504 Main St., Reedville, Virginia
Overlooking a generous creek, this museum celebrates the maritime heritage of a proud historic town that remains one of the nation’s most active fishing ports. In addition to tracing the birth, rise, and influence of the local menhaden fishing industry, specializing in catch used for bait, it honors the men who have mined the waters of the Chesapeake Bay for centuries.
The main building features intricate models of Chesapeake Bay workboats; authentic tools used by the area’s watermen to harvest crabs, oysters, and wide-ranging fish; and detailed dioramas illuminating the trade, its practices, and its impact, from the earliest Native American fishermen to today’s dedicated purveyors.
Next door, the William Walker House—the oldest house still standing in Reedville, built in 1875—has been meticulously restored and appointed in the style of a typical waterman’s home at the turn of the century. The museum also offers educational programs and rotating exhibits, including a summer tribute to skipjacks—distinctive sailboats known for their seasonal races on the bay. Amateur and vicarious fishermen will delight in the gift shop, stocked with books of regional interest, crafts made by local artisans, prints, maps, and children’s toys. For a final treat, a walk on the museum’s deck offers views of the shimmering creek, still fished for its menhaden by modern fleets.
Open daily late Apr. – Oct.; Fri.-Sun. Nov. – late Dec.; Sat.-Sun. mid-Mar. – late Apr. Admission charged.