Federalsburg Historical Society

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"Preserving the Past for Those of the Future" 
 A History of Federalsburg

The time is 1850. The modest village of Federalsburg has few inhabitants and buildings were few and far between. The town had been growing during the past sixty years, since its beginning as a community
     There were two principal highways – Main and Bridge (East Central Ave.) streets. Main Street ran from Elliott’s Mill (last known as Idlewild Mill, located directly across from Exeter on what is now Old Denton Road) to the residence of the late Captain Moses Neal, a distance of one mile (now at the Railroad track on South Main Street). Bridge Street ran from Main Street over the bridge to the Friends Meeting House, one-half mile east (beside Maryland Plastics.) This meeting house was moved to the west side of town prior to the civil war and is situated beside greenhouses on the Preston Road.



​     Federalsburg was the business center of a large section of country and there were no surrounding villages to contest for its trade. There were a few general stores; village hotel; miller; smith and carriage shop, carpenters, cabinet maker and builder; boot and shoe maker; tailor; and other businessmen. There was an old school house and a doctor’s office. A large portion of the riverbank on the west side of the Marshy Hope Creek, from the bridge to the railroad track, was filled with cord-wood, lumber, ship-timber, tanbark, railroad ties and more.
     For nearly every year, a vessel was built at this location. The 1904 Federalsburg Souvenir Book stated “The upper yard was a fine site for this industry and many a trim built Clipper went from its ways to plow the Chesapeake, and bring handsome returns to their enterprising builders. A number of these vessels traded to different cities, and as there were no steamboats or railroads to move their produce, a Schooner’s cargo was as varied as the contents of a variety store – eggs, poultry, sheep, cattle, hides, wheat, corn, dried fruit, lumber, timber, bark, and passengers could all be found on the same boat. Merchants, with shot bags of cash, traveled by this method, and at least twice a year went to the city to “lay in” stock – it came by the vessel load, coffee in bags, sugar and molasses in hogsheads, everything in bulk – there was no package business done.”

     Fast forward to the early 1900’s. The streets are filled with traffic and the laborers are hurrying to build new buildings and residences; carpenters and bricklayers are in demand. Hard shelled roads lead into town, mills are active and an “air of industry has settled over Federalsburg.”
     Due to the mild climate, the Eastern Shore of Maryland had become a natural for growing produce for trade to larger cities. Farmers found that larger farms and large fields planted in the staple crops were not as profitable as smaller farms and fields growing produce which found a ready sale as soon as shipped. Vegetables, berries and other fruits began to be raised and tomatoes grew plentifully and were peculiarly adapted to our soil and climate. It was found that they could be canned here just as well as anywhere else and the great canning industry sprang up. Tomatoes, corn and other vegetables could be grown at the cannery doors.
     Along with farming and canning and milling, a tin can factory was built alongside a mill, lumber yards became engaged in building crates, baskets and other materials which were used to ship the goods; and the railroad and steamer trade grew with the distribution of these goods. Later, the trucking industry increasingly played an important role in product transportation. Along with this success, many other businesses grew and supported this booming industry.
Service Trucking and Caroline Poultry were large thriving businesses up into the 1960’s, but when they both closed down, an effort was made to develop several industrial parks which helped provide work for local residents who had lost jobs.


     Trucking is still a vital industry locally with H&M Bay, CW Transport and WIN Transport to name a few, and Dart (formerly Solo Cup Company), M&M Refrigeration, Tri-Gas and Oil, Bee’s Energy Express, Sisk Fulfillment, Burris Retail Logistics, and many other industries. Also present are a Food Lion, McDonald’s and other restaurants, county library, post office, police station, fire company, schools, senior center, two funeral homes and two cemeteries, drug store, hair salons, floral shops, convenience stores, dollar stores, auto parts stores and vehicle service centers, and so much more. Last, but not least, is a developing Museum displaying many aspects of the history of Federalsburg.
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