The History of Ridgely

 

Town History

Unlike most towns, Ridgely did not “just grow” — it was planned before a single house was built. It was planned not as a country town, but as a city – a large, beautiful prosperous city, with a railroad to the north and the Choptank River to the south, laid out with wide streets and avenues, with parks and boulevards, factories and stores and a busy riverfront with docks and shipyards. It was a dream…a noble one.

Ridgely was founded in the post Civil War land speculation and railroad boom that rolled across the Delmarva Peninsula in the 1860′s. With the end of the Civil War, northern railroads were able to continue their expansion plans, and investors and merchants went looking for new markets and sources of supplies for the growing urban markets. More…

 

Ridgely House

Built in 1867 by one of the town’s founding fathers, James K. Saulsbury, the Ridgely House has a varied and interesting history. It was one of the first of four structures completed in 1867 by the Maryland and Baltimore Land Association who in the Spring of 1867 brought in Mr. J.J. Sickler, a Civil Engineer from Philadelphia, to lay out a plat of the city. Unlike most towns, Ridgely was planned before a single house was built. It was planned not as a country town, but as city laid out with wide streets and avenues, with parks and boulevards, factories and stores and a busy riverfront with docks and shipyards. With the plan completed, the Land Association began construction and the first year saw the erection of four buildings, including a railroad station, hotel and two private residences. One residence was constructed by James K. Saulsbury, and known today as the Ridgely House, first served as Mr. Saulsbury’s residence and general store. More…

 

Ridgely Railroad Station

The center and heart of the village was the railroad, which did not get as far as Ridgely until sometime in 1868. For several years before this, it did not extend below Greensboro where it was met by a stage from Easton. When the founders of Ridgely arrived on the scene, they entered into an agreement with the railroad company whereby the Land Association was to furnish the ties from Greensboro to Ridgely, and the railroad company lay the rails. The result was that the little village soon found itself possessing the dignity of a railroad center, which was a matter of primary importance to an inland community nearly one hundred miles distant from both Baltimore and Philadelphia. More…

 

Fountain in the Park

The Forget-Me-Not Band of Mercy was an organization of young ladies that formed about the time World War I began. They were a humane, patriotic group of young ladies who wanted to do something for the community that would be long lasting and beneficial. In those days, the town roads were dirty and dusty with most of the traffic being wagons and carts pulled by mules and horses. There was also an abundant dog population in those days, and the young ladies decided upon a fountain that would serve the human population as well as horses, mules and dogs. More…