Bayside Wharf, located in New Point (Mathews, VA), was established by the New Point Development Corporation (WC Handy, JE Davis, and WA Snow) in 1912 as a trading port for goods to/from Norfolk and Baltimore. The Wharf consisted of a ½ mile-long pier jetting out into the Chesapeake Bay, an ice/fish-packing plant run by Lionel Haywood in the mid 1900’s, a small store on the land that sold food, drinks and items watermen would use and even a dance hall where locals would come for entertainment. The Wharf had a narrow-guage railroad track with a cargo carrier that pulled the fresh fish from the boats to the ice plant onshore, where men would pack the fish with ice in crates of 100 lbs., then send the packed fish crates from the land back to the steamships in order to carry them to Baltimore and Norfolk.
Bayside had a tumultuous “life”. It burned twice, once in March of 1931 and again in March of 1933. That same year, like most wharves in the area, Bayside sustained a great deal of damage in the Storm of ’33, when residents saw a 12-foot wall of water overtake Mathews County. Before that time, there was another New Point wharf called Beach Wharf, located very near the New Point Lighthouse, which was attached to land with the lightkeeper’s house just next to it. The Storm of ’33 took the house, wharf and all the land around the lighthouse leaving it on an island.
Unlike Beach Wharf, Bayside was rebuilt and remained in operation until Hurricane Hazel wiped out the ice plant, store, dance hall and ½ mile-long commercial pier in October 1954, the remnants of which are still there today.
Today, owned and preserved by the Mathews Land Conservancy, a 16’ x 24’ raised pavilion sits on the footprint of the wharf overlooking the historic New Point Lighthouse. Standing there in that peaceful setting looking out over the vast Chesapeake Bay, it’s hard to imagine that, at one time, Bayside was a bustling center of maritime activity.
Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater
Thirty-five million years ago, near what is now the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, a 2-mile wide meteorite struck the continental shelf of eastern North America and blasted through the water column and thousands of feet of sediment and into the underlying continental crust. The resulting structure, now buried beneath younger sediments, is a 53-mile wide, filled crater, the sixth largest known crater on earth, centered below Cape Charles, VA. The CB crater is a unique feature in the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Its location corresponds to an unusually large extent of salty groundwater that significantly affects the use of groundwater resources in southeastern Virginia.
Bayside Landing is a perimeter site of the inner-basin margin of the Chesapeake Bay impact crater. As part of the United States Geological Survey’s investigation of the crater, four drill holes were completed at Bayside Landing during the summer and fall of 1991. Core samples were taken from 170 feet to its greatest depth of 2,390 feet. The first hole drilled remains in use today as a water-level monitoring well by the VA Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Geological Survey.
A program entitled The Chesapeake Meteorite: Message from the Past was done at Bayside Landing in 2002 and was used as an electronic field trip for students all over Virginia. Teachers and school systems can still sign up to show the program at www.pwnet.org.