Did you know Charles County had two main oyster industry areas?
Benedict on the Patuxent River and Rock Point at the confluence of the Wicomico and Potomac Rivers.
Benedict was home to several oyster shucking houses along the waterfront. Although no longer active, three of those buildings survive to this day. Located at the end of Wharf Lane, the Patuxent Oyster Company (1935-1969) was the largest in Benedict and in its heyday it employed 35 shuckers. Shorter’s Place along Benedict Avenue operated from the 1950s to early 1970s, and processed about 300-400 bushels per week. Its unique gallon oyster can design depicted the boat Melissa Ann, named after the daughter of Mr. Shorter. (Blue building along waterfront) Messick’s Place is a former shucking house and restaurant at the end of Benedict Avenue. (white concrete block building next to dock)
The Benedict Estuarine Laboratory was founded by the Academy of Sciences in 1967 and operated in Benedict for a quarter century. They operated out of two buildings: Shorter’s Place and the concrete block and brick building across the street. Here, scientists collected decades of data on crab and oyster populations. This research has directly supported policies to protect commercial oyster and crab industries and to develop sustainable aquaculture programs in the State. In 1994, the program moved downriver to St. Leonard later becoming the Morgan State University Estuarine Research Center.
The Rock Point/Cobb Island oyster industry began as early as 1883 and supported several businesses over time. Although no longer standing today, one of the largest and longest running in Southern Maryland was Hill & Lloyd’s (1917-1958). Here they shipped over 1000 gallons of shucked oysters a week during each season for twenty-five years. Shymansky’s store and restaurant on Neale Sound was previously Smitty’s Long Point Restaurant with a small oyster shucking house located on the property. Captain Robert Shymansky operated a 50ft buyboat from here and also trucked oysters to Virginia shucking houses.
Article courtesy of Cathy Thompson, Senior Preservation Planner – Charles County