Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

The Hooper Strait Lighthouse, built in 1879, is located on the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum campus.| Courtesy photo

Learn about the history, environment and cultures of the Chesapeake Bay region with a visit to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, or CBMM, in St. Michaels, located in Talbot County.

Founded in 1965 on Navy Point , CBMM’s 18-acre waterfront campus was once the site of a busy complex of seafood packing houses, docks, and work boats said CBMM Vice President of Communications Tracey Johns.

Today, the museum collection contains more than 70,000 objects, all related to the Chesapeake Bay. The museum includes a fleet of historic boats and 12 exhibition buildings, located on 18 waterfront acres along the Miles River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, and St. Michaels’ harbor.

“Audiences of all ages, who love the water and want to experience more of the Chesapeake Bay, its history, environment, traditions, boats, and people, enjoy an authentic Chesapeake Bay experience at CBMM,” Johns said.

Hooper Strait Lighthouse

A highlight of the museum is touring the Hooper Strait Lighthouse built in 1879.

“Guests can climb to the top just like the lighthouse keepers of the past did, to take in expansive views of the Miles River and historic St. Michaels,” said Johns.

According to the CBMM website, the 19th century structure is a screw-pile lighthouse, meaning it was built on iron pilings that “were tipped with a screw that could be turned into the muddy bottom for a depth of 10 feet or more.”

Johns added that the Hooper Strait Lighthouse has not always resided in its current location. In 1965, it was condemned by the U.S. government and was slated to be demolished. CBMM purchased it from a demolition contractor for $1,000 and moved it sixty miles north to its new home on Navy Point in 1966.

Other exhibits and features

The CBMM features a variety of interactive exhibits, including the “Small Boat Shed” which contains boats that were used for fishing, oystering and crabbing on the Chesapeake Bay.

The Lorraine exhibit is featured in the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s “Small Boat Shed.” The exhibit includes skiffs and other small craft that were commonly used on the Chesapeake Bay for fishing, oystering and crabbing.| Courtesy photo

At the “Boatyard,” guests can view the restoration of the Edna E. Lockwood, which served as an oyster dredge from 1889 to 1967. This oyster boat, called a “bugeye” was designated as U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1994. This project is slated to be completed by 2018.

In addition to interactive, educational exhibits, the museum offers a 45-minute cruise on the Miles River aboard the authentic 1920 Chesapeake buyboat the Winnie Estelle, May through October each Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Guests can also rent sailing vessels, rowing vessels and wooden kayaks through the CBMM Boat Shop.

CBMM events

CBMM hosts a variety of events throughout the year including boat shows and concerts. The biggest CBMM event is OysterFest, an annual celebration of the Chesapeake Bay oyster. Set for Saturday, Oct. 28, the event will feature live music, boat rides, local fare, oyster demonstrations, harvesting displays and documentary screenings.

About CBBM

CBMM is located at 213 North Talbot Street, St. Michaels, Maryland 21663. Museum hours are November through April, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; May through October, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

At the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Boatyard, guests can view the restoration of the Edna E. Lockwood, which served as an oyster dredge from 1889 to 1967. This project is slated to be completed by 2018.|Courtesy photo

Admission is $15 for adults ages 18 to 61; $12 for seniors ages 62 and over, students 17 and older with a college ID and retired military; $6 for children 6 to 17; active duty military and children 5 and under are free.

CBMM participates in the Blue Star Museum program, which offers free admission to Soldiers and immediate family members during the summer months.

“This is the seventh year CBMM is participating in the Blue Star Museums program,” Johns said. “We participate as a way of showing our gratitude to our service members and their families for the sacrifices they make on our behalf, every day.”

The museum has picnic areas along the waterfront, and is located within walking distance to many St. Michaels restaurants, Johns said.

For more information, call 410-745-2916, or email


By Rachel Ponder, APG News

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