By: Scott Budden. Chesapeake and Liberty. Watermans Way and Striper Run. The streets in this fishing village turned maritime town reflect its connection to the bay. Generations of families have prospered from the fruits borne by the largest estuary in the United States. The very name, Rock Hall, is a nod to the bounty of the state fish: the striped bass or rockfish. As a result, an extensive marine infrastructure has flourished. Today this is shared by both watermen and recreational boaters alike.
Main Street is lined with quant gift shops, an old fashioned ice cream joint and lively music hall which brings in some of the region’s top talent. Seafood distributors and restaurants are around every corner, all featuring the daily catch. Crab houses and lively waterfront bars serve eastern shore cuisine set against spectacular sunsets. Rock Hall is unique in that it can be enjoyed on foot or bike, making it ideal for boaters.
The waterfront is home to several full-service major marinas that feature winter storage facilities and large travel lifts. Thousands of boaters choose Rock Hall as their gateway to the bay every season. The harbor bustles with everything from sailing dinghies to serious yachts. A yacht club provides a social venue as well as a competitive local sailing series.
The municipality itself consists of waterfront homes, farms and vacation bungalows. Rock Hall features good value for those seeking a second home. Many communities offer water access. As a result of this value, the town has not lost its identity as a mainstay in the county. Life-long residents share the waterways and bar stools with seasonal boaters and tourists. While they might not offer up the local fishing hot spot, they possess a small town America charm that is becoming more of a rarity in the mid-Atlantic.
Rock Hall hosts a variety of large-scale events year-round. The 4th of July fireworks show (held on the eve of the 4th) in the harbor draws thousands of revelers by land and sea. The parade held the morning of the show harkens back to a simpler time in our nation’s past. The holiday weekend is capped off by a waterman skills contest that showcases some of the best talent in the business. Another popular event is the Pirates and Wenches weekend held every August. Children and adults delight in funny accents, costumes, and treasure hunts!
Nestled north of the mouth of the Chester River, Rock Hall represents the old guard of eastern shore families coupled with a burgeoning tourism industry. In many ways it is a model for other small towns to follow. At the moment though, its uniqueness is what sets it apart and makes it special.