Dynamic Sustainability: Maryland's Atlantic Coast

Photo of ponies on Assateague Island


Ocean City and Assateague Island

Dynamic Sustainability: Shoreline Management on Maryland's Atlantic Coast

1934-1962, Ocean City Urbanizes While Assateague Island Reverts to Wilderness

Ocean City

By 1934 white marlin had been found offshore of Ocean City and sport fishing quickly became a key component of the town's tourism-based economy. Activity slowed down during World War II, and U-boat activity by the Germans had deadly consequences off the coast of Ocean City. To protect commercial ships in the area, a "dim-out" of all lights was ordered in the town.

After the war, Ocean City experienced a boom period. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge opened in 1952, making the town easily accessible for East Coast residents. Concurrently, an increasingly affluent population had time to vacation These combined factors led to increasing numbers of tourists visiting Ocean City.

Beach erosion became an important issue at this time, precisely because more tourists meant the integrity of the beach was increasingly necessary. The groin building that had begun in the 1920s picked up in the mid 1950s, and dune building was started to protect the town's highway.

In March 1962, a severe northeaster struck the town. It lasted for a period of five high tides, resulting in its name, the Five-High Storm, and the large storm surge damaged many buildings and opened a temporary inlet in the north section of town. The Corps was called in to implement emergency measures to close the breach and repair the eroded shoreline. Sand from the bays was used to reconstruct the dune, berm, and beach. These actions were successful and the resort was open for the summer season in 1962.

More: Ocean City | Ocean City Inlet | Assateague

Reviewed 27 Sep 2016

Ocean City on Fenwick Island

Ocean City on Fenwick Island
Source: IAN Image Library

Beach Nourishment

After the Five-High Storm, the Corps turned to emergency beach nourishment to mitigate erosion damages.