In Ocean City we often hear of the famous hurricane in 1933 that cut the Inlet and made Ocean City the tourist and fishing town it is today. Prior to this storm, and dating back to about 1890, Public Landing in Snow Hill was actually the popular beach area, along with George Island Landing, a bayfront area further south in present day Worcester County. Public Landing once featured rides, a large water slide, a bowling alley, silent films, a dance hall, a hotel and a safe, protected area for swimming. According to the book “Snow Hill” by Mindie Burgoyne, the road to Public Landing was paved in 1923, leading to even greater growth in the area.
A number of business owners and locals witnessed the storm in 1933. Mindie Burgoyne’s “Snow Hill” tells a tale of the owner of the bowling alley and his family living in an apartment above their business on the pier, narrowly escaping being swept into the bay as the pier was destroyed. An article in The Washington Post by Eugene L. Meyer quotes a resident experiencing waves breaking up to the top of the roof of their house.
Attempts were made to restore Public Landing after the storm of 1933, but the area was never revived to the glory it once experienced. This may have been partially due to World War II, where Public Landing took on a new identity. Members of the military would watch for enemy ships or planes from the Public Landing Pier. Lights in local homes and businesses had to be limited at night, according to The Washington Post.
Today, a trip to Public Landing still feels special, but it’s hard to imagine that this quiet village ever hosted the crowds of a summer resort. The pier today features two small picnic areas and a small stairway down into the bay. Along the shore a small, but beautiful boardwalk allows visitors to sit and enjoy the view. Down the road you’ll find a small stretch of sand forming Public Landing’s bay beach. You’ll also find a boat launch. The only business that remains is the Mansion House Bed and Breakfast. Though the amusements of the past are gone, people still enjoy the area for swimming, crabbing, fishing, kayaking and windsurfing.
We encourage you to take a trip to Public Landing, just minutes outside of Snow Hill, and enjoy a quiet moment reflecting on what this area once was.
Thank you to the Snow Hill Town Hall for providing the photo of the Public Landing Slide.