Meet: Ben Tilghman, Board Emeritus
Ben Tilghman has long-time family ties to the Chesapeake Bay; his family has owned the same farm in Queen Anne’s County since the 1600s. Ben grew up outside of Boston, MA, but visited the farm with his family every summer from when he was four. He jokes that the only four times he ever missed the yearly trip to the farm were his four years spent in the Navy.
It was during these visits that Ben’s attachment to the Bay grew. He remembers his 18 foot aluminum duck boat with a ‘ratty outboard.’ He would grab a crab net and .22 rifle and spend the whole day exploring the tributaries of the Chester River–turn off the motor and listen to the locusts while daydreaming about a time when dinosaurs roamed the marshes. “These afternoons really personified what the Chesapeake Bay means to me.”
Ben felt such a strong connection to the area that he eventually relocated and took over the family farm. He first became involved with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum 10 years ago, and was elected to the Board in 2008. He jokes, “I was cornered by Gary Geffken at the very first cocktail reception. He asked me about a rumor he had heard, that I was good with engines.” The rumor was indeed true, and from then Ben has worked regularly with Gary on the antique motors powering CBMM’s Floating Fleet.
Because of his love of all things motors and mechanics, Ben has always been drawn to the Museum’s working Boatyard, and takes great pride that many of the boats in the Floating Fleet are still running. He firmly believes that the Boatyard, and its accompanying haul out railway system, is what distinguish CBMM from other museums.
Ben brings a “nuts and bolts” practicality to the Board. His work with engines has taught him the value of preventative maintenance, which he is a major proponent of. Ben appreciates that CBMM is preserving all aspects of Chesapeake Bay history, and loves the idea that CBMM is a living organization.
“It’s the people that make this place so special. I love coming here and talking to Museum guests while working in the Boatyard, and particularly enjoy watching guests interact with Shipwrights and Apprentices working in the boatshop. It’s just a fun place to be.”
CBMM would like to thank Ben for his time and dedication to the Museum!