Step Back in History

  • Visit Furnace Town
  • Visit the Julia A. Purnell Museum
  • Walk Snow Hill’s Historic District
  • Explore local cemeteries
  • Research your roots at the Worcester County Library Pitts Collection and the Nabb Center at Salisbury University

Town History

Established in 1686 by English settlers, the town is named for a district in London. The small settlement located on the banks of the mysterious and dark Pocomoke River, where bald cypress trees lined its bank and colored its waters. The town grew and prospered as the waterway fostered commerce and farming flourished in the surrounding area. With a temperate climate and rich farm land, the area was known for its agriculture. In 1694, the town was designated a royal port by William and Mary of England.

When the Houses of Assembly carved Worcester County out of Somerset County in 1742, Snow Hill was established as the county seat of government. In 1793 the town was platted into some 1000 lots. It was involved in the American Revolutionary War and in June of 1775, it adopted resolutions to aid and support the colonists in Massachusetts. Local records were hidden during the War of 1812. Both Northern and Southern sympathies were evident during the War Between the States.

As steamboats replaced schooners, Snow Hill continued as an active port, carrying passengers and goods to the Western Shore. Trade was the engine that drove the economy in the town. Churches, schools, hotels and boarding houses sprang up, along with lumber companies that dominated the waterfront. Stores for general merchandise, liveries, coopers, smiths, and wagon makers all took their living from the traffic on the river.

Snow Hill became an attractive place for craftsmen who prospered from their local trade as well as from their proximity to the river. Their ability to import and export goods and materials on the river allowed them to build remarkable dwellings. Snow Hill was known as a town of gracious living where merchants, bankers, farmers and sea captains could show off their wealth and fine homes.

1893 marked a disastrous fire that destroyed Snow Hill's original downtown area and the early records of the town and county that were housed in the Courthouse. While the downtown business district was destroyed by the fire, many historic homes and public buildings remained, including some pre-Revolutionary War structures which are carefully preserved by Snow Hill residents today.

Snow Hill is surrounded by rich farmland which has served to support the economy of the area throughout its history. The river also served as a major highway for trade in the early days of the town. Today small shops, galleries, and museums grace the downtown area.

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