Welcome to the Kent Narrows Waterfront Region and to the Watermen’s Way Heritage Trail experience. This is one of six itineraries that mirrors one of the experiences featured in the Stories of Kent Narrows video series. Videos may be found on the Kent Narrows Development Foundation’s Vimeo channel, which is easily accessed through:KentNarrowsStories.org.
This video and itinerary are inspired the narrative given by Jason Ruth and local business owner and a native of this area. He is the owner of Harris Seafood, LLC. Harris Seafood Company places a great emphasis on ensuring the future of the oyster industry through aqua culture. Product delivered here is bought from approximately 350 watermen in the Chesapeake Bay region. Today Harris employs approximately 45 people from the local community. Next door is Harris Crab House, operated by President and General Manager Mike Harris. Both businesses are celebrating being in the seafood industry for over 70 years. The businesses had their beginnings here when in 1945 Holton C. Harris owned and operated a plant where Harris Seafood Company is now. Its name was the Kent Oyster Company. After William (Captain Bill) Holton Harris returned home from serving in the Army in WWII, he eventually purchased an oyster packing plant and continued to operate it under the Kent Oyster Company. This is the site where Harris Crab House is currently located. In the early 1900’s there were 20 shucking houses located in the Kent Narrows area. These businesses dominate this area along with Mears Point Marina and United Shellfish.
Locations: Mears Point Quadrant/ Harris Seafood to Wells Cove/Fisherman’s Village Quadrant
Point to Point Walking Time: 10 minutes
Getting here: Exit 42 off Rt.301/50 follow the signs to Main Street. (Rt.18) Kent Narrows East
What you will see and do:
This walking tour takes you to points around the Waterfront Kent Narrows Waterfront that have historic significance.
Harris Crab House and Harris Seafood
The demonstration area at the Oyster Recovery Project on the docks of the working waterfront.
A boardwalk trail that runs alongside of the Straight of the Kent Island Narrows and takes you under the Kent Narrows Bridge. Here you can get a close up look at the boats as they go by.
Maryland Watermen’s Monument
Miss Betty’s Oyster Plate at Fisherman’s Inn
Historically, the Kent Narrows is known as a place central to facilitating seafood trade. The Straight of the Kent Island Narrows serves as a key link to the region’s land and water-based transportation networks. It’s a place where those whose sustenance depended upon the water worked, traveled through and raised their families. Today, the region continues to directly support hundreds of water-related businesses and is rich with maritime heritage and the much of the waterfront at in Mears Point Quadrant is known today as the “Working Waterfront” due to the trade that happens here.
HARRIS CRAB HOUSE AND SEAFOOD
443 Kent Narrows Way North,
Grasonville, Md 21638
(note: Parking can be an issue during the busy seasons, alternate parking for this itinerary is available at the public lot under the Kent Narrows Bridge. A path from that lot goes directly to Harris Seafood.)
Visit Harris Crab House to see its rich collection of vintage oyster cans from all over the peninsula, and from other locations. Patrons may see the crabs, oysters and clams offloaded from the workboats to the docks and enjoy watching the boat traffic go by as they dine. Hard Crabs are offered here year-round, as is a variety of other fresh seafood offerings. Public parking and restrooms are available. ( A ramp is available for those with mobility challenges).
Next to Harris Crab House is the docking area at Harris Seafood. Take a walk along the dock and see the workboats and the Oyster Recovery Project in action. Partnering with the University of Maryland has allowed Harris Seafood to help restore the Bay’s oyster beds while promoting the seafood industry. Learn more about the history of the oysters in the bay through the narratives posted around this dock area. Ice cream is offered her during the boating season.
Follow the walking path from Harris parking area, south to the Kent Narrows Bridge parking area.
At the south end of the parking lot at Harris Crab house you can take a paved trail to the parking area under the bridge. Cross the parking lot and head to the water to get to the boardwalk trail that runs under the Rt.301/50 bridge and ends up in front of area where The Big Owl, The Narrows Restaurant and Fisherman’s Crab Deck are located. Along the way, you may see see the Watermen’s Memorial Drawbridge in action. The boardwalk trail is designed for walking. Fishing is prohibited.
The larger Rt.50/301 Bridge was dedicated in May of 2018 to R. Clayton Mitchell, III. Former Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates. The Bridge was built in the early 1990s as part of the US 50/301 upgrades on the Eastern Shore. (Note: Construction is scheduled for this area so please check in advance to make sure this portion of the tour is accessible)
MARYLAND WATERMEN'S MONUMENT
Cross over Kent Narrows Way South to the Maryland Watermen’s Monument. The monument was constructed in 2003. It’s dedicated to all watermen in the State of Maryland for their tremendous contribution to the State’s seafood industry, culture and heritage. It pays homage to their unique way of life and legacy. Should you wish to continue on, you may access the Cross Island Trail from this location. If you travel east on Rt.18, you will come to a lively waterfront dining scene. A gift shop sits next to the Hilton Garden Inn and many local souvenir may be purchased at many of the restaurants. A local seafood market is here should you wish to have fresh seafood packed -up and iced-down for your trip home.
MISS BETTY'S OYSTER PLATE COLLECTION AT FISHERMAN'S INN
Continue on across the parking lot to Fisherman’s Inn to get a look at Miss Betty’s Oyster Plate Collection. This impressive collection belonged to Betty Schulz, the longtime matriarch of Fisherman’s Inn Restaurant, whose parents started the business in the 1930’s. The Eastern Shore Landmark is still operated today by her family members. The restaurant has a variety of Eastern Shore memorabilia displayed throughout. It is also pays homage to the area’s rich railroad history with a “G Scale” model train that runs through the restaurant on a suspended track.
Stories of Kent Narrows is
an outgrowth of the Kent Narrows Maritime Heritage Project
It is produced by through Kent Narrows Development Foundation. It was made possible through the cooperation of Queen Anne’s County and numerous local business, government and non-profit organizations.
This project was financed in part with State Funds from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority, an instrument of the State of Maryland. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Maryland Heritage Area Authority. This initiative is linked to Eastern Shore Heritage, Inc.’s Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area’s programs.
Facebook: Kent Narrows Waterfront Page @kentnarrows
Watermen’s Way Heritage Trail Page @storiesofkentnarrows