When one thinks of the Railroad we think of locomotives, railcars and railroad track but on the Eastern Shore the railroad had additional equipment stationed at Cape Charles and the equipment was a small flotilla of tugboats and barges used to haul railcars across the Chesapeake Bay. At it’s peak in World War Two the barges and floats were hauling a thousand railcars a day across the 36 miles of the Chesapeake bay.
In 1921 the NYP&N (New York, Pennsylvania and Norfolk Railroad, referred to as the “nip” and “n”) had; 9 tug Boats, 5 harbor lighters, 4 car floats, 10 bay barges, 3 passenger ferries, 1 gasoline boat, and 2 pile drivers. When NYP&N became PRR (Pennsylvania rail road) the equipment continued to increase. The line had a policy of naming their tugs for towns along the rail line. There were tugs named; Exmore Norfolk, Bloxom, Cheriton, Tasley and Delmar.
The tug “Delmar” was built in 1900 by the T. S. Marvel Company of Newburgh, New York. The tug was 122 ft long with a beam of 27 ft, powered by two steam engines, twin screws and carried a crew of 14. It was steel hulled with an ice-breaker bow and could operate in the shallow waters of Thimble shoals and the entrance to Cape Charles harbor.
Information from the book; “Cape Charles; a railroad town” by Jim Lewis and photo from the Eastern Shore library website.