The railroad brought tourists to Ocean City in the early part of the 20th century and excursion trains made daily trips bringing hundreds of people to town each day. These folks would stroll the Boardwalk while some would rent bathing suits and spend a few hours on the beach.
There was no Ocean City Beach Patrol in those days and few people – particularly the ladies – knew how to swim. Long ropes ran from anchored positions on the beach to stakes about 20 yards out in the ocean and non-swimmers would hold onto the ropes as they ventured into the surf. This came to be known as “fanny-dipping” and can be seen in the photo above (circa 1908) beside the original Pier Pavilion on Wicomico Street.
Photo Courtesy of Julia A. Purnell Museum