Vesper Shipwreck

The wreck of the steamer freighter Vesper may be located on the east side of the Choptank River just below Denton. This vessel was 145.6 foot long, built in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1871 and sank about 1930. The captain was R. Jones from at least 1915 to 1917. From about 1917 until 1930 Vesper was owned by the Wilmington Steamship Company. Vesper apparently operated out of Baltimore its entire career. When owned by Lawrence Towers, who operated a cannery in West Denton, it may have been informally known as the “Fire Ox” or “Hot Ox”.

The Denton Journal announced that the Vesper would begin service on the Choptank during the first week of March 1902. Advertisements for passengers and freight appeared at least during 1908-1910.

During at least November 1908 through July 1910, the advertised schedule for the Vesper offered weekly trips from Baltimore to wharves along the Choptank. It departed Baltimore from the foot of Hughes Ave. every Thursday at 6 p.m. for the run all the way to Greensboro. Vesper departed Greensboro Saturdays at noon for Denton, then departed Denton Mondays at 11 a.m. for the trip downriver and return to Baltimore.

Vesper stopped for both freight and passengers at these Choptank River wharves:

Clark’s
Choptank
Kingston
Turkey Creek
Gilpin’s Point
Todd’s
Downe’s
Towers’
Williston
Lyford
Denton
Passapae
Greensboro

At that time, Vesper was operated by the “B., E.S. Transportation Co.” (presumably “Baltimore and Eastern Shore”). L.B. Towers was the company’s president; C.D. Bennett was general manager.

The freight charge for transporting wheat on Vesper from the Choptank to Baltimore was 4 cents per bushel. The company offered free grain sacks to customers at Greensboro, Denton, Lyford, Towers, and Downs wharves in 1910, and possibly at all wharved it serviced during earlier years.

A photo in a private collection shows Vesper sunk ca 1880 opposite Case’s Wharf, with steamers Greensboro and Edenton in foreground. (OHTMC)

(Choptank River Cultural Resources Inventory, 1999-2002)

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On Maryland's Eastern Shore