train soot as a foundation. When catches started declining in the Chesapeake Bay, the city's economy declined. Today, Crisfield's main source of income is tourism, and Somers Cove Marina is a magnet for boaters traveling the United States' East Coast.

Port History

Before white men entered the future Crisfield area, the indigenous Pocomoke Nation dominated Somerset and parts of surrounding Maryland counties. The Pocomoke were the ruling tribe in an empire that included the Acquintankee, Chingoteage, Morumsco, Annamessee, Mannanoakin, Nuswattax, and Quandanquan.

The Pocomoke people are an Algonquian-speaking sub-tribe within the Powhatan Nation. Today's Crisfield and Somers Cove Marina marked the northern reach of the Pocomoke Nation of the past. At their height, the Pocomoke reaped the rich resources of the Chesapeake Bay including fish, game, and planted crops. The Pocomoke grew their own corn (maize), squash, and other crops, and they hunted a variety of game including waterfowl, squirrels and rabbit, raccoons, elk, and bear.

The 1646 Treaty of Middle Plantation effectively brought the Pocomoke Nation to an end. The Europeans' policy was to disperse and assimilate indigenous cultures. While the natives clung to their cultural heritage, the King of England and Colonial governments worked hard to destroy the culture and prohibit its practices.

In the face of systematic pressure from the Colonists, the Pocomoke fought to preserve their heritage, passing on their economic traditions and religious beliefs to new generations. Despite attempts to eliminate the tribe, the indigenous people continued to honor their history and traditions.

The Pocomoke applied for State recognition and, in 1994, they held their first Pow Wow since the old days. Today, the Pocomoke Nation is attempting to re-unify the people and to join with other tribes on the Eastern Shore in asserting their independence. When the Pocomoke's Annemessex branch lived at the location of the future Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield, their village was known as Annemessex Neck. They used the Annemessex River for fishing.

In 1663, English settler Benjamin Summers arrived at the site of the future Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield to claim his headright (a grant of land offered to anyone who would help populate the Colonies). At first, Summers received 250 acres he called Emmessex. In 1683, he acquired another 200 acres, calling it Musketa Hummock. Combined with a third 100-acre tract, the three plots of land came to be known as Somers Cove.

Somers Cove was quickly an important distribution hub for seafood destined for the United States' East Coast. By the early 19th Century, there were more than 100 buildings in Somers Cove, and this was before colonies of oysters were found in the Chesapeake Bay.

Lawyer John W. Crisfield was influential in bringing the railroad to Somers Cove in 1866. A branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad system, the Eastern Shore Railroad, came to Crisfield and Somers Cove. That year, a second railroad branch arrived. In 1872, the town was incorporated as Crisfield, its name honoring the lawyer. The railroad encouraged a healthy economy in the young Crisfield.

Before long, Crisfield and Somers Cove earned the nickname "Seafood Capital of the World." In the early 20th Century, an industrial boom made Crisfield the second biggest city in Maryland with a population of about 25 thousand people. Somers Cove's rich marine resources created a lot of train soot and oyster shells that were discarded in the neighboring marshes. Eventually, a new peninsula was created where today's downtown Crisfield and the Somers Cove Marina was built.

As the health of Chesapeake Bay declined, so did Crisfield's economy. Reductions in oyster populations made it impossible for local fishermen to earn a living, and the watermen moved away. Businesses soon followed, either closing or moving to other more promising locations. In 1976, the railroad that had brought prosperity to Somers Cove was abandoned. Later, it would be replaced by a new highway.

Crisfield did not begin to revive until the late 1900s, when fast food and seafood restaurants found a market in Somers Cove. A mega-supermarket finally opened in Crisfield in April 2010. In the first decade of the 21st Century, new condominiums started appearing in the area around Somers Cove Marina, and Crisfield embarked on a revitalization plan in 2006.

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