Chestertown’s waterfront just got a lot more interesting, thanks to a new outdoor exhibit created by Echo Hill Outdoor School. Along the dock near the Outdoor School’s floating fleet, a new series of signs, interactive stations and displays tell the story of the Chesapeake’s working waterfronts, vessels, maritime communities and culture.
The exhibit, developed in partnership with Locust Grove Studios, uses the School’s historic vessels to explore the ways the Chesapeake historic environment shaped the region’s people and places. Eight signs in total tell the stories of skipjack Elsworth, bateau Ric and buyboat Annie D, and detail bygone Black maritime communities like Chestertown’s Scott’s Point. Other signs share the biographies of boatbuilder Stanley Vansant and writer Gilbert Byron, and discuss the history of oystering, steamboats, and more. An introductory panel provides an overview of the School’s mission and history. Additional “fun facts” provide extra information, and several of the signs are capped with boat silhouettes that provide visitors with a full side view of the historic vessels.
In addition to the exhibit panels, dockside visitors can test their skills of knot tying on an interactive rope display, and an oyster dredge, winch, crane and oyster bushel display suggests the oystering heyday of Elsworth and Annie D.
To ensure maximum accessibility for exhibit visitors, Echo Hill Outdoor School also upgraded the decking on the piers and finger piers where the exhibit is installed. Completed during the first summer of the pandemic when Echo Hill Outdoor School was closed, the work was finished by Outdoor School staff on a volunteer basis.
Currently, the exhibit is fully open to the public, and Chestertown visitors are encouraged to stop by and take in the panels, history, and stories of the Chesapeake’s past. And new panels will soon join the waterfront signage. Associate Director Andrew McCown, who spearheaded the project, is currently working on additional panels for the exhibit that explore the Chester River’s steamboat history and the future of the Chesapeake environment.
For Executive Director Peter Rice, this exhibit is a natural extension of the School’s environmental programs. “Echo Hill Outdoor School’s historic floating fleet serve as our environmental classrooms and provide a way for our participants to connect to the Bay’s unique history and culture. These new signs let us share the ways the Chesapeake environment has shaped lives for generations with the greater community, right in downtown Chestertown.”
Echo Hill Outdoor School was established in 1972 in Kent County, Maryland to provide outdoor education programs to students and teachers from throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Specializing in immersive, experiential programs, Echo Hill Outdoor School’s classes can be customized to the needs of different school groups. For more information, or to arrange a program, visit ehos.org or call 410-348-5880.