The World's Mine Oyster
Join the Warwick County Historical Society on Wednesday, November 15, at 11:30 a.m. for the last Speaker Series event of the year – The World’s Mine Oyster. Heather North, Virginia oyster restoration specialist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, offers insights about the Chesapeake Bay oyster wars as well as information about oyster populations and oyster gardening seminars with examples of live oysters from area waters.
At the turn of the 19th century, oystering was a highly lucrative and competitive trade. A train depot known as Oyster Point was established in the late 1800s to ship agricultural produce, lumber and seafood harvested from local waterways, which were some of the most productive oyster grounds in the state. Bushels of oysters, crabs and fish caught in the Warwick were packed in special barrels with ice at the Deep Creek landing and carried by horse-drawn wagons to the rail junction at Oyster Point for transport to either the Hampton processing houses or to major U.S. cities. The path traveled by the wagons began at the river, and went along Deep Creek and Menchville Roads to Nettles Drive (old Rt. 60) to the main line of the C&O for shipment west. The result was that shellfish dredged in the morning and rushed by train, might be on someone's dinner plate in a New York or Baltimore restaurant that evening, still fresh and succulent. It is no accident that both the road and the station were named Oyster Point.
However, over-harvesting of the oyster grounds began resulting in reduced yields and State regulations were put in place limiting catches and requiring periods of time to allow seed beds to mature, a process. Warwick fishermen continued to work their traditional waters, but the entire industry changed. The Oyster Point station experienced such a decline in use that both it and the post office closed on July 1, 1955. Although oystering is a lesser enterprise in Newport News these days, the modern city's central commercial, governmental and technological area -- Oyster Point -- derives its name from the former shell lined road that once led to the depot.
Learn about the history of oystering in Hampton Roads at this lecture taking place in the 1884 Courthouse at 14421 Old Courthouse Way in Newport News. The event begins at 11:30 with lunch, and guests may bring their own or order a $10 box lunch in advance. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information or to order a boxed lunch, call 757-525-7372.