Old-Fashioned Legwork: Documenting Working Waterfronts in VA, MD

Photos taken throughout coastal Virginia and Maryland document working waterfront infrastructure, such as this at Menchville Wharf. ©VASG
Documenting the docks, facilities, and ramps that are available for watermen and coastal businesses in VA and MD requires perseverance and persistence—and a car.

By Janet Krenn

In partnership with the Maryland Coastal Zone Program and Maryland Sea Grant, Virginia Sea Grant conducted a working waterfronts inventory for Maryland in parallel with Virginia’s inventory

Project leader Tom Murray enlisted Don McCann of Tranquil Waters Marine Services to document working waterfronts infrastructure in Maryland.

When McCann describes the process, it becomes clear that identifying working waterfronts requires perseverance and persistence—and a car.

“I visited a boat builder in Denton, and he told me to talk to so-and-so farther down the way. So I go there next. On many occasions you don’t find the person you’re looking for right away, and you just keep going ahead until you come across someone to help,” says McCann. “Those individuals who are deeply involved in the local area, they provided us with many sites that we might have missed.”

With a list of sites in hand, McCann visited and documented each one, taking coordinates and photographs as well as inspecting the location for electricity, pump-out, sewer access, water access, dockage, and other services important to working waterfronts.

“It’s not rocket science,” says McCann. Still, he’s optimistic old-fashioned legwork will produce useful information to help the state of Maryland decide where to focus its efforts to preserve and improve commercial waterfront access.



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