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Byrd Crabmeat, Crisfield

Maryland’s Eastern Shore is crab central. This area has been known for its crabbing history and harvests. Blue crabs are a must while dining in Maryland (unless you’re allergic to shellfish, like me).
I went to crab central earlier this week. Crisfield, Maryland… South-western point in Somerset County where it’s heaven for crabbers and fishermen. I’ve never visited Crisfield before and decided that I should since it’s only an hour away from my house and I’ve been living here for almost a year and half.
I’m glad that I visited. One of those towns that you have to visit at least once – just to check it out. I felt like I was in another world. The lifestyle is way slower than I’m accustomed to. No grocery stores or pharmacies ever block, only 1 gas station (called Puff’s Palace) in a 20 mile radius, and 2 stop lights on Main Street.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some really cool little places in Crisfield. I ventured inside of this large abandoned factory while visiting this tiny town…
This is the old Byrd’s Crabmeat factory. The last time crabs were canned in this waterfront building was during 2001 (based off of records found in the building). The Byrd crab company went international in 1995. Instead of harvesting and canning local Maryland blue crabs, the company decided to import their crabs from South East Asia. Bummer, right? I’m assuming that their outsourcing led to the closure of the site in Crisfield. Today, Byrd International headquarters is located 30 miles north in Salisbury, MD.
Pasteurization took place in this factory after the blue crabs were brought in off of the docks since the 1950’s. The crabmeat was canned in this building, as you can tell by the large pallets of empty crab cans in these pictures, and sent out to be delivered elsewhere.
Time cards still in place, rain boots still in lockers, and lots of empty crab cans everywhere. It's like this place was frozen in time and the workers just left (after overturning all of the canning tables). This was a rad place to explore. Sandi liked sniffing everything, too. Would be even nicer if the company wasn't international and chose to stay local instead.

Great trip to a new place. Loved wandering around Crisfield… not so sure I’ll be back to this little town anytime soon though, unless I want a good crabcake sandwich.

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  • Jim Byrd on

    Remember it well. Not directly my family. We did have the Crisfield hotel and Marylander and Herald paper though.

  • The Globe: Window Displays by Little Miss Lovely | Little Miss Lovely on

    […] local thrift shops, Globe coffee cups and tumblers, George’s Bloody Mary Mix, vintage cans from old crab meat, and bar ware. I added some sparkle to the window with a 15’ strand of lights covered in fabric […]

  • Ami Marie on

    Nan, Thanks for reading! I love this building and have visited many times. Thanks for passing along some knowledge about Byrd’s. What a great story! -Ami

  • Nan on

    Thank you for posting this, although it is so sad to see what was once a wonderfully active family business gone. It wasn’t for lack of trying – we struggled to stay alive, but imported products which could be sold more cheaply, coupled with the usury rates of the bank made it impossible. Byrd’s was started by my father who developed the pasteurization process that enabled anyone to enjoy blue crab meat – it kept fresh and bacteria free for months under simple refrigeration – without losing any of its distinctive flavor. If you buy anything now under the Byrd’s name, it certainly isn’t anything blue crab! Thank you for the memories!
    Nan Byrd Smith

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