WPA Today   

Waterways



WPA Poster

Waterways
(See Photos Below!)

     Some of the less familiar work of the WPA occurred on our nation's waterways, showing once again how varied WPA projects were. 

     One very large WPA project was the Sinepuxent Channel at Ocean City (see second picture below), which connects Sinepuxent Bay to the Atlantic Ocean.  It is more commonly known to Marylanders as the Ocean City Inlet, and runs between Ocean City and Assateague Island.  Apparently, the Ocean City Inlet started its life when "the great storm of August 1933" caused enough shoreline damage to connect Sinepuxent Bay to the Atlantic.  The WPA helped finished the job--which included widening, dredging, and stone sidewalls--giving Maryland its first ocean seaport.  ("Final Seaport Work To Begin At Ocean City," Baltimore Sun, May 24, 1936, p. 3) 

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Photo credits: Unless otherwise noted, all black and white photos were taken by the WPA, are in the public domain, and provided courtesy of the University of Maryland College Park Archives.  All color photos--unless otherwise noted--were taken by Brent McKee.  Click here for more information on photo credits, permission to use, and exhibit descriptions.


Above: The Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, at Chesapeake City, Maryland.  On October 16, 1935, it was reported that 1,226 WPA laborers from Baltimore had been recruited to work on the C & D Canal ("1,226 Men To Leave For Canal Project," Baltimore Sun, p. 8).  The WPA men helped widen the C & D Canal; and this widening assisted private business by allowing a greater quantity of goods to pass through the canal, and aided in our nation's defense by allowing ships to spend less time in the Atlantic during World War II, when German submarines were on the prowl for shipping targets ("The National Waterway: A History of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, 1769-1965," by Ralph D. Gray. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1967, pp. 250-252).  (Photographed 2011)   


Above: The Ocean City Inlet, started by storm damage and completed with the assistance of WPA labor (see narrative at top of page).  (Photographed 2011)


Above: Painting the municipal ice-breaker "F.C. Latrobe."  This ship was named after Ferdinand Claiborne Latrobe (1833-1911), a mayor of Baltimore in the 1800s (Maryland WPA project # and date unknown).


Above: These WPA laborers appear to be repairing and/or fortifying the hull of the "F.C. Latrobe" (Maryland WPA project # and date unknown).


Above: The WPA renovating the municipal ferry "Howard W. Jackson."  This ship was named after Howard W. Jackson (1877-1960) who was mayor of Baltimore from 1923-1927 and 1931-1943 (Maryland WPA project # and date unknown).  For an interesting article about this ship, see here.


Above: Constructing a yacht basin at a city park in Havre de Grace, Harford County.  Yacht basins are enclosed areas of water, designed to be unaffected by tidal changes to the water level, and thus provide safe anchorage to larger boats (Maryland WPA project #3124, June 1937).


Above: This WPA project is a "gaging station," for use by the United States Geological Survey.  Gaging stations can measure things such as water temperature, water chemistry, and water levels.  This gaging station is in the town of Franklin, Allegany County (Maryland WPA project #3174, October 1937).


Above: Constructing Pier 8 in Baltimore City (Maryland WPA project #18, May 1936).


Above: Constructing a wharf and breakwater at Bivalve, Wicomico County.  A wharf is a pier that boats can tie up to, and a breakwater is a structure that protects an area from heavy waves (Maryland WPA project #619, May 1937).


Above: WPA workers clearing and straightening Marshy Hope Creek in Federalsburg, Caroline County (Maryland WPA project #465, October 1936).


Above: A public pier built by the WPA in Havre de Grace, Harford County (Maryland WPA project #521, July 1936).


Above: Clearing debris from the Pocomoke River, near Powellville, Wicomico County (Maryland WPA project #37, November 1935).
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