WHAT IS NOW Ocean City, Md., was discovered by explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524. But its modern history dates to the 1870s, when a group of investors established the beach resort. Among those backers were several Philadelphians whose contributions are apparently saluted in the name of the town's main drag, Philadelphia Avenue.

A landmark dating back to that era is the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum, on the Boardwalk's southern end at 1st Street, in a two-story building that originally housed the local headquarters of the forerunner to the U.S. Coast Guard.

This compact, two-floor repository is keyed to the town's nautical past and contains everything from vintage rescue craft to a potpourri of items salvaged from ships that met a watery end.

One of the most interesting displays has dozens of surprisingly varied examples of sand from around the world.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday in April, May, October and November; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, June through September; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, December through March; $3, 410-289-4991, ocmuseum.org.

- Chuck Darrow