In the late 1890's, Otto Mears envisioned a Chesapeake Bay waterfront resort with railroad service direct from Washington and Baltimore. Mears and a group of Denver business associates designed an elaborate resort town complete with hotels, bathhouses and beaches, casinos, a race track, and a 1600-foot boardwalk. The boardwalk extended over the water and featured a band shell, a carousel, a dance pavilion, a roller coaster, and a variety of entertainment booths. Passenger steamers arrived daily from Baltimore during the summer months and tied up at the end of a mile-long pier.
The first train arrived in Chesapeake Beach on June 9, 1900, filled with passengers and freight. For a few glorious years, the one-hour “Honeysuckle Route” carried holiday travelers through the rural Southern Maryland countryside to the fanciest resort on the Western Shore. The resort fulfilled Otto Mears' dream, but after 35 years financial hardship brought on by the Great Depression and the growing popularity of the automobile spelled the end of the railroad. On April 15, 1935 the last train left the station.
Today, thanks to the work of local preservationists, volunteers, and the support of the Calvert County Commissioners, the old railway station is back in business. Turned into a museum in 1979, the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum preserves the history of the bayside resort through audio-visual presentations, artifacts, photographs, and exhibits portraying resort life during its heyday.
The Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is included in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (CT-100). Erected in 1898 for the Washington and Chesapeake Railway Company, the station at Chesapeake Beach derives significance from its association with the transportation and related commercial history of Calvert County and as an excellent example of rural railroad architecture. Otto Mears' Washington and Chesapeake Railway Company ran from the fall of 1898 until the spring of 1935. The station was likely the work of a Mr. Winston, who was the contractor and builder for most of the houses and structures in the original town and park.
The exhibits in the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum depict the thriving history and life of the railway and amusement park. The museum offers a wide variety of objects and artifacts, both original and best representations of the era. The museum brings the railway and amusement park to life with pictorial displays, postcards, oral histories and memorabilia. Our exhibits range from railroading lanterns to a Dentzel carousel kangaroo from the park as well as authentic period bathing suits. Visitors may also enjoy our diorama showing the train depot and boardwalk as it appeared in the early 1900's. In addition, the museum offers a DVD presentation of the history of the Chesapeake Beach Railway which includes oral histories of the amusement park that was part of the resort area. The Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum is home to the last known railcar, The Dolores, which is located behind the museum.
In the late 1890's, Otto Mears--an independent, short-line railroad builder from Colorado--and a group of Denver associates designed Chesapeake Beach as a resort town complete…
The Dolores See "The Dolores" parlor car, which brought passengers from Washington, D.C. to Chesapeake Beach; the only remaining rolling stock left from the Chesapeake…
Slices of life c. 1900-1950s…that is what this exhibit captured. The majority of the objects in this exhibit were collected in Chesapeake Beach, MD. The…
The many lives of Chesapeake Beach, originated from the idea that Chesapeake Beach was a wonderful destination, and loaded with potential. The Chesapeake Beach Railway…
At the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum...
A Few of Our Treasures
What our Visitors say
I can’t recommend this museum highly enough! It is packed full of artifacts, photos & fascinating information! I send all our guests to visit The Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum. If you’re visiting Calvert County, it is not to be missed!Open Gates Farm
Very interesting museum. Staff was very informative about history and willing to share information. A lot of original things from the past.sestravel
This sweet little museum has incredible pictures and artifacts from the days when Chesapeake Beach was a destination via the train from D.C. My daughter visited and was touched by how kind the person working the museum was to her. You will find many facts and tidbits of days gone by. We wish that the roller coaster was still around today!Melaney68
The original train station is situated exactly where is was! From a by gone time when people traveled to the coast for family fun and get aways! The museum tells the story of the old amusement park that used to be and photos of the area the way it used to be. Lots of interesting artifacts and bathing suits from the past. The staff is energetic and passionate in their tour of the station. Located right at the resort, it is something to see!Brenda S.