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Tolchester photograph collection

Identifier: PP 0128


This collection contains views of Tolchester and the vicinity including parks, amusements, and hotels. Also included are photographs from excursion steamships of the Tolchester Steamboat Company.


  • 1883-1925

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Historical Note

In 1877 the Tolchester Steamboat Company opened the Tolchester Beach Amusement Park in Kent County, Maryland. Due to the advent of steamship routes on the Chesapeake Bay, Tolchester Beach quickly became a favorite destination for Baltimoreans, which was only 27 miles across the bay. Steamers ran daily between Baltimore and the park, which grew to over 150 acres and included a hotel, pavilion, bathing beach, and a variety of attractions--such as horse-racing, a merry-go-round and roller coaster-- and games, including a shooting range and tenpin bowling alley.

The Tolchester Steamboat Company, incorporated in 1878, ran excursion steamships to Tolchester Beach from its pier at Light Street in Baltimore. One of the most popular excursion steamers on the bay was the company's side-wheeler "Louise," acquired in 1882. With a capacity of 2,500 passengers, the "Louise" is said to have carried 5 million passengers in 40 years of operation.

At times, the Tolchester Steamboat Company operated routes to Annapolis, and along other Maryland waterways including the Susquehanna, Sassafras, and Little Choptank Rivers. The Susquehanna, a screw steamer built in 1898, ran to Betterton, Port Deposit and Havre de Grace under the direction of Captain John Kirwan. The Express, purchased in 1925, was a double-end side-wheeler with an extra deck to carry automobiles.

The original Tolchester Steamboat Company closed in 1936, and was taken over by a new company, Tolchester Lines, Inc. In the late 1950s the company was sold and resold, with the Tolchester Beach excursion service and park lands remaining in operation through the early 1960s. The land at the Tolchester Beach Amusement Park was finally sold for development in 1962.


2.0 Linear Feet (2 flat boxes and 4 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



The photographs are arranged according to PP catalog numbers. Medium-sized photographs are stored separately.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of S. Vannort Chapman, 1984.

Related Materials

MS 1073, Eliason collection, 1884-1940

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of two boxes with 23 folders. There are a total of 74 photoprints (14 larger format photos are stored separately) from circa 1883-1925 of Tolchester Beach in Kent County, Maryland. Included are views of the beach, parks, amusements, and hotels at Tolchester, with excursion steamships of the Tolchester Steamboat Company on the Chesapeake Bay including Louise, Susquehanna, and Express. There are views of a flood and damage from a storm at Tolchester Park in 1915.

Additionally, there are nine photographs depicting crowds gathered at Mount Vernon Place in Baltimore, Maryland to celebrate the arrival of the Marshal of France, Joseph Jacques Césaire Joffre, and the French Mission. Joffre was visiting the city as part of a French delegation touring the country after the United States entered World War I. Women, men, and children holding American flags comprise these crowd scenes and small groups of African Americans are integrated in the crowds as well.

Guide to the Tolchester photograph collection
Katherine Cowan
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 02-01-2020: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States