The Secret’s Out

Author Jim Duffy shares why even after two books on the subject, he’s still fascinated by explorations of the Shore

Written by Joe Willey
Photography by Jill Jasuta

Jim Duffy knows Delmarva. Creator of the Secrets of the Eastern Shore website and author of the popular Eastern Shore Road Trips books, he writes and speaks with an exuberance and knowledge that puts all but the most hardened local historians to shame. His clear eye for the beauty and stories of the area not only fuels the passions of tourists but fascinates residents,
as well.

Originally from Chicago, Duffy moved to Baltimore, where he worked as a writer for Maryland magazines. The move was significant. There, he not only met his wife and collaborator/ photographer, Jill Jasuta, but was given an assignment that took him to Tilghman Island to produce a story on the skipjack Rebecca T. Ruark. Somewhere near where the mouth of the Choptank River and the Chesapeake Bay meet, his interest in the Eastern Shore grew into a fascination.

Cambridge Creek

In 2004, Duffy and Jasuta moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Only after the move and taking time to steep in the subtly beautiful landscape and spending unhurried time with locals did he begin to understand “how unique the culture really is.” Its uniqueness continues to inspire
him today.

What is it that drives Duffy outside to explore this distinctly rural peninsula? He answers quickly. “It’s beautiful,” he noted with a lilt of appreciation in his voice. He then thoughtfully reminded that “though it looks like it’s timeless and unchanging, the landscape has evolved,” a point that his books and their warm storytelling make consistently clear.

Elliott’s Island Road

The inscription in some of the signed copies of the Eastern Shore Road Trips books is direct.
“Get out and go!” he often writes. After even a cursory reading, that admonition inspires the once uninterested to become amateur explorers and historians looking for their own unique experiences and memories — not for a weekend but for decades.

Do you know Delmarva as well as Jim Duffy? Maybe not. But as it was with him, an interest can be born by simply getting out and going. The beauty and stories crowd around anyone who comes to Delmarva for a visit, as well as those who call it home.

Jim Duffy’s Top 5 Locations to Start Exploring the Shore

1. Exploring the Backroads: Saxis Island, VA
Sweet scenery on the long run into a real-deal watermen’s town with a down-home restaurant, a tiki bar and a fun local-history museum.

2. Exploring History: The Harriet Tubman Byway
Wander in the footsteps of Tubman and other Underground Railroad heroes in 40-plus stops on the Upper Eastern Shore of Maryland and in Delaware.

3. Exploring a Small Town: Cambridge
A plug for the author’s hometown, with its rising restaurant, cocktail and beer scene — and be sure to find the trompe l’oeil Harriet Tubman mural behind 424 Race Street.

4. Beaches: The Delaware Bay Tour
Escape the crowds at lesser known beaches above Lewes — Prime Hook Beach, Fowler Beach, Slaughter Beach and then the beach at Bowers, where you will also find a sweet, old fishing town.

5. Outdoors: Caroline County Gems
Get to know the local landscape by hiking along the creeks at Tuckahoe State Park and Adkins Arboretum in Caroline County, MD.