Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area
At the heart of the Eastern Shore culture and landscape, the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area in Dorchester County offers unsurpassed opportunities to experience a most beautiful and unique part of Maryland and the nation. With its pristine rivers and marshlands, working boats and waterfronts, and quaint towns and villages among productive agricultural fields, Dorchester is an archetype of the Eastern Shore landscape and way of life.
Dorchester has been a major destination for naturalists and sporting enthusiasts for many years. However, many more opportunities exist to introduce visitors to the traditions and heritage of this region. The waterfront in Cambridge, Vienna and Secretary, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad byway, the General and Country Stores and the many heritage museums offer glimpses into the rich cultural diversity that the area's residents enjoy.
The goal of the heritage area is to strengthen the local economy and provide benefits to the community by protecting and conserving cultural, historic, and natural resources that are unique to the Eastern Shore and to Maryland. A balance between promotion and protection will be sought to ensure that future generations can enjoy and understand our collective heritage.
The Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area resides entirely within Dorchester County. The boundary follows along the watery edges that define three sides of Dorchester County. Beginning in Vienna and heading northwest, the boundary runs just north of Route 50. At Linkwood, it turns north to East New Market along the eastern side of the Maryland and Delaware Railroad line. At East New Market, it extends west towards Secretary along the northern edge of Route 14. The boundary then extends along the Dorchester County line in the Choptank River winding its way to the Chesapeake Bay. At the Bay, it turns southeast following the County line to the mouth of the Nanticoke River where it heads upstream along the eastern boundary of the County to close the loop in Vienna. The town of Hurlock, located to the north of East New Market, is included as a non-contiguous portion of the heritage area. There is also a non contiguous two acre parcel located just outside of the town of Vienna on Indiantown Road.
Heritage Area Themes
The Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area has an excellent opportunity to capitalize on its unique history, culture and natural resources. Today, the richness of the past is preserved in its quaint towns and villages, its working waterways and agricultural lands, and through its museums and wildlife refuges.
The seven primary themes that exemplifies the area’s rich heritage include:
- Dorchester Families & Traditions
- Working Waterfront Villages
- Harriet Tubman & Eastern Shore African American History
- Agricultural Life
- Dorchester History, Architecture & Artifacts
- Chesapeake Landscapes & Outdoor Adventure
- Native American Heritage
The preservation and development of the resources identified by these themes will allow the diverse heritage to be appreciated for generations to come.
Since 1996, numerous progressive community leaders have demonstrated significant commitment to developing heritage tourism in Dorchester. Charged by the County Commissioners, the Dorchester County Office of Tourism has led the heritage tourism effort.
First, a Heritage Tourism Steering Committee was organized to examine ways to preserve the area's heritage and culture while providing economic opportunities for residents.
At the request of the Dorchester County Commissioners, this Steering Committee was reconstituted into a fifteen member Tourism Advisory Board, then later evolved as the Tourism Management Plan Steering Committee. This diverse group actively directed the development of the management plan for The Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area.
Over fifty people served on these various committees, including representatives from Dorchester County Department of Tourism, County Commissioners, Town and City Council members, Department of Planning & Zoning, Soil Conservation District, Cambridge Historic District, Brannock Maritime Museum, Harriet Tubman Organization, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland Historical Trust, Maryland Office of Tourism, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, local merchants and many others. The Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area Management Board, comprised of eleven members, currently directs the implementation of the heritage area management plan.
Preparation of a management plan approved by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority is a requirement for becoming a Maryland “Certified” Heritage Area. The approved Management Plan includes information on the boundaries of the Certified Heritage Area and “Target Investment Zones,” and presents the heritage area’s vision and goals and the strategies, projects, programs, actions, and partnerships that will be implemented to accomplish them.
Ms. Amanda Fenstermaker, Tourism Director
Dorchester County Tourism Department
Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area Office
2 Rose Hill Place
Cambridge, MD 21613
410-228-1000 or 800-522-TOUR
This page updated: January 20, 2011
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- Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway
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- Maryland Office of Tourism Development
- Maryland Department of Natural Resources
- National Heritage Areas Program (NPS)
- National Alliance of Heritage Areas