The U.S. Life-Saving Service was a coastal rescue system established by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the purpose of saving distressed vessels and their occupants at sea. The first installation in Maryland was located in the dunes near the northern end of Ocean City, Maryland some time around 1881.
By 1891, activity had increased to the point where a larger space was required to house the growing agency, and the present museum building was constructed to meet that need. In 1915, the U.S. Coast Guard was formed through the merger of the U.S. Life-Saving Service with the Revenue Cutter Service. The Coast Guard occupied the building until 1964, when they moved into a newly-constructed building near the inlet. The abandoned building sat unused for 13 years and was nearly demolished. But a group of citizens formed the Ocean City Museum Society and raised funds to save the building that had housed so many dedicated life-savers from a date with the wrecking ball.
Flanked by a large tower that stands like a sentinel at the southern tip of the boardwalk, the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum gives visitors a chance to dive deep in to the history of the U.S. Life-Saving Service and a bit of local history and culture. Permanent exhibits include the original USLSS log book, physical artifacts from the USLSS, historical elements from the Ocean City Boardwalk, a collection of sand from beaches all over the world, and a display dedicated to surfing and its history in Ocean City, as well as a self-guided tour of all of the rooms that make up the museum.
Be sure to check out the outdoor exhibits, which include a 2.5-ton anchor saved from a shipwreck in 1870 that is believed to be the largest on the east coast, as well as the largest fish ever caught in the state of Maryland: a 1,210-pound tiger shark that was reeled in during a tournament by Grace Czemiak of Buffalo, New York. The shark was so large that it had to be transported to a poultry complex in Showell, Maryland to be weighed on scales designed to accommodate tractor trailers.
Know Before You Go
The museum is open seven days a week May through October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays November through April from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.