Thursday, May 1, 2008

Eastern Shore of Maryland
The Eastern Shore of Maryland is composed of the state's nine counties east of the Chesapeake Bay. The counties are Caroline County, Cecil County, Dorchester County, Kent County, Queen Anne's County, Somerset County, Talbot County, Wicomico County, Worcester County. Some dispute Cecil County as a true Shore county, however, because of the presence of I-95 and related development, proximity to and influence from nearby urban areas such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Wilmington, Delaware, and the state of New Jersey, as well as its position straddling the Elk River - leaving half of the county geographically west of the Shore, instead connected to the Western Shore's Harford County.
Although the Eastern Shore comprises more than a third of Maryland's land area, it only has a population of 420,792 (2004 census estimate), about 8% of Maryland's population.
The main economic activities on the Eastern Shore are vegetable and grain truck farming, seafood, large-scale chicken breeding (the Perdue Company began in Salisbury, Maryland), and services related to tourism. Ocean City is an oft-visited resort destination on the Eastern Shore. It must be noted that most business at Ocean City are owned not by natives but by Baltimoreans, thus rendering the flavor of Ocean City life unlike that of the rest of the Shore. The Ocean City skyline, featuring many tall hotels and condominiums, is also a stark contrast to the rest of Delmarva. Other picturesque tourist destinations include the town of St. Michael's on a neck surrounded by water; colonial Chestertown; and isolated Smith Island. The population of fish and other marine life is threatened by pollution and environmental factors. Duck hunting from raised platforms ("blinds") is popular, and carved wooden duck decoys are prized as works of art.
The Eastern Shore has always been a distinctive region, and has often attempted to split off from the state of Maryland. Proposals have been debated in the Maryland General Assembly in 1833-1835, 1852 and recently in 1999 for the Eastern Shore becoming its own state. Early proposals encompassed a state of the entire Delmarva Peninsula. The proposal in 1999 by State Senators Richard F. Colburn and J. Lowell Stoltzfus did not specify the status of the nine counties of the Eastern Shore after secession.
Transportation across the Chesapeake Bay was by ferries until 1952, when the first Chesapeake Bay Bridge was opened for traffic. The bridge spans 4.35 miles (7.00 km) of the Chesapeake Bay and is the longest continuous over-water steel structure. A second parallel span was added in 1973 and a third is in the planning stages.
The advent of easy transportation and tourism to the Eastern Shore did much to erode its distinctive culture and its many accents that date to the 17th and 18th centuries, but which persist in remote places like Smith Island.
An Eastern Shore Baseball League operated on three different occasions between the 1922 and 1949. It was a Class D minor league with teams in all three states of Delmarva.
Though seven of the nine counties have a majority of Democratic-registered voters, most elected officials are Republicans. The entire Eastern shore is in Maryland's 1st congressional district.

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