A visitor of the very rural Calvert County would be shocked to discover that a beach town is tucked away into the northeastern most corner of the county. Locals, however think nothing of it, even though they may not know the rich history of how a vacation destination came to be a part of their community.
The Chesapeake Beach Railway Company incorporated the town of Chesapeake Beach just four years before the turn of the 19th century. The idea for the town was originally that of the Washington and Chesapeake Beach Railway Company, which received a grant to charter the town in 1894. The town was meant to be a vacation destination and resort that was affordable and in close proximity to Washington D.C.
It became just that after it’s grand opening in June of 1900. The town began to flourish well into the ‘20’s. It was popular due to attractions such as the boardwalk, amusement parks, and slot machines. The 28-mile train ride from D.C. also played a major role in the early success of location. In the peak of the resort’s prosperity, as many as 10,000 people would flock to Chesapeake Beach to enjoy its various offerings during the summer weekends.
The neighboring town of North Beach began to grow alongside Chesapeake Beach, and the two have since been referred to as the “Twin Beaches.”
The popular, “Belvedere Hotel,” in Chesapeake Beach was destroyed by a fire in 1923, which began the decline of the initial resort. Twelve years later, the railway company suffered from an economic depression and experienced bankruptcy, putting a damper on the town’s visitors.
Another factor that took local vacationers away from Chesapeake Beach was the construction of the Bay Bridge in the 1950’s. This drew people who previously vacationed at Chesapeake Beach to Ocean City, and it’s adjacent Delaware beaches.
Many would say that Chesapeake Beach has experienced a sort of rebirth in recent years. Slot machines, restaurants, and the popular, Chesapeake Beach Water Park have all contributed to the increase in visitors. The railroad no longer exists, but one can get a feel for what used to be by visiting the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum, located right next to the Rod ‘N’ Reel Restaurant.
Chesapeake Beach may no longer be home to a roller coaster or performing bears like it once was, but the town is still packed full of great reasons to visit.