Worcester County /ˈwʊərstər/ is the easternmost county of the U.S. state of Maryland. As of the 2010 census, the population was 51,454. Its county seat is Snow Hill. It is the only county of Maryland that borders the Atlantic Ocean. The county was named for Mary Arundell, the wife of Sir John Somerset, a son of Henry Somerset, 1st Marquess of Worcester. She was sister to Anne Arundell (Anne Arundel County), wife of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, the first Proprietor and Proprietary Governor of the Province of Maryland.
Worcester County is included in the Salisbury, MD-DE Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county includes the entire length of the state's ocean and tidewater coast along the Intracoastal Waterway bordering Assawoman Bay, Isle of Wight Bay, Sinepuxent Bay, and Chincoteague Bay between the sand barrier islands of Fenwick Island and Assateague Island bordering the Atlantic Ocean coast. It is home to the popular vacation resort area of Ocean City, founded 1875, as well as wild habitats on the primitive wilderness areas on Assateague Island and in the Pocomoke River and Swamp.
Location within the U.S. state of Maryland
Maryland's location within the U.S.
|Named for||Family of Marquess of Worcester|
|Largest community||Ocean Pines|
|• Total||695 sq mi (1,800 km2)|
|• Land||468 sq mi (1,210 km2)|
|• Water||227 sq mi (590 km2) 33%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||74/sq mi (29/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
Worcester County was created by the division of the formerly larger Eastern Shore's Somerset County in 1742. The county seat, which was previously located near the confluence of Dividing Creek with the Pocomoke River, was later transferred to the river port of Snow Hill, at the head of navigation of the Pocomoke, now near the center of the new county.
Both the areas of Somerset and Worcester Counties were divided into old colonial divisions of "hundreds", from south to north: Mattapony, Pocomoke, Boquetenorton, Wicomico, and Baltimore Hundreds. Later subdivisions of these hundreds added Pitts Creek, Acquango, Queponco, and Buckingham & Worcester Hundreds, all of which in turn eventually became election districts for the newly independent state following American independence. Competing territorial claims between the Proprietor family of the Calverts and the Lords Baltimore in the old Province of Maryland and the Penns of the neighboring Province of Pennsylvania to the north and of what later became the state of Delaware to the east led to the surveying of Worcester County's northern border, the "Transpeninsular Line" in 1751, though boundary disputes continued through the rest of the colonial period, not totally settled until the work of the famous Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon with their "Mason–Dixon line". In 1779, Stephen Decatur, the famous United States Navy officer and hero of the First Barbary War and the Second Barbary War in the early 1800s, and leading into the War of 1812, was born at Sinepuxent, near what is today the town of Berlin.
Originally settled by European immigrants of British and Irish stock, along with slaves of mainly West African descent, Worcester County was divided during the colonial period into several Church of England parishes, though Quakers, Presbyterians, and later Methodists also set up meeting houses. Like the border states in general, Worcester County had a high proportion of free people of color for many decades before the Civil War, due in part to the influence of initially Quakerism, and later Methodism.
Worcester County was primarily an agricultural area from its inception, first planting tobacco, but when the quality produced in the area's sandy soil could not compete with that produced elsewhere, they began growing wheat, corn, and livestock. Early industrial activity included the smelting of bog iron ore in a brick blast furnace to make pig iron at Furnacetown in the first half of the 19th century. The presence of large bald cypress swamps along the Pocomoke River led to logging, the manufacture of roofing shingles, and shipbuilding along the river at Newtown (later Pocomoke City). The arrival of steam-powered water transport and then the railroad opened urban markets to another of Worcester County's principal products: seafood, particularly shellfish. Oysters, clams, and crabs were shipped to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Soon after the Civil War (to each side of which Worcester County sent soldiers), parts of both Worcester and Somerset Counties were combined to create, in 1867, Wicomico County. Also in the later 19th century, the seaside resort of Ocean City was founded.
Truck farming and the canning industry came to the fore during the early 20th century. However, both the seafood industry and truck farming declined after mid-century, due to overfishing on the one hand, and the opening of California's Central Valley to irrigated agriculture on the other, but the advent of the large-scale poultry industry filled this gap. The expansion of Ocean City since the 1960s has turned the northern part of the county from a summer resort to an expanding year-round community.
Two major storms influenced the course of Worcester County history in the 20th Century: the hurricane of August 1933, which badly damaged Ocean City and Public Landing, but also cut the Ocean City Inlet and passageway between the inner bays west of the sandy barrier islands of Assawoman Bay, Sinepuxent Bay and Assateague Channel and Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, and the later Ash Wednesday "Nor'easter" of 1962, which destroyed much of the residential development on Assateague Island and led to the creation of the National Seashore and State Park.
Worcester County was granted home rule in 1976 under a state code under the amendments to the fourth Maryland Constitution of 1867. The Circuit Court of Maryland and District Court of Maryland are located in Snow Hill with two district courthouses. The county is governed by a Board of Commissioners elected from seven districts. The current president is Diana Purnell (D). Theodore J. (Ted) Elder (R) serves as vice president. The remaining commissioners are Madison James (Jim) Bunting, Jr. (R), James C. (Bud) Church (R), Merrill Lockfaw (R), Anthony W. (Chip) Bertino, Jr. (R) and Joseph Mitrecic (R).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 695 square miles (1,800 km2), of which 468 square miles (1,210 km2) is land and 227 square miles (590 km2) (33%) is water. It is the third-largest county in Maryland by total area.
The terrain is mostly level and coastal. The lowest elevation is sea level along the Atlantic Ocean and the highest elevation is 49 ft (15 m) in the northwestern part of the county along State Route 12 just south of the Wicomico County line.
Freight trains run from Snow Hill north to Berlin and the Delaware border on the Maryland and Delaware Railroad, and the main line (formerly Pennsylvania Railroad) from Philadelphia to Cape Charles, Virginia and Norfolk runs through the southwestern corner of the county, operated by the Delmarva Central Railroad. The Ocean City Municipal Airport is located near Ocean City, but has no scheduled service. The nearest airport with commercial air service is the Salisbury–Ocean City–Wicomico Regional Airport near Salisbury.
Shore Transit provides public transportation in Worcester County, operating bus routes connecting Pocomoke City, Snow Hill, Berlin, and Ocean City with Princess Anne and Salisbury. Ocean City Transportation operates bus service branded as Beach Bus in Ocean City. DART First State's Beach Bus Route 208 connects Ocean City with the Delaware Beaches in the summer months.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2000, there were 46,543 people, 19,694 households, and 13,273 families residing in the county. The population density was 98 people per square mile (38/km²). There were 47,360 housing units at an average density of 100 per square mile (39/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 81.20% White, 16.66% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. 1.28% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 15.7% were of German, 13.3% English, 12.6% Irish, 11.1% American and 6.0% Italian ancestry.
There were 19,694 households out of which 24.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.20% were married couples living together, 10.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.60% were non-families. 26.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.79.
In the county, the population was spread out with 20.50% under the age of 18, 6.20% from 18 to 24, 26.40% from 25 to 44, 26.90% from 45 to 64, and 20.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.30 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $40,650, and the median income for a family was $47,293. Males had a median income of $31,735 versus $24,319 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,505. About 7.20% of families and 9.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.00% of those under age 18 and 6.40% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 51,454 people, 22,229 households, and 14,598 families residing in the county. The population density was 109.9 inhabitants per square mile (42.4/km2). There were 55,749 housing units at an average density of 119.1 per square mile (46.0/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 82.0% white, 13.6% black or African American, 1.1% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 1.2% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 3.2% of the population. In terms of ancestry the county was 18.9% German, 18.2% Irish, 17.1% English and 7.7% Italian. If people who wrote they were a combination of "Irish", "English" and "German" (in any order) were counted as one group, they would be 31.9%, and the largest group in the county.
Of the 22,229 households, 24.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.9% were married couples living together, 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 34.3% were non-families, and 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.76. The median age was 48.1 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $55,487 and the median income for a family was $67,408. Males had a median income of $44,986 versus $37,785 for females. The per capita income for the county was $31,520. About 6.2% of families and 10.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.2% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.
The following institutions are part of the Worcester County public school system, governed by the Worcester County Board of Education:
In the fall of 2008 Worcester County has plans to open Worcester Technical High School to all residents of the county, to replace Worcester Career and Technology Center.
The following private schools also operate in Worcester County:
This county contains the following incorporated municipalities:
The Census Bureau recognizes the following census-designated places in the county:
Assateague State Park is a public recreation area in Worcester County, Maryland, USA,, located at the north end of Assateague Island, a barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Sinepuxent Bay on the west. The state park is bordered on both its north and south sides by Assateague Island National Seashore and is reached via the Verrazano Bridge which carries Maryland Route 611 across Sinepuxent Bay. The park offers wildlife viewing, beach activities, and camping facilities. It is managed by the Maryland Park Service of the larger Maryland Department of Natural Resources with the support of volunteers working under the auspices of the non-profit Friends of Assateague State Park.Assawoman Bay
Assawoman Bay (locally ), once called Assawoman Sound, is a lagoon that is located between Ocean City, Maryland and mainland Delmarva. The bay is located on the northern end of the city, the bay on the southern end is called the Isle of Wight Bay. Another bay called Little Assawoman Bay extends into southern Delaware, and is geologically separated from the main estuaries, by a narrow strait locally referred to as "The Ditch" which crosses the Transpeninsular Line. The larger bay is sometimes called "Big Assawoman Bay", to distinguish it from the smaller bay, though this is often meant to be a tongue-in-cheek rendering of the name.Buckingham Archeological Site
Buckingham Archeological Site is an archaeological site near Berlin in Worcester County, Maryland. It is one of the few known Woodland period village sites in the coastal marsh areas of the Atlantic Coast section of Maryland. The site falls within the general vicinity of an Assateague Indian town. It is located four miles east of the Sandy Point Site, both including the southernmost reported occurrence of Townsend Series ceramics on the coastal section of the Eastern Shore.It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.Calvin B. Taylor House
The Calvin B. Taylor House is a historic U.S. home located at 208 Main Street, Berlin, Maryland. The house currently serves as The Calvin B. Taylor House Museum, which displays antiques and local memorabilia.Chincoteague Bay
Chincoteague Bay (locally ) is a lagoon between the Atlantic barrier islands of Assateague and Chincoteague and the mainland of Worcester County, Maryland and northern Accomack County, Virginia. At the bay's northern end, where it narrows between Assateague and Sinepuxent Neck, it becomes Sinepuxent Bay; Chincoteague Bay's southern end drains into the Atlantic Ocean via Queen Sound and Chincoteague Inlet. No major river flows into Chincoteague Bay—its largest tributaries are Newport Creek in Worcester County and Swans Gut Creek in Accomack County.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Chincoteague Bay was well known for its shellfish industry, which shipped oysters, crabs, and clams to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. The shellfish industry was based in several landings and small towns: Taylors Landing at Girdletree, Maryland, George Island Landing at Stockton, Maryland, and Franklin City and Greenbackville in Virginia. Girdletree, Stockton, and Franklin City were all on the now-defunct southern end of what is today the Maryland and Delaware Railroad that ran south from Snow Hill, Maryland. Overfishing depleted shellfish stocks, which have still not recovered.
Currently, the largest settlements on the Bay are Public Landing, Maryland, Greenbackville, Captain's Cove (a planned residential community near Greenbackville), and the town of Chincoteague.
The bay is an important stop on the Atlantic Flyway. The E.A. Vaughn Wildlife Management Area and parts of the Sinepuxent Bay Wildlife Management Area are located on the Maryland portion of the Bay, and the Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge form its eastern shore.Costen House
The Costen House is a historic U.S. home located at 206 Market Street, Pocomoke City, Maryland, United States. Dr. Isaac Costen built the house c. 1870s and members of his family lived there for over a century. Dr. Costen became the first Mayor of Pocomoke City. The house currently serves as The Isaac Costen House Museum.The Costen House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.Friendship, Worcester County, Maryland
Friendship is an unincorporated community in Worcester County, Maryland, United States. Friendship is located along U.S. Route 113 3.4 miles (5.5 km) north of Berlin.Isle of Wight Bay
Isle of Wight Bay is a lagoon that separates part of mainland Worcester County, Maryland from the midtown part of Ocean City, also in Worcester County. To the north, it connects to the Assawoman Bay just south of the Assawoman Bay Bridge, and to the south it connects to the Sinepuxent Bay at the north end of West Ocean City where the bay narrows between the Thoroughfare channel and Mallard Island. The major tributary of Isle of Wight Bay is the St. Martin's River; other tributaries include Turville Creek, Manklin Creek, and Herring Creek.Nassawango Creek
Nassawango Creek is a stream in the U.S. state of Maryland; it is the largest tributary of the Pocomoke River, located on the Delmarva Peninsula. Older variations on the same name include Nassanongo, Naseongo, Nassiongo, and Nassiungo, meaning "[ground] between [the streams]". Early English records have it as Askimenokonson Creek, after a Native settlement near its headwaters (askimenokonson roughly approximating a local Algonquian word meaning "stony place where they pick early [straw]berries").The Nassawango (locally or ) rises in Wicomico County, Maryland and flows 20.8 miles (33.5 km) through Worcester County to join the Pocomoke below Snow Hill. Large portions of its drainage lie within the Pocomoke River State Forest and The Nature Conservancy's Nassawango Creek Preserve. Nassawango Creek and its tributaries were once dammed in several places for mills; one dam site, became an early industrial blast furnace operation, where bog iron ore was smelted to make pig iron at Furnacetown during the first half of the 19th century. Today, the furnace grounds are considered a local historical landmark.National Register of Historic Places listings in Worcester County, Maryland
This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Worcester County, Maryland.
This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in Worcester County, Maryland, United States. Latitude and longitude coordinates are provided for many National Register properties and districts; these locations may be seen together in a map.There are 33 properties and districts listed on the National Register in the county.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted October 4, 2019.Newport Bay (Maryland)
Newport Bay is an arm of Chincoteague Bay between the mainland of Worcester County, Maryland and Sinepuxent Neck; its principal tributaries are Newport Creek and Trappe Creek.
The names Newport Bay and Newport Creek refer to a tract of land on the creek, "Newport Pagnell", patented in the late 17th century, which in turn commemorated the town of the same name in Buckinghamshire. Newport Bay has also been known as Mobjack Bay.Pocomoke River State Park
Pocomoke River State Park is a public recreation area lying on both banks of the Pocomoke River between Snow Hill and Pocomoke City in Worcester County, Maryland. The state park comprises two areas within Pocomoke State Forest: Shad Landing on the south bank of the river and Milburn Landing on the north bank.Pocomoke River Wildlife Management Area
Pocomoke River Wildlife Management Area is a state wildlife management area (WMA) of Maryland that lies on the south bank of the Pocomoke River in Worcester County. The Pocomoke River State Forest abuts the northern edge of the WMA.
The Pocomoke River WMA's 1,016-acre (4.11 km2) tract is a mixture of agricultural fields, woodlands, and wetlands located within the cypress swamp in south central Worcester County, north of Pocomoke City. The WMA contains stands of loblolly pine and bald cypress and a great variety of plant and local and migratory animal life, including white dogwood and pink laurel in the spring, white-tailed deer, and bald eagles. .
Hunting in season is permitted in the WMA, as are hiking, birding, and boating.Pocomoke Sound
Pocomoke Sound is a bay of the Chesapeake Bay that forms part of the boundary between the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia. The Pocomoke River is the largest stream feeding into the Sound, which is bounded by Somerset County, Maryland on the north, Worcester County, Maryland, Accomack County, Virginia, and Beasley Bay on the east, the Chesapeake Bay on the south, and Tangier Sound on the west. Its southwesternmost point may be considered to be Watts Island, Virginia.
In addition to the Pocomoke River, several creeks also flow into Pocomoke Sound: Ape Hole Creek, East Creek, and Marumsco Creek in Maryland, and Bullbegger Creek, Messongo Creek, and Guilford Creek in Virginia.
The Pocomoke Sound and Maryland Marine Properties Wildlife Management Areas lie on the north side of the Sound; the Saxis Wildlife Management Area on the east.Queponco station
Queponco is a historic United States railway station located at 8378 Patey Woods Road, Newark, Worcester County, Maryland. Constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Queponco railway station served Snow Hill, Berlin and Newark communities. The station closed in the 1960s.Queponco was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 as the Queponco railway station.Sandy Point Site
The Sandy Point Site, or Sandy Point Archeological Site, is an archaeological site near Ocean City in Worcester County, Maryland. It contains the southernmost component of the Townsend Series on the Delmarva Peninsula. It is also one of the few known Woodland period village sites in this area. These traits are shared by the nearby Buckingham Archeological Site.It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.Sinepuxent Bay
Sinepuxent Bay is an inland waterway which connects Chincoteague Bay to Isle of Wight Bay, and is connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Ocean City Inlet. It separates Sinepuxent Neck, in Worcester County, Maryland from Assateague Island, and West Ocean City, Maryland from downtown Ocean City. Islands in the Sinepuxent Bay include Horn Island and Skimmer Island. It is crossed by the Harry W. Kelley Memorial Bridge on U.S. Route 50 and the Verrazano Bridge on Maryland Route 611 (not to be confused with the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City; both were named for Giovanni da Verrazzano, who explored the coastline in 1524). The bay is the location of the islands that compose the Sinepuxent Bay Wildlife Management Area. Historically the area was referred to by various names including Sinepuxent, Sene Puxon, Synepuxent, Cinnepuxon, et al.
Sinepuxent Inlet, a navigable waterway through the barrier island during the colonial era, was located just south of the Assateague Island National Seashore day-use area. In September 1698 French pirate Canoot seized a Philadelphia-based sloop "as he was coming out of Cinnepuxon Inlet." The Inlet was closed in a hurricane in 1818, and was filled in by sand in 1860. Sinepuxent was a once-thriving community on the mainland about a half mile north of the Verrazano Bridge, also destroyed in the same hurricane.
The current inlet, known as Ocean City Inlet, was cut by the great 1933 Chesapeake–Potomac hurricane, also known as Hurricane Six of 1933. The new inlet was stabilized by rock jetties constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, with work commencing in October 1933. Because of the changes that the creation of the Ocean City Inlet made to tidal flows in the bays, the United States Army Corps of Engineers now internally defines the Isle of Wight Bay as extending south to the inlet, and Sinepuxent Bay extending south from the inlet to Chincoteague Bay, despite historical naming conventions.St. Martin's Episcopal Church (Showell, Maryland)
St. Martin's Episcopal Church is a historic Episcopal church located on Route 113 at the intersection with Route 589 in Showell, Worcester County, Maryland. Much of the original Flemish bond brick structure is retained. Built as the first parish church of Worcester Parish, which had been established in 1753, it was started in 1756 and completed in 1759. Attendance dwindled after St. Paul's Episcopal Church was established in nearby Berlin in 1824, and by the end of the century the facility was used only sporadically.By the 1970s the facility was in serious disrepair. The St. Martins's Church Foundation was established in 1993 to organize its restoration, and now operates the building as St. Martin's Episcopal Church Museum. The museum accurately preserves the original interior.It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.St. Martin River
The St. Martin River is a tributary of Isle of Wight Bay in Worcester County, Maryland. Approximately 4.4 miles (7.1 km) long, it drains the northernmost part of Worcester County.
A short river, the St. Martin broadens rapidly to enter Isle of Wight Bay where the bay is crossed by Maryland Route 90. Most of the river is a tidal estuary. Its two main tributaries are the Bishopville Prong and the Shingle Landing Prong.
The St. Martin forms the northern boundary of Ocean Pines, Maryland; Bishopville, Maryland is on the Bishopville Prong of the river.
Places adjacent to Worcester County, Maryland
Municipalities and communities of Worcester County, Maryland, United States
‡This populated place also has portions in an adjacent county or counties
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