Salisbury, Maryland 1877

The Waterways And Immediate Area

The industrial center of Salisbury centered around the union of the Wicomico River and the Rail Road. The water falls at the Wicomico River provided power for wood and grist mills and thus giving Mill Street, which runs along the river, it's name.Steam power eventually won out as a power source and steam powered saw and planning mills developed at the river / railroad intersection. Mr. H. Humphreys ran a waterfall powered saw mill operated at the Wicomico Falls dam on the north prong of the river. The Jackson Brothers operated a steam powered lumber mill along Mill Street as well as A.C. Smith & Co. and M.E. Williams.

The waterway along Mill Street was boxed in by the dam at the North and a pivoting drawbridge, named appropriately "The Pivot Bridge" to the South. This waterway formed the North Prong of the Wicomico River. The present U.S. route 50 crosses the river several hundred feet north of the Pivot Bridge site.

Another prong of the river went East being crossed by a bridge at Camden Street and ending at another dam, holding back the waters of Humphreys Lake, which no longer exists. The mill dam on Humphreys Lake was located aproximately at the present site of the Wicomico County Library.

The dam on the north prong of the river created another lake called H. Humphreys Pond, which is known today as Johnsons Lake. The dam creating Johnsons Lake was relocated in the late 1930's a couple hundred yards north of the old site after several failures of the old dam.

The roadways atop the dams and bridges were important for 19th century Salisbury as it was divided by the river's forks. Commerce depended on traversing the river easily. Unfortunately the old earthen dam structures periodically failed taking with them the bridges down stream. With the coming of U.S. route 50 through Salisbury, a new bridge across the East prong of the river was created from Camden Avenue on the South side running North crossing Main Street and US 50 to Mill Street.

Grays New Map Of Salisbury, 1877

July 1997 George E. Richardson, III -