Preservation Month: Maryland’s Strawberry Legacy

05/20/2016
By Preservation Maryland

Today is Day 20 of National Historic Preservation Month and also National Pick Strawberries Day. Maryland’s history of strawberry picking takes us to Marion Station in Somerset County, Maryland which was once locally considered to be the Strawberry Capital of the World!

stawberriesThis photograph titled “Strawberry Picking,” captures acres of strawberries in Marion Station taken by famed local photographer A. Aubrey Bodine on June 7th, 1953 during the height of Somerset County’s strawberry harvesting dominance.

Marion Station’s reputation as leader in strawberry production came with the arrival of a line of the Pennsylvania Railroad to the Eastern Shore in 1866.  The town was able to construct a train station due to benefactor John C. Horsey, in turn the station and the town was named for his daughter, Marion. Several hundred ice-refrigeration train cars arrived to Marion Station each day to collect strawberries and ship them across the country. An auction block stood outside the station and berry-wagons would line up for miles to deliver their fruit.

The ease of shipping strawberries via railroad made Marion Station famous as the largest shipper of strawberries in the entire world. The economic boom that came with harvesting and selling strawberries created a viable town in Marion Station and even enable the town to build the first hospital in Somerset County. By the 1930’s a series of events led to the decline of strawberry production; the land had been “strawberried” to death. Train service lessened as well, and completely stopped in 1976. Strawberry farmers were no longer able to sustain a living through strawberries and much of the farming transitioned to raising poultry. The Marion Station train station still stands today and once housed the Accohannock Indian Museum.

CELEBRATE MARYLAND’S STRAWBERRY HERITAGE

Maryland offers many strawberry festivals and pick-your-own fruit orchards throughout the summer. What’s your favorite u-pick farm in Maryland?

 

Our Preservation Month posts were written and prepared by Rachel Rettaliata, one of Preservation Maryland’s Waxter Interns. Rachel’s work with us focuses on communications and advocacy. She is a Fulbright Scholar, and will be attending the historic preservation program at the University of Maryland this fall. Learn more about Rachel and our intern program here: presmd.org/waxter.

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