History of Cape Charles

Cape Charles, the first planned community on the Eastern Shore, owes its existence to the presence of the New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk Railroad, which extended to the lower Eastern Shore in the early 1880's.  Beginning in 1933, passenger and freight trains as well as automobiles were ferried across the Chesapeake Bay from this terminus, helping to make Cape Charles a Mecca for passengers and freight.  In the 1950's, Cape Charles slumbered when the auto ferry terminus moved and steamer service ceased.

Most of the town is a historic district, with the majority of the original town structures still standing; only several buildings have been constructed since 1940.  Few towns have a comparable collection of more than 500 buildings dating between 1885 and 1940. Many homes have recently been purchased as summer and retirement residences as the vitality of this once-busy town is gradually reawakened.

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