Day after day we drive these streets, give directions, home addresses, note landmarks, and so on and so on…often without a thought as to what’s in a name?
Well fasten your seat belts! We are going for a speedy drive around Chesapeake Beach and I am going to share some of the backstories behind the names in case you don’t know! Quick reminder, the town of Chesapeake Beach was built as a destination resort and The Chesapeake Beach Railway (CBRy) was built to serve it, with the official grand opening of the resort on June 9, 1900.
*Spoiler alert, many of the names around town have to do with the railway, the founders, and the destination point (aka the amusement park).
Feel free to skip and scroll through to see if your street is named here!
Here we go!
The BAYVIEW HILLS neighborhood was started in the late 1990s and is riddled with railway founders’ names and connections!
- Rector Lookout:
- Named after John Mayo Rector who deserved an UNSUNG HERO AWARD for his work on the Chesapeake Beach Railway. Not only did he work for the CBRy from very early on, but when the railway was failing and heading into bankruptcy in 1934, he came up with a plan to keep the amusement park in the beach operating and the last 3 miles of the railway running at the DC line. This new railway venture was called the East Washington Railway and operated until 1979.
- Moffat Run:
- Named after David Halliday Moffat, who also deserved an UNSUNG HERO AWARD as far as the railway was concerned. Moffat was one of the original founders of the railway. He was a wealthy businessman who was a huge financial backer for the construction of the railroad and resort. While many of the original founders resigned in 1902 (just two years after its opening!) Moffat stayed on and propped up the company in hopes of recouping his investments. He became the owner of both the railway and the resort. He died suddenly in 1911, but the trustees of his estate continued to oversee operations until the railway stopped running in 1935.
- To learn more about this unsung hero click here: David Halliday Moffat – Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum
- Mears Bend:
- Named for Otto Mears, who was the first President of the CBRy. He gathered partners and financial backers to organize The Chesapeake Beach Railway and the Chesapeake Beach Resort. He oversaw the construction, contracts, publicity, etc. His tale was a true rags to riches story. His was born in Russia in 1840. He was orphaned at a young age & sent to San Francisco, CA to a family member. When the family member could not be found, he was put into a boarding house where he sold newspapers to make money. Out of necessity and determination, his path fell into building railroads. One famous railroad was the Silverton Railway… which leads me to Silverton Court/Lane.
- To learn more about this fascinating man click here: Otto Mears – Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum
- Silverton Court/Lane:
- The Silverton Railway was one of Otto Mears first railroad projects (see Mears Bend above!). It was a narrow-gauge railroad between Silverton, CO and mining districts near Red Mountain Pass, CO, and went through some rough terrain. Fun fact: Otto Mears was known for the unusual and expensive annual passes he presented.
- Delores Court :
- MISSPELLED on the street sign but named for the Dolores Parlor Car that used to carry excursionists from Washington, D.C. to Chesapeake Beach! It was one of 32 passenger cars that Otto Mears ordered in 1898 from the St. Charles Car Co., in St. Charles, Missouri. Otto Mears often named passenger cars/parlor cars that operated on the CBRy after beloved locations out west. (extra tidbit: there was a Silverton Parlor car as well on the CBRy)
- The Dolores Parlor car is the last known remaining rolling stock of the CBRy and today lives behind the museum. It has been dedicated as the “The Loveless and Finlon Education Center” in honor of Bernie & Dorothy Loveless and Mildred Finlon for their dedication to the museum and the Chesapeake Beach story.
- Fortier Lookout:
- Named after William L. “Buster” Fortier, who was mayor of Chesapeake Beach from 1964-1974. As a young man he sold ice cream and popcorn on the train, and newspapers on the Chesapeake Beach boardwalk.
- Hart Lane:
- Named for Richard H. Hart, Auditor for the CBRy
- MYSTERY STREET NAMES in Bayview Hills: Ina Chase & Smiths Retreat
- one possibility for Smiths Retreat is Captain John Smith who explored and documented Fishing Creek. If anyone out there knows who or has any other ideas of what these street names refer to, please share your information. Inquiring minds want to know!
Onto the neighborhood of CHESAPEAKE STATION!
This neighborhood was built in the early 1980s where the amusements on land were built and is filled with names from days gone by. (Fun fact: the names of the house models for this neighborhood were named after places out west: Ouray, Durango & Silverton).
- Arcade Court:
- Named for the Penny Arcade in Chesapeake Beach Park!
- Carousel Way:
- Named for the carousels that lived here in the beach! The first carousel was located on a boardwalk over the water (1900-1926 when it mysteriously burned down Halloween night!), and the second was built on land (1930-1970s) when it was purchased and moved to Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro MD, AND where you can STILL ride it today!
- Band Shell Court:
- Named for the wonderful band shell that was erected on the Chesapeake Beach Boardwalk from 1900 to approximately 1929). The Band Shell was for music and all kinds of acts and performances!
- Dentzel Court:
- Named for Gustav A. Dentzel, the famous carousel builder. In 1899 Otto Mears, President of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Co., signed a contract with Gustav A. Dentzel to operate a carousel in the resort (which was built over the water!).
- to learn more about the carousel life here in the beach, click here: Carousel – Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum
From here I’ll jump around town a bit…
- Mears Avenue:
- obviously, Otto Mears! See above Mears Bend for that text
- Interesting tidbit: Mears Avenue used to be across from Beach Elementary School (in between the school and the Bay). Moved at some point, to be looked further into!
- Wesley Stinnett Blvd:
- Named for Wesley Stinnett, a prominent businessman and community member of Chesapeake Beach. He was mayor of Chesapeake Beach from 1954-1962; He worked on the Chesapeake Beach Railway for a time; he entered the construction business and was an active home builder in Chesapeake Beach; and so on! He was very involved in the town of Chesapeake Beach!
- Elizabeth Court:
- Off of Wesley Stinnett Blvd, named for Wesley Stinnett’s wife Elizabeth. Wesley and Elizabeth Stinnett opened Stinnett’s Restaurant in 1936, a well-loved & remembered restaurant of the beach for decades!
- Mary Lou Lane:
- Off of Wesley Stinnett Blvd, is a blended name for two of Wesley & Elizabeth Stinnett’s daughters (Mary & Ethel Lou).
- Daphne Court:
- Off of Wesley Stinnett Blvd, named for Wesley & Elizabeth Stinnett’s daughter, Daphne.
- Gordon Stinnett Ave:
- Named, yes, you guessed it, Gordon Stinnett! He was also a child of Wesley & Elizabeth Stinnett. He ran the Rod ‘n’ Reel Restaurant for a bit. And later he and his wife Terry ran Stinnett’s Restaurant!
While I’m at it: I’ll add in a few landmarks around town:
- Bayfront Park (aka Brownie’s Beach):
- Previously named for a brother and sister: Wilbur Brown & Edna Mae Clum. The backstory is that there was a hotel named The Marinelli/Water Edge Hotel that was located on the edge of Bayfront Park. From approximately 1942-1952 it was run by Wilbur Brown and his sister Edna Mae Clum, until it burned down (in 1952). In the mid-1950s they converted a cottage on the beach, owned by the Browns, into a small bar/hamburger stand… AND that seems to be why locals know the beach as “Brownie’s Beach”
- For a deeper dive into Bayfront Park’s history, click here to read Nancy Haley’s article in the museum’s Spring 2007 newsletter! May_07_newsletter.pdf (chesapeakebeachrailwaymuseum.com)
- Kellam’s Field: (located: 3825 Gordon Stinnett Ave., Chesapeake Beach, MD)
- Named for “Buddy” Kellam; and officially titled: “The Lynwood T. Kellam Memorial Recreational Park.” Kellam was a local businessman, boatman and former owner of the property currently known as Kellam’s Field.
It seems appropriate to end this article with Rt. 260/Chesapeake Beach Road/ “The Tracks”
- Unofficially known as “the tracks” by locals. There is a portion of Rt. 260 that is straight as a pin, while the rest of Rt. 260 turns here and there. That straight portion (shown below) is where the train used to run. The next time you are driving on that straightaway…rolldown your windows, and imagine the train chugging down the tracks, with dust and cinders blowing through the open windows… knowing the beach is just a short bit away!
As I wrap up this article… it is worth noting that some street names have been changed, some have been moved, some have even fallen into the bay! THAT is a whole other story and research project!
But until then, it’s fun to think about what’s in a name!