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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pink lions

Just outside a little town called Marion, four pink lions stand guard.

Marion is a little town about two miles from Crisfield.  Crisfield, as you may recall, was the seafood capital of the world around the turn of the last century.  Two miles up the road from Crisfield lay Marion, the strawberry capital of the world around the same time Crisfield claimed the seafood capital of the world title. 

Ok, let's time travel back to 1866.  John W. Crisfield, an attorney from the nearby city of Princess Anne (nearby being about seventeen miles away), recognized Somers Cove's potential as a major seafood port.  He was instrumental in bringing the Pennsylvania Railroad to Somers Cove.  Somers Cove was renamed Crisfield in recognition of the attorney's efforts and the prosperity his efforts brought to the area.

The railroad cut through Coulbourne Creek on its way to Crisfield.  A local, John C. Horsey, donated the land for the  right of way to the railroad and a station, which was named "Marion Station" after Mr. Horsey's daughter.  Coulbourne Creek was renamed Marion Station, which was shortened to the present day name of Marion.

Trains ran daily through Marion and on to Crisfield.  In Crisfield, the trains were loaded with fresh caught seafood and oysters and in Marion, the train cars were loaded with fresh strawberries.  The trains took the seafood and strawberries on to Salisbury and then all across the country and the world.  Crisfield earned the title of the seafood capital of the world and Marion earned the title of the strawberry capital of the world because of the quantity and quality of products the two cities produced.

By the 1950's, the Bay was dying and the trains stopped coming.  Both Marion and Crisfield began dying.  Marion's strawberry industry collapsed and some sources even declared Marion a ghost town afterwards.

Even though the trains had stopped running in the '50's, the railroad wasn't officially abandoned until 1976 when Conrail was established.  Shortly afterward, the steel rails were removed.  Before the rails were removed, Crisfield Highway, Route 413, was built.  The straight as an arrow - no, straighter than an arrow - two lane road ran parallel to the railroad tracks.  Today, one driving Crisfield highway would never notice the path of the old railroad tracks that brought so much prosperity to the area, but it is visible if you know what you are looking at.

Driving down the highway towards Crisfield, make a left just before the old railroad station in Marion. Now that you know on your left, as you head towards Crisfield, is the path of the old railroad tracks, when you enter the near ghost town of Marion, you'll recognize the building that was once a train station.  (In case you miss it, look for Route 667 on your left as you pass Marion.  Route 667 used to be Main Street through Marion and you can backtrack.)

If you make the left at the train station, you'll go about twenty yards to a stop sign.  Make a left at the stop sign.  This is Route 667, the old Main Street of Marion.  (If you missed the station and went a bit ways down to Route 667, make your left, backtrack to the stop sign by coming up behind the train station, and continue straight.)

As soon as you go past the stop signs, on your right you will see the saddest sight.  A majestic building, most likely a school, sits abandoned.  Its windows are busted out and the white marble steps that rise a good ten feet are cracked and weed filled.  The property is for sale, but its glory days are gone and forgotten.

Continue on straight for about a mile and as you round a curve, you'll see the pink lions standing guard to the entranceway of an old farmhouse.  Unlike the school and many other buildings in and around Marion, the farmhouse is well kept and lived in. 

We're sure those pink lions have a story to tell.  We wish we knew what it was.  Are they relics of a strawberry past?  Was this farm a major strawberry farm of yesteryear that now sits on empty fields as the family has found other sources of income?  Wouldn't it be cool if we could end this article right now with a fadeout song of Strawberry Fields Forever?

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

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