Near and around Cambridge Harbor there are various destinations focused on preserving and honoring the legacy of Harriet Tubman. Born into the chains of slavery in Dorchester County in 1822, made her escape north in 1849. Over a dozen times Tubman risked her life to lead enslaved friends and family to freedom as a conductor of the Underground Railroad.
The Emerson E. Harrington Bridge, now the old fishing pier next to our site, marked an economic boom for Cambridge in the 1930s, becoming the first constant direct link northward to Annapolis and Baltimore. It extended across two miles of the Choptank River, and until the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, it prominently held the title of the “Longest Bridge in Maryland.”
The bridge’s construction lasted between 1933-1935 and was funded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal agency, The Public Works Administration. This massive feat of engineering provided employment to over 200 men from Dorchester and the surrounding counties during the Great Depression.
Aboard his presidential yacht, the President made an appearance during the bridge’s dedication ceremony on October 26, 1935. A large crowd of residents and out-of-towners gathered in cars, boats, and on foot to celebrate the inauguration of the bridge.
In 1987 the original Choptank River Bridge was replaced by the Frederick C. Malkus, Jr. Bridge. To this day, that bridge is used by thousands of travelers making their way through the Eastern Shore, and it’s soon to be one of the major thruways that lead to Cambridge Harbor.
Cambridge’s industry grew rapidly following the Civil War. A charter was granted to the Cambridge Harbor Internal Navigation and Wharf Company to cover the costs, around $7,500, to move the riverbed with mud machines.