In the years between 1668 and 1751, the government of Maryland envisioned an urban development program unrivaled in scope by any other colony except Virginia. Unwilling to allow development to occur naturally, both the Lord Proprietor and the legislature tried to create towns, ignoring the social, economic, and topographic realities that would doom most of them to short lives.
The background of Maryland’s attempt at urbanization is complex and perplexing. It is a history laced with proclamations and laws, acts and supplementary acts, all of which flowed against the grain of rural plantation society, as time and experience eventually proved.
Of the 130 sites designated in the tidewater section of the state, less than a score exist today as cities or towns of any note. The others, the majority, shared a common end—they disappeared into oblivion, destroyed by the sequence of tumultuous events that shaped Maryland’s past.
This is the story of ten lost towns, chosen to represent a cross section of all. Each was unique in the manner in which it was given birth, flickered into existence against all odds, matured, and finally expired. The story of Maryland’s lost towns is not a simple tale of buildings and wharves, but a history of the people, both freemen and slaves, who created them, lived and worked in them, defended them, and died with them.