Michener’s Chesapeake follows the lives and fortunes of four families who both shaped and were shaped by the Eastern Shore. The village of Patamoke is a composite of several towns in the area, but the Choptank River and other sites are authentic. Spend a day tracing the real footsteps of James Michener and the fictional ones of the “Turlocks, Steeds, Paxmores and Caters”.
St Michaels is one of the towns that was incorporated into Patamoke. one of the National Trust For Historic Preservation’s Eleven Most Endangered Places for 2002. The Skipjack Rosie Parks is docked at the Chesapeake Bay Museum, currently being restored to her former glory, while the E.C. Collier is the focal point of the display called “Oystering on the Chesapeake,” which demonstrates the hard work of harvesting the bivalves.
Leaving St Michaels, look for Railroad Avenue. Michener lived in a house at the end of this street.
Easton: The original manuscript for the novel is kept at the Talbot County Free Library. The Third Haven Meeting House mentioned as the place the Quaker family Paxmore worshipped is located at 405 South Washington Street. It’s the oldest religious building in continuous use in the country.
Oxford: Michener wrote the original outline for the novel in the tavern of the Robert Morris Inn. He frequently ate there, and declared more than once that the crab cakes served at the Inn were the best on the Eastern Shore. Stop at Cutts and Case Shipyard to see Byeberry, the oldest house in Oxford, possibly dating to 1668, as well as several other historic homes. Visitors can watch workers build elegant wood yachts, combining traditional materials with state-of-the-art engineering and design.
Tilghman Island is a watermens community and is home to the Skipjacks, the Retrievers and the independent people who are more at home on the Bay than on its shores. Continue through town to Black Walnut Point. Park in the lot at the end of the road by the radar station and amble through the refuge, maintained by the Department of Natural Resources. It’s open 8am until 5pm daily. The view east across the Choptank River includes the spot where the fictional Devon Island was located.
James Michener lined in the Church Creek area outside of St Michaels while he was researching and writing his novel Chesapeake. During his time in the area in the late 70's, he was a familiar sight around town with his wife, Mari, Yoriko Sabusawa, gathering material for his book from the local residents and taking part in the social life of St Miochaels.