Fate of the Choptank River Steamboats Joppa and Avalon

Baltimore to Denton by Steamboat

Joppa and Avalon were the two most notable steamboats that ran between Baltimore and Denton on the Choptank River from the 1880s until 1921.  What happened to them after they disappeared from the Choptank?

Steamboat Joppa at West Denton wharf on Choptank River, early 1900s.

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Socialist radicals on the Choptank

The Single-Tax Colony at Gilpin Point

Gilpin Point on the Choptank River was once the site of a colony of radical economic reformers. The small colony of “Georgists” advocated the economic philosophy of Henry George.  They held property in common at Gilpin Point, called for a single-land-tax economy, and hoped to create a model utopian community on the Choptank River.

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How the Wheeler Line served the people on the Choptank and Tuckahoe Rivers

The Wheeler Crowd

J.S. Dodds tells how Minne Wheeler symbolized the ”hometown” atmosphere and service that Wheeler offered his clients along the Tuckahoe:

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Captains of the Wheeler Steamboat Line

Charles W. Wright was master of the Ruggles, Minnie Wheeler, and Chesapeake. He resigned from Wheeler employ in 1887 to accept the post of captain of the new steamer Choptank, of the Choptank Steamboat Company. Two years later, he joined the United States Steamboat Service and became an inspector in Baltimore.

Captain William Henry Harrison Perry joined the Wheeler line in 1881 and remained in Wheeler’s service until the latter’s death in 1899. Perry commanded the Easton from the time she was commissioned in 1896 until she was sold to the B. C. and A. Railway Company. He left the Wheeler line to continue at the helm of Easton.

Read more about C.C. Wheeler steamboats on the Choptank and Tuckahoe.


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C.C. Wheeler’s Steamboats on the Choptank and Tuckahoe

Caleb Clark Wheeler of Gilpin Point

Caleb Clark Wheeler was born in 1839 at Gilpin Point in Caroline County. At age 12 he began work as a cook on a sailing schooner that shipped goods and passengers between the Choptank and Baltimore. By age 18, he was a schooner captain, and at 21, he was part owner of the schooner John Nichols.

Wheeler could not read or write, but he had sharp business acumen. He opened a general store at Gilpin Point in 1862, at age 22, and served as middleman between Choptank River farmers and Baltimore merchants.  Wheeler moved his business from Gilpin Point to Hillsboro in about 1870.

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Check in @1875

The 1875 and 1897 maps of Caroline County show where hotels, stores and shops, churches, fairgrounds, and many other kinds of places were located over 100 years ago.

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A Veteran’s Day salute to Cpl Wm. H. Carney, 38th US Colored Troops

Grave marker at Union Church

Union Church is located a few miles northwest of Greensboro, MD.   A grave marker still stands a few yards from the church door.  The name on the stone is faded but still legible:

Wm. H. Carney
Co I
38 U.S.  C.I.

No date of birth or death is shown.

2015-05-25 memorial day (1)

Corporal William H. Carney, Company I, US Colored Infantry

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Your local blacksmith: Not on Angie’s List

Robert Jacobs, Blacksmith, Ridgely, Maryland
Robert Jacobs, Blacksmith, Ridgely, Maryland.  In 2014, Age 13.

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River Heritage in TweetView

Mapper Eric Fischer has created the most detailed tweet map ever.  Six billion tweets over 3.5 years – worldwide:

tweets earth

What does the map look like closer to home?   Zoom in here and look around:

Zoomed out, it looks like a population density map.  Like a census map but with a bias toward showing population segments more likely to be engaged with social media:

tweets delmarva

Zooming in, we see other patterns and try to understand their meaning.  Near Denton, the local hotspots for tweeters are North Caroline High School (upper left) and McDonald’s near MD 404 (lower right).  The NCHS hotspot is easy to interprist:  a  population more likely to be active in social media:

tweets NCHS & McD

But why are tweets coming from farm fields?   Tractor and harvester operators are tweeting while they plow furrows or harvest soybeans?

tweets in farm fields

And why are all these tweets coming from the middle of the Choptank River and from the marshes north of Denton and the MD 404 bridge?   Waterfowl hunters?  Seems unlikely.  Bad geolocations in the Twitter data are always possible.  But why scattered here?

tweets in choptank

And, of course, you have to wonder about all those tweets along Routes 404 and 50.  Those just passengers tweeting, right?  Can’t be drivers !

tweets 404
Got ideas?  Write to me:  cartographer @



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Skipjack, fertilizer sack, mule, boy. Repeat.

As many as four or five two- and three-mast sailing vessels at a time were often tied up at the Denton wharves.  I often had the job of leading the mule forward to lift the bag out of the vessel’s hold, and backing him up again to drop the bag onto the wharf and to lower the tongs back into the hold for another bag. You get the picture – the mule and the boy – back and forth all day until the last bag was out of the hold.

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On Maryland's Eastern Shore