Standing there in that peaceful setting looking out over the vast Chesapeake Bay, it’s hard to imagine that, at one time, Bayside was a bustling center of maritime activity.
Bayside Wharf, located in New Point (Mathews, VA), was established by the New Point Development Corporation (WC Handy, JE Davis, and WA Snow) in 1912 as a trading port for goods to/from Norfolk and Baltimore. The Wharf consisted of a ½ mile-long pier jetting out into the Chesapeake Bay, an ice/fish-packing plant run by Lionel Haywood in the mid 1900’s, a small store on the land that sold food, drinks and items watermen would use and even a dance hall where locals would come for entertainment. The Wharf had a narrow-guage railroad track with a cargo carrier that pulled the fresh fish from the boats to the ice plant onshore, where men would pack the fish with ice in crates of 100 lbs., then send the packed fish crates from the land back to the steamships in order to carry them to Baltimore and Norfolk.
Bayside had a tumultuous “life”. It burned twice, once in March of 1931 and again in March of 1933. That same year, like most wharves in the area, Bayside sustained a great deal of damage in the Storm of ’33, when residents saw a 12-foot wall of water overtake Mathews County. Before that time, there was another New Point wharf called Beach Wharf, located very near the New Point Lighthouse, which was attached to land with the lightkeeper’s house just next to it. The Storm of ’33 took the house, wharf and all the land around the lighthouse leaving it on an island.
Unlike Beach Wharf, Bayside was rebuilt and remained in operation until Hurricane Hazel wiped out the ice plant, store, dance hall and ½ mile-long commercial pier in October 1954, the remnants of which are still there today.