Worcester County, Maryland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Worcester County, Maryland
Seal of Worcester County, Maryland
Map of Maryland highlighting Worcester County
Location in the state of Maryland
Map of the United States highlighting Maryland
Maryland's location in the U.S.
Founded 1742
Named for Earl of Worcester
Seat Snow Hill
 • Total 694.73 sq mi (1,799 km2)
 • Land 473.24 sq mi (1,226 km2)
 • Water 221.49 sq mi (574 km2), 31.88%
 • (2010) 51,454
 • Density 109/sq mi (41.9/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.co.worcester.md.us

Worcester County /ˈwʊərstər/ is the easternmost county of the U.S. state of Maryland. As of the 2010 census, the population was 51,454.[1] Its county seat is Snow Hill.[2] The county was named for an Earl of Worcester a member of the British nobility in the "mother Country" of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.[2]

It is included in the Salisbury, Maryland-Delaware Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county includes the entire length of the state's ocean and tidewater coast along the Intracoastal Waterway bordering the Sinepuxent Bay, Assawoman Bay and Assateague Channel and Bay between the sand barrier islands of Assateague Island and Chincoteague Island bordering the Atlantic Ocean coast. It is home to the popular vacation resort area of Ocean City, founded 1875, as well as wild habitats on the primitive wilderness areas on Assateague Island and in the Pocomoke River and Swamp.


Worcester County was created by the division of the formerly larger Eastern Shore's Somerset County in 1742. The county seat, which was previously located near the confluence of Dividing Creek with the Pocomoke River, was later transferred to the river port of Snow Hill, at the head of navigation of the Pocomoke, now near the center of the new county.

Both the areas of Somerset and Worcester Counties were divided into old colonial divisions of "hundreds", from south to north: Mattapony, Pocomoke, Boquetenorton, Wicomico, and Baltimore Hundreds. Later subdivisions of these hundreds added Pitts Creek, Acquango, Queponco, and Buckingham & Worcester Hundreds, all of which in turn eventually became election districts for the newly independent state following American independence. Competing territorial claims between the Proprietor family of the Calverts and the Lords Baltimore in the old Province of Maryland and the Penns of the neighboring Province of Pennsylvania to the north and of what later became the state of Delaware to the east led to the surveying of Worcester County's northern border, the "Transpeninsular Line" in 1751, though boundary disputes continued through the rest of the colonial period, not totally settled until the work of the famous Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon with their "Mason-Dixon Line". In 1779, Stephen Decatur, the famous United States Navy officer and hero of the First Barbary War and the Second Barbary War in the early 1800s, and leading into the War of 1812, was born at Sinepuxent, near what is today the town of Berlin.

Originally settled by European immigrants of British and Irish stock, along with bound laborers of mainly West African descent, Worcester County was divided during the colonial period into several Church of England parishes, though Quakers, Presbyterians, and later Methodists also set up meeting houses. Like the border states in general, Worcester County had a high proportion of free people of color for many decades before the Civil War, due in part to the influence of initially Quakerism, and later Methodism.

Worcester County was primarily an agricultural area from its inception, first planting tobacco, but when the quality produced in the area's sandy soil could not compete with that produced elsewhere, growing wheat, corn, and livestock. Early industrial activity included the smelting of bog iron ore in a brick blast furnace to make pig iron at Furnacetown in the first half of the 19th century. The presence of large bald cypress swamps along the Pocomoke River led to logging, the manufacture of roofing shingles, and shipbuilding along the river at Newtown (later Pocomoke City). The arrival of steam-powered water transport and then the railroad opened urban markets to another of Worcester County's principal products: seafood, particularly shellfish. Oysters, clams, and crabs were shipped to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Soon after the Civil War (to each side of which Worcester County sent soldiers), parts of both Worcester and Somerset Counties were combined to create, in 1867, Wicomico County. Also in the later 19th century, the seaside resort of Ocean City was founded.

Truck farming and the canning industry came to the fore during the early 20th century. However, both the seafood industry and truck farming declined after mid-century, due to overfishing on the one hand, and the opening of California's Central Valley to irrigated agriculture on the other, but the advent of the large-scale poultry industry filled this gap. The expansion of Ocean City since the 1960s has turned the northern part of the county from a summer resort to an expanding year-round community.

Two major storms influenced the course of Worcester County history in the 20th Century: the hurricane of August 1933, which badly damaged Ocean City and Public Landing, but also cut the Ocean City Inlet and passageway between the inner bays west of the sandy barrier islands of Assawoman Bay, Sinepuxent Bay and Assateague Channel and Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, and the later Ash Wednesday "Nor'easter" of 1962, which destroyed much of the residential development on Assateague Island and led to the creation of the National Seashore and State Park.

The county has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places.[3]

Law and government[edit]

Worcester County was granted home rule in 1976 under a state code under the amendments to the fourth Maryland Constitution of 1867. The Circuit Court of Maryland and District Court of Maryland are located in Snow Hill with two district courthouses.


The following institutions are part of the Worcester County public school system, governed by the Worcester County Board of Education:

  1. Showell Elementary School
  2. Buckingham Elementary School
  3. Ocean City Elementary School
  4. Snow Hill Elementary School
  5. Pocomoke Elementary School
  6. Berlin Intermediate School
  7. Stephen Decatur Middle School
  8. Snow Hill Middle School
  9. Pocomoke Middle School
  10. Stephen Decatur High School
  11. Snow Hill High School
  12. Pocomoke High School
  13. Worcester Technical High School
  14. Cedar Chapel Special School

In the fall of 2008 Worcester County has plans to open Worcester Technical High School to all residents of the county, to replace Worcester Career and Technology Center.

The following private schools also operate in Worcester County:

  1. Worcester Preparatory School
  2. Seaside Christian Academy
  3. Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic School
  4. Snow Hill Mennonite School
  5. The Tidewater School by the Sea


According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 694.73 square miles (1,799.3 km2), of which 473.24 square miles (1,225.7 km2) (or 68.12%) is land and 221.49 square miles (573.7 km2) (or 31.88%) is water.[4]

The terrain is mostly level and coastal. The lowest elevation is sea level along the Atlantic Ocean and the highest elevation is 49 ft (15 m) in the northwestern part of the county along State Route 12 just south of the Wicomico County line.

National protected area[edit]


Major U.S. highways in Worcester County include U.S. Route 50, whose east end is in Ocean City. US 50 serves as one of the main access points to Ocean City, also surrounded by a vast amount of commercial development. U.S. Route 13 is the main north–south route of the Delmarva Peninsula, providing access to Pocomoke City. U.S. Route 113 is the main north–south artery of Worcester County, serving Pocomoke City, Snow Hill, and Berlin, and is well-known locally for its dangerous two-lane sections which are currently being addressed. US 113 also possesses a business route through Snow Hill. Major state highways include Maryland Route 90, which is a freeway from US 50 to northern Ocean City, and Maryland Route 12, which connects Snow Hill and Salisbury.

Freight trains run from Snow Hill north to Berlin and the Delaware border on the Maryland and Delaware Railroad, and the main line (formerly Pennsylvania Railroad) from Philadelphia to Cape Charles, Virginia and Norfolk runs through the southwestern corner of the county, operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway north of Pocomoke City and the Bay Coast Railroad south of Pocomoke City. The Ocean City Municipal Airport is located near Ocean City, but has no scheduled service. The nearest airport with commercial air service is the Salisbury–Ocean City–Wicomico Regional Airport near Salisbury.

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 11,640
1800 16,370 40.6%
1810 16,971 3.7%
1820 17,421 2.7%
1830 18,273 4.9%
1840 18,377 0.6%
1850 18,859 2.6%
1860 20,661 9.6%
1870 16,419 −20.5%
1880 19,539 19.0%
1890 19,747 1.1%
1900 20,865 5.7%
1910 21,841 4.7%
1920 22,309 2.1%
1930 21,624 −3.1%
1940 21,245 −1.8%
1950 23,148 9.0%
1960 23,733 2.5%
1970 24,442 3.0%
1980 30,889 26.4%
1990 35,028 13.4%
2000 46,543 32.9%
2010 51,454 10.6%
Est. 2012 51,578 0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]
2012 Estimate[6]


Whereas according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau:


As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 46,543 people, 19,694 households, and 13,273 families residing in the county. The population density was 98 people per square mile (38/km²). There were 47,360 housing units at an average density of 100 per square mile (39/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 81.20% White, 16.66% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 0.97% from two or more races. 1.28% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 15.7% were of German, 13.3% English, 12.6% Irish, 11.1% American and 6.0% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 19,694 households out of which 24.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.20% were married couples living together, 10.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.60% were non-families. 26.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.79.

In the county the population was spread out with 20.50% under the age of 18, 6.20% from 18 to 24, 26.40% from 25 to 44, 26.90% from 45 to 64, and 20.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 95.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $40,650, and the median income for a family was $47,293. Males had a median income of $31,735 versus $24,319 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,505. About 7.20% of families and 9.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.00% of those under age 18 and 6.40% of those age 65 or over.

Cities and towns[edit]

This county contains the following incorporated municipalities:

Unincorporated areas are also considered as towns by many people and listed in many collections of towns, but they lack local government. Various organizations, such as the United States Census Bureau, the United States Postal Service, and local chambers of commerce, define the communities they wish to recognize differently, and since they are not incorporated, their boundaries have no official status outside the organizations in question. The Census Bureau recognizes the following census-designated places in the county:

  1. Bishopville
  2. Girdletree
  3. Newark
  4. Ocean Pines
  5. Showell
  6. Stockton
  7. West Ocean City
  8. Whaleyville

Other unincorporated places not listed as Census-Designated Places but known in the area include:

  1. Boxiron
  2. Cedartown
  3. Friendship
  4. Germantown
  5. Goodwill
  6. Klej Grange
  7. Libertytown
  8. Nassawango Hills
  9. Poplartown
  10. Public Landing
  11. Sinnepuxent
  12. South Point
  13. Taylorville
  14. Whiton

Notable persons[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  4. ^ "Census 2000 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Counties". United States Census. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Census.gov. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Census.gov. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 


  • Touart, Paul Baker, Along the Seaboard Side: The Architectural History of Worcester County, Maryland (1994).

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°14′N 75°17′W / 38.23°N 75.28°W / 38.23; -75.28