welcome to the mural trail
See one or all of the murals that are part of the growing Chesapeake Country Mural Trail in Dorchester County, Maryland! The murals highlight bits of Dorchester’s culture and history along the Michener Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway. The five murals described below were created by Michael Rosato, a nationally known muralist who lives here in Dorchester County. Read the interesting story of how Michael became a muralist and what drew him to Dorchester. The murals were funded by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and the Federal Highway Administration.
An unused train caboose owned by Powell Real Estate became the canvas for a richly textured depiction of Canada geese seeming to break out of the caboose, with a view of the marsh behind them. Canada geese are a frequent sight in Dorchester County, especially during spring and fall migration. Mural created by Michael Rosato.
LOCATION: Powell Real Estate, 200 Trenton St, Cambridge, MD 21613
INSPIRATION FOR THE MURAL:
“As the days of summer shortened he would tell his boys, ‘Some day now,’ and each morning he would test the wind, and he could guess within two days of when the great birds would come sailing in, their raucous voices filling the air with protest as they argued where to land, and when they finally agreed upon his marsh he would run out as if to embrace them, for they shared this sanctuary with him, and like the deer, they were safe from his gun so long as they stayed here.” (Chesapeake, p. 148, The Marsh).
J.M. Clayton’s Seafood is the oldest continuously operating crab factory in the world, so a mural on the side of the building just had to include a crab. But what will catch your eye first is a stunning great blue heron who is about to chow down on his own private crab feast. Mural created by Michael Rosato.
LOCATION: You’ll get a good view of the mural from the drawbridge over Cambridge Creek (near Maryland Avenue and Academy Street). For a closeup view, go to J.M. Clayton’s at 108 Commerce St., Cambridge, MD and walk around the back of the building.
INSPIRATION FOR THE MURAL:
“’Kraannk, kraannk!’ It was one of the ugliest sounds in nature, as awkward and ungainly as the creature that uttered it, but to Pentaquod it meant the return of a friend, and he rushed to the water’s edge to welcome Fishing-long-legs as that inelegant bird landed in a crash and a clutter, throwing mud and water as it dug its feet in to stop…. Suddenly the bird looked up, saw (Pentaquod) and at the same time saw in the waters below the choicest morsel in the bay. With a swift dart of its beak the small head dived, caught its prey and raised it head exultantly, throwing the catch in the air, then snapping it in two.” (Chesapeake, p. 17, The River)
“’What is crab?’ Pentaquod asked, and Scar-chin replied, ‘When Manitou, the Great Power, finished populating the river with everything our village required—pine trees for canoes, deer to feed us in summer, geese and oysters for winter—He saw that we were grateful and well disposed. So in His grace He created one thing more, to stand as a token of His eternal concern. He made the crab and hid him in our salty waters.’” (p. 25, The River)
The side of the Vienna Community Center was transformed into something of a timeline of local history, beginning with Native American culture and continuing through the time of colonial settlers. The mural is located in Vienna, Maryland, a town established more than 300 years ago on the banks of the Nanticoke River. The river and a waterfront park are just a few hundred feet from the mural. Captain John Smith explored waterways in this area in the early 1600s. Mural created by Michael Rosato.
LOCATION: Murphy Community Hall, 104 Race St., Vienna, MD 21869
INSPIRATION FOR THE MURAL:
This mural is not inspired by specific passages in the Chesapeake text—it is inspired by the whole story. The vignettes in this mural span the history of Vienna from the early Indians through to the early modern period. This mirrors the historic sweep of the story of Chesapeake.
- Native Americans: A Nanticoke Indian aims his bow and arrow at a duck from his canoe on the river. A typical Indian village is visible on the far shore in the background.
- Nanticoke-European Contact: Captain John Smith approaches the Chief of the Nanticoke Indians on the shore of the river. Smith’s shallop and crew are visible in the background.
- Colonial Period: Two surveyors look over plans for Vienna town layout. In the middle background, boatbuilders are busy working on the hull of a boat. In the far background, boats are moored on the river.
- Civil War Period: Governor of Maryland Holliday Hicks is seen stumping on a platform in the center of town. Around him, horses and carts carry goods to and from the ferry, depicting the brisk trade in farm goods, fur and tobacco of that period.
- Early Modern Period: This scene shows a sloop moored at the dock, unloading supplies and taking on a cargo of seafood. In the middle background you see the steam engine of the period crossing the Nanticoke. In the far background is visible the power plant that brought electricity to the area.
Historic East New Market is home to two murals across the street from each other at the small town’s main intersection. One is on the Mason building; the other is on the municipal building. Both murals capture a sense of the business and commerce of the area. One shows trading between Native Americans and settlers; the other shows a train, a nod to the important role railroading played in this area. Mural created by Michael Rosato.
LOCATION: Main Street (Route 16) and Railroad Avenue (Route 14), East New Market, MD 21631
INSPIRATION FOR THE MURAL:
“On the Eastern Shore…there would be no town or village until the close of the century; even famous settlements like Oxford, Cambridge and Easton would not come till late, and this was understandable, for it was only at the ends of the innumerable peninsulas that pioneers settled….But wherever men accumulate, towns begin mysteriously begin to form…” (p. 149, The Marsh)
“…But now, with the possibility of a rail system running the length of the peninsula and connecting with the North at Philadelphia and the South via Norfolk, the Eastern Shore had a bright future…” (p. 566, The Railroad)
This mural honoring local watermen graces the outside of the Dorchester County Visitor Center facing the Choptank River. The 33-foot by 11-foot mural, which shows three watermen harvesting oysters, is visible from the Malkus Bridge for people driving into Cambridge. Get a close-up view by strolling from the Visitor Center parking lot down the curving boardwalk toward the water, and then turn around for a look. Be sure to stop in the Visitor Center for information about the area, exhibits, restrooms, and more. The Visitor Center is open daily, 8:30am-5pm, except major holidays.
LOCATION: Dorchester County Visitor Center, 2 Rose Hill Place, Cambridge, MD 21613
INSPIRATION FOR THE MURAL:
“We have observed Thy day with prayers and have sought Thy blessing upon our families. Now we ask Thee guide this boat to where the arsters sleep awaiting our coming. Lord, make the harvest a rich one. St. Peter, guardian of fishermen, protect us. St. Partick, who crossed the sea, watch over this boat. St. Andrew, who fished the Sea of Galilee, guide us to our catch.
“They needed prayers, for their work was both hard and dangerous. When Captain Jake felt that the Jessie T was properly positioned over the invisible bed, he ordered Caveny and the three Turlocks to drop the two dredges, one port, one starboard, and when these iron-pronged collectors had bounced over the bottom long enough, he tested the wires holding them, calculating whether the load was adequate, and when he was satisfied, he ordered the dredges hauled aboard. Now the muscle work began… (Chesapeake, pg. 676)
Local African-American Heritage Mural
The mural highlights Cambridge’s rich African-American history, culture and heritage, particularly in the community around Pine Street, which is one of the oldest African-American communities in the country that dates back to the mid-1800s. The 11-foot-by-48-foot mural was created by artist Michael Rosato.
Rosato met with community members to discuss the mural’s design and to get ideas about the people and places they thought should be included. The final product is a mix of some of Dorchester’s most well-known citizens, as well as “ordinary” people. Rosato explained that the design of the mural is very deliberate. “At the center of the mural is Harriet Tubman, who is a symbol of courage, hard work, perseverance, and loyalty to her family and community,” Rosato said. “Everything radiates out from her, from her heart and center.” (Tubman was born into slavery in Dorchester County, just a few miles away from the mural.)
To Tubman’s left and right are leaders, including Gloria Richardson Dandridge, a key figure in the civil rights movement in Cambridge in the 1960s, and small business owners and everyday people whose contributions may not be as well known but resonate to this day—a bricklayer, a barber, a baker, a farmer, a high school athlete, and more. Other figures in the mural represent a Tuskegee airman; Dr. J. Edwin Fassett; Nurse Maxine Magee, one of the first African-American public health nurses in the country; and Ella Fitzgerald, one of many popular African-American musicians who performed on Pine Street. “Several of the people in mural are looking out, engaging you, inviting you to learn more about them,” Rosato explained. “To me, it’s a very upbeat, positive look at this vibrant community and its accomplishments over the decades.”
LOCATION: Near the corner of Maryland Avenue and Route 50 in Cambridge, MD 21613.
Dorchester is home to a few other murals, including:
Located on the side of a downtown Cambridge building by Cannery Way, a brick courtyard where events are occasionally held, this mural was created by local artists Willy Schlossbach and Jen Wagner. A combination of mosaic and paint, the mural traces Cambridge’s history from Native American times to more recent times.
LOCATION: Near 432 Race Street, Cambridge, MD 21613
Jimmie & Sook’s Mural
Jimmie & Sook’s Raw Bar and Grill in downtown Cambridge commissioned a mural to fill the entire wall of its main dining room with a vibrant celebration of the water, boats, sea creatures, and more. The mural was created by folk artist Danny Doughty when he lived in Cambridge.
LOCATION: 527 Poplar St., Cambridge, MD 21613
Fishing Creek Barber Shop Mural
Another work by folk artist Danny Doughty, the mural on the inside wall of Slick’s Barber Shop in downtown Cambridge depicts vibrant Eastern Shore scenery.
LOCATION: 432 Race St., Cambridge, MD 21613
American Legion Post 243 Flag Mural
This mural of the U.S. flag was painted by nationally known artist Scott LoBaido of New York. He dedicated himself to painting the flag on one veterans’ post in each state — and for Maryland, he chose the American Legion Post 243 in Hurlock. He painted it as a gift to those who have served.
LOCATION: 57 Legion Dr, Hurlock, MD 21643
Wizard of Oz Mural
Located on a large wall of the Cambridge Premier Cinemas, this captures the movie classic “Wizard of Oz” with Dorothy and friends on the Yellow Brick Road.
LOCATION: 2759 Dorchester Square, Cambridge, MD 21613 (In the Wal-Mart shopping center on Route 50; mural is on the wall facing Wal-Mart)