|Home Sweet Home|
Part 2: In the mid-1800’s, the Eastern Shore was a popular stop on steamboat vacations.
By Eileen Mansfield — October 2002
The Chesapeake is also known for crab cakes and steamers. But, ironically, I'm allergic to seafood, so I asked my father to join me on the cruise as my designated seafood taste-tester. Photographer Erik Rank rounded out the guest list.
After a tour of the boat, we settle in for a sunset dinner cruise with a few of our hosts' friends, Capt. John Phillips and his wife Lynette and Rich and Patty Cotton. Guests gather on the foredeck settees while Silva mans the helm and Fetterolf disappears into the galley, emerging soon after with a delicious baked Brie and a crab dip that I am told is wonderful.
As we cruise down the Sassafras, Cotton and Phillips point out historic plantations and homes that belonged to families with famous names like Heinz, Maytag, DuPont, Decker (of Black & Decker), and, of course, Firestone.
In the mid-1800’s, the Eastern Shore was a popular stop on steamboat vacations. Hotels and resorts popped up along the water, as did casinos, dance halls, arcades, and amusement parks. We pass Batterton, which Phillips tells me was the spot in its heyday. "But the invention of cars allowed people to travel further," he says, and the steamboat vacations lost their appeal.
As the sun sets, Fetterolf serves dinner, which includes glazed tenderloin of beef with cheddar garlic mashed potatoes. Cotton points out a bald eagle that appears to be following us as Phillips continues to regale us with stories of the Chesapeake and Sassafras. The area is still a big vacation spot, and the locals sometimes refer to the Sassafras as the Pennsylvania Navy because it is a big draw to vacationers from that state.
The next day we motor about six hours (around 43 nautical miles) south down the Eastern Shore until we hit Tolchester Channel, where we turn west. We pass under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which celebrates its 50th anniversary not a week later, and dock just south of the bridge in Annapolis. Rank, my father, and I intend to tour the historic town, but after visiting Main Street and the Maryland State House, we decide 98 degrees is far too hot for a walking tour and make our way to the Ram's Head Tavern and Fordham Brewing Company to cool off. Once Cindy, our bartender, serves us a pint of the bar's seasonal brew, Wisteria Wheat, we know we've come to the right place.
As you might expect, many Annapolis residents have a connection to the marine industry. At the bar sit delivery captains, Naval Academy alumni, even a former submarine captain. We also run into a farmer, Wally Treiber, who likes Ram's Head beer so much, he not only takes home jugs of it, he also takes home the leftover mash to feed to his cows.
After soliciting dining recommendations we swing by Tireless to pick up Silva and Fetterolf and then head to the Chart House, which is actually housed in the old Trumpy paint shed. It sits right on the water and has great views of the harbor from the front, but my only side view is of a white megayacht. Although the restaurant is spacious, we try to imagine how the building managed to house as many as four Trumpys at one time. I salivate my way through dinner while my companions dine on the steamers and crab cakes. Don't get me wrong--the tenderloin medallions are nothing to complain about.