Does anyone else day dream of warm summer days filled with sun, sand, and surf? I know I do! Growing up in Maryland, I spent many summers visiting Ocean City. If anyone has been to Ocean City, they will surely remember playing in the sand, swimming in the surf, strolling the boardwalk, and eating sweet treats. One may also remember the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum at the Inlet. Long before the days of the Ocean City Beach Patrol and even before the U.S. Coast Guard, there was the U.S. Life-Saving Service.
In the nineteenth century, the Atlantic coast was sparsely populated, therefore sailors could expect little to no assistance if their ship ran aground. The U.S. Life-Saving Service, founded in 1878, erected life-saving stations, lifeboat stations, and houses of refuge along the coastline to aid shipwrecked mariners.
The Cartographic Branch of the National Archives at College Park holds records for the life-saving stations in Ocean City, North Beach, and Green Run Inlet. Below are some drawings of those life-saving stations.
Historic life-saving and other shore stations operated by the Coast Guard in Maryland include: Annapolis, Curtis Bay, Crisfield, Isle of Wight, Oxford, St. Inigoes, and Stillpond.
The Ocean City Life-Saving Station (No. 146) was built in 1878. It was located at the northern edge of Ocean City. In 1891, a newer station was built. The building was used until 1964. At that time, it was turned over to the General Services Administration and an even newer building was built near the Inlet. The 1891 building was moved to the southern end of the Boardwalk overlooking the Inlet where it houses the museum.
The North Beach Lifesaving Station (No. 147) was built in 1883 on the beach at the north end of Chincoteague Bay on Assateague Island. It was located near the present boathouse museum. The North Beach Station was one of four stations located on Assateague Island. The station was turned over to the General Services Administration in 1970. Today, little if any evidence remains of the station which is usually covered by sand.
Green Run Inlet
The Green Run Inlet Station (No. 148) was built in 1875-76 about 13.5 miles northeast of the Assateague Light. It was 8 miles south of the North Beach Station. Use of the building was discontinued in 1939. Similar to the North Beach Station, little if any evidence remains of the station.
More information on this series is available in the National Archives Catalog at https://catalog.archives.gov/id/624677.
Additional drawings of life-saving stations can be found in RG 26, Maps and Plans for Lighthouses, Beacons and Rescue Stations. More information on that series is available in the National Archives Catalog at https://catalog.archives.gov/id/624564. To search, click “Search within this series” and enter the name or life-saving station number into the search box.