J. S. Darling Oyster Plant
Queen Street, Hampton, VA


1912 - "200,000 Bushels of Oyster Shell, Hampton, VA"   "200,000 Bushels of Oyster Shell, Hampton, VA - This huge mountain of oyster shells adjoins one of the large oyster packing plants. It forms one of the objects of interest to all tourists." "A mound of oystershells stood near Queen Street at the J. S. Darling oyster plant and boat works on Hampton River.  It disappeared after World War 2, when the plant ceased."
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 03/11/04
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 08/22/04
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 08/22/04
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 09/06/04
  1960 Krabba vasc.org/images/dhdp.jpg downtownhampton.com/boating.html
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 08/22/04
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 08/25/04
 Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64)
of VA - 08/22/04

Virginia Oyster Heritage Program - http://www.deq.state.va.us/oysters/

Hampton Event Makers Calendar - "Oyster Alley" - http://www.hamptoneventmakers.com/calendar.htm

Dave found the Magic Key to the oysters with this captioned image (first row, last on right).
At last the page has a proper name: J. S. Darling Oyster Plant
Thanks, David! Nobody does it better.

- Carol Buckley Harty ('65) of NC - 09/06/04

Captain Dave works his magic once again. To think there is a market for oyster shells.
They were certainly plentiful in our Old Stomping Grounds, and they surely would take your breathe away.

- Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 09/06/04
Giggles!  Thanks, Joe!

As I attended elementary school (4/5/6 grade) in MD, we learned all about marine life, especially crabs and oysters.
The value of old oyster shells is to return them to the oyster beds for the young larval oysters (spat) to attach themselves.
It was an investment on ensuring future harvests.
Unfortunately, efficient dredging methods, farm and factory run-off, and insatiable demand for the bivalves
all but extincted the species from the Chesapeake bay and it estuaries.

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 09/06/04
AHA!  Thanks, Dave!

Thanks for the oyster shell education. I was not aware they were placed back in the beds. My rhetorical question was
prompted by a firm in Pittsburgh that dredged in Lake Ponchitrain so the oyster shells could be ground up for road beds
in Louisiana. When I was with INA we bonded this firm, who at one time had the largest inland shipyard in the world.
They had a massive organization that produced aggregate for road construction. They were finally stopped from dredging
the lake by enactment of a law in LA that prohibited such harvesting.
While we are on the subject of oyster shells, do you remember the experiment of the North Carolina DOT in painting
sea gulls on the highway between Buxton and Kill Devil. The gulls would fly up over the highway and drop an oyster or
clam from their beak to crack the shell.
The shells were a road hazard, cutting motorist tires. It worked for a couple of weeks until the sea gulls figured out what
was happening, and resumed dropping their catch on the highway to crack their shells.

- Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 09/06/04
Thanks again, Joe!

Carol, thanks for solving MY mystery. Here are a few more facts:

The pile was still in place into the 1960s. If you think back to when Queen Street had a bridge that went over to Hampton Institute
and Phoebus, there were lovely homes on the left (that site is called PeeDee Point) and the streets included Academy Street,
Massenburg Lane and Bank Street. It was also the site of the original Hampton public school that later became a Hampton museum.
If those homes were standing today, they would be worth over $500,000. They were huge Victorians.

Now, looking to the right just before crossing the bridge, you would have seen the piles of oyster shells.
The McMenniman and Darling families were both involved in the sea food industry.
MeMenniman was a crabber, Darling an oyster man.
Neither did the physical work; they owned beds (licensed still by the state) and paid the watermen who actually harvested the catch.
Darling's business also included a marine railway. This is a massive above ground structure with an arm that went out over a slip,
cradled a hull then withdrew, taking the vessel back into the structure so its bottom would be worked on, coppered or repaired, on dry land.
The name railway came from the track involved in the arm. There were 2 railways, allowing work on hulls of different sizes.
I believe the largest they would haul was 43'. This meant they could lift the Chesapeake Bay dead rise boats the oystermen used.
They could haul smaller, pleasure boats on the smaller railway.
I can remember a 6th grade friend whose dad was a dentist and the owner of a 35' cabin cruiser.
She took me to Darling's one day to see their boat on the railway (or maybe to prove to me that her dad had such a boat?)

James S. Darling was a founder of Hampton.
His original home was second in from the corner of Armistead and Victoria, a huge Victorian built of wood in about 1900.
After some years, my ex-husband's grandfather (who had a lumber and sash factory on PeeDee Point)
built his home (a large,stately brick Georgian) at the corner of Victoria and Wriothesly. Both homes still stand.
Mr. Darling felt that Mr. Slaughter's home blocked the view he had enjoyed of the river.
So he purchased the land beyond Mr. Slaughter's, named it Cedar Point, and built a massive stone home he called Cedar Hall.
Darling Stadium is named for him.
His son was a musician who became world renowned for his harpsichord mastery and was the
resident musician at Colonial Williamsburg for forty'leven years. (That's the way my grandmother always said it.)
Jock, as he was called, was also the organist at Bruton Parish.

I know of no one who knows the origin of the name PeeDee Point.
William Claiborne, one of the original settlers in Hampton, lived there and had some sort of business there
and there is speculation that his business had some name that locals abbreviated to "PD".
However, in all publications mentioning the land, it is called PeeDee.
It is the current site of the City's small amphitheatre and some waterfront condos called Mill Point.
My ex's grandfather's mill, opened in 1908, moved to Phoebus in the teen years of the century.
Frank Maida took over the mill buildings and opened a technical instrument plant,
which also later moved to Phoebus to make room for the redevelopment of downtown.
Maida is still in business and supplies high quality instruments world wide.

- Kathy Pilgrim Clark ('63) of VA - 09/08/04
WOWZERS!  Thanks, Kathy!

Take My Breath Away


Watching every motion
In my foolish lover's game
On this endless ocean
Finally lovers know no shame
Turning and returning
To some secret place inside
Watching in slow motion
As you turn around and say

Take my breath away
Take my breath away

Watching I keep waiting
Still anticipating love
Never hesitating
To become the fated ones
Turning and returning
To some secret place to hide
Watching in slow motion
As you turn to me and say

Take my breath away
Take my breath away

Through the hourglass I saw you
In time you slipped away
When the mirror crashed I called you
And turned to hear you say
If only for today
I am unafraid

Take my breath away
Take my breath away

Watching every motion
In this foolish lover's game
Haunted by the notion
Somewhere there's a love in flames
Turning and returning
To some secret place inside
Watching in slow motion
As you turn my way and say

Take my breath away
Take my breath away

"Take My Breath Away" midi courtesy of http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Woods/7822/take.html,
at the suggestion of Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 08/20/04, and the kind assistance of my #5 son, Nathaniel Harty of IL - 08/23/04.
Thanks, Joe - and Nathaniel!

 "Take My Breath Away" lyrics courtesy of http://www.romantic-lyrics.com/lt1.shtml,
at the suggestion of Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 08/20/04
Thanks again, Joe!

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