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Home > About the Chesapeake > Places and People > Bay Journal Articles
Bay Journal Articles

Bay Journal, a monthly newspaper focusing on diverse Chesapeake Bay issues regularly profiles a Chesapeake Bay Gateway. Read the stories of these special places below - and consider ordering a free subscription to Bay Journal!

  • Richardson Museum building Cambridge's future by capturing its past (November 2010) - The corner of Hayward and Maryland avenues in Cambridge, MD, is not quiet.
  • Point Lookout a gateway to Bay's Civil War history, perhaps the great beyond (October 2010) - Volunteer Ranger Bob Cricwkenberger is a man of facts and action. His track record at Point Lookout State Park in Maryland makes that clear.
  • Wye Grist Mill still keeping its nose to the grindstone (September 2010) - When the water wheel moves at the Wye Grist Mill, the entire building feels the rhythm. The millstones whirl and rumble. The floorboards hum underfoot.
  • The Maryland Wilderness shows visitors it's a zoo out there in their own backyards (June 2010) - Ever since he was born two years ago, a visit to the Maryland Zoo has become all about the baby elephant.
  • Diversity of resources at Riverbend has attracted visitors for millenia (May 2010) - An uplifted face, hewn from the wooden top of a modern-day totem pole, basks in the sun. It faces east, where the morning light floods through a wall of windows at the Riverbend Park Visitors Center. It also faces the river.
  • From ancient sharks to modern menaces, museum educates, entertains all ages (April 2010) - When you're running a museum that welcomes more than 70,000 visitors a year, hosts rock stars such as Bob Dylan, and relies on staff members to catch the sea nettles and puffers on display, it's important to have a sense of humor.
  • Eastern Neck Island's marshes a magnet for winter waterfowl (February 2010) - William Dixon made his first approach to Eastern Neck Island in 1923, on the edge of a nor'easter. But it wasn't the storm that impressed him.
  • Lose yourself in Marshy Point's beauty-but first you have to find it (January 2010) - The Marshy Point Nature Center isn't exactly off the beaten track, but it's not that easy to stumble upon, either.
  • Migratory geese find sanctuary at Merkle; visitors will, too (December 2009) - There's a daily migration along a small stretch of the Patuxent River each winter-an airborne echo of a much longer, annual journey for thousands of Canada geese.
  • 1 million years of geology & 15,000 years of human history (November 2009) - The eagle, in a steep, elegant dive toward the watery field of lotus plants, would have been enough.
  • Meander through habitats lost in time along Parkers Creek (October 2009) - The day is fading. Minnows launch themselves across the surface of the water like tiny skipping stones that vanish with a silver flash. Eagles shift position between the trees.
  • Anglers throughout the region are hooked on Smallwood's diversity (June 2009) - The entrance to Smallwood State Park was rerouted years ago, with one goal in mind-to answer the call of the river.
  • Get lost on a river left almost as John Smith found it (May 2009) - Like an inverted tree with its roots gaining nourishment from the wetlands of Sussex and Kent counties in Delaware and Maryland's Dorchester County, the Nanticoke River flows through the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland and blends with the waters of Tangier Sound 50 meandering miles to the south.
  • From canoes and schooners to skipjacks and kayaks... Choptank River has carried them all (April 2009) - Traffic jams on the Choptank River aren't what they used to be.
  • Baltimore Museum of Industry shows city's can-do spirit (March 2009) - For a fleshy, faceless little creature, the Chesapeake's native oyster gets a lot of attention. It's a seafood delicacy, a pollution filter and an embattled Bay icon.
  • Solitude awaits those willing to leave Leesylvania's waterfront (January 2009) - The Potomac River at Virginia's Leesylvania State Park has drawn humans for centuries. Most of them, regardless of the time period, have come for similar reasons: to escape the summer heat, fish or ride the river. While the latter two activities once focused on providing food and income, today's visitors come mostly for fun.
  • Piscataway Park's role evolved from saving a view to sharing a point of view (December 2008) - To experience Piscataway Park on the eastern shore of the Potomac River, prepare to park twice.
  • U.S. anthem, flag aren't the only stars at Fort McHenry (November 2008) - Bring home your local Olympians-including Michael Phelps-and what could be more patriotic than to parade them toward historic Fort McHenry, birthplace of the national anthem?
  • Jug Bay Natural Area highlights ties between humans, wetlands (October 2008) - It's early autumn on Jug Bay, where the wetlands cast a majestic presence across the full width of the Patuxent River. From the high ground of the Jug Bay Natural Area in Prince Georges County, MD, the view is spectacular.
  • Bay's boat-building, maritime heritage in shipshape at museum (September 2008) - Around 6:30 one Tuesday evening, men began trickling into the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum. Carrying a plastic bucket of personal tools, each had come to learn and teach the knowledge of wooden boat-building.
  • Migrating birds have long known that VA’s Eastern Shore refreshes a body (July/August 2008) - It is the fascinating concept of the Eastern Shore funneling millions of songbirds and thousands of raptors toward its southernmost tip that lures me. Every fall, the birds bottleneck here, resting and replenishing before executing the long flight across the open water of the Chesapeake as they head south.
  • Sultana setting a course for Chesapeake Bay appreciation (June 2008) - Fourth graders from Ridgely Elementary School in Ridgely, MD, squinted skyward at the large canvas sail flapping above their heads.
  • History, nature compete for attention during visit to First Landing State Park (May 2008) - I'm thinking hard about those first vulnerable colonists who sailed across the Atlantic in 1607 as I cross the 23-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. I struggle to keep our pick-up truck, laden with bicycles and sea kayaks in my designated lane as I keep stealing glances at the startlingly wide Bay and the 4-foot swells smashing against the pylons.
  • Aquarium immerses visitors in watery habitats, including a few close to home (March 2008) - Sharks circle through the tank with beady, watchful eyes.
  • Freedom takes on new meaning after trip to Underground Railroad sites (February 2008) - A yellow dog sleeps in the dirt under the Bucktown Store overhang. The sky is a deep blue. Except for a fly buzzing around the dog's head, all is peaceful. But as I step across the worn threshold of the door jam, visibly dipped and smoothed where thousands have placed their feet while entering, my mind whizzes back to the 1830s.
  • Bay played role as Douglass, Myers strove to turn tide against prejudice (December 2007) - At the eastern end of Fells Point, where the river widens into the Baltimore harbor, a young boy once "sat on a cellar door and studied his spelling books."
  • Steamboat museum takes visitors on a trip to another era (November 2007) - To those who daydream about the early days of travel and commerce on the Chesapeake, the steamboat era conjures up tales of adventure.
  • Take a walk on the wild side of Baltimore on Gwynns Falls Trail (October 2007) - In a small glen near a winding Baltimore road, a waterwheel sits in the woods.
  • Taste of Juniata River trail leaves one thirsty to paddle the entire watershed (September 2007) - As I dip my paddle into the waters of the Juniata River, I try to imagine what it would be like to accompany its waters on their sinuous path all the way to the sea. We'd wind around a jumble of ridges seeking the shortest, least resistant path to the Susquehanna River. We'd pass impressive mountains that shoot straight up from the river bottomlands and are covered in talus, like Jack Narrows before me. We'd cut through a chaotic tangle of topography where, from the air, the land looks like its been traumatized by geological forces.
  • From history to habitats, visitors have much to learn from York River State Park (July/August 2007) - Nestled between rural homesteads, soybean fields and the loblollies that cradle the York River around 10 miles northwest of Williamsburg, modern explorers will find one of Virginia’s spectacular natural achievements: York River State Park.
  • Rappahannock water trail will quench any thirst for a river adventure (June 2007) - Downstream from an inconspicuous slide put-in at Kelly’s Ford, roughly 30 miles upstream of Fredericksburg, the Rappahannock River gently meanders through 17 miles of fertile cropland, forest and wildlife management area before joining the Rapidan at the Confluence, a popular recreational hangout.
  • George Washington's boyhood roots revealed at Ferry Farm (April 2007) - Scalloped edges created by split-rail fencing cast a decidedly colonial atmosphere at George Washington’s Ferry Farm in the heart of Fredericksburg, VA. On a blustery day in early March, the fence gives way to the pale yellow hues of dormant fescue grass waving across expansive pastures.
  • Virginia Living Museum's visitors find themselves surrounded by wildlife (December 2006) - It hardly seemed a likely place for a walk on the wild side. Yet in the distance of three-quarters of a mile, the elevated boardwalk led visitors through coastal plain wetlands to mountain bobcat hideouts. Walking above streams and wetlands, and under towering trees, it was hard to believe that this was the middle of a major metropolitan area.
  • Rappahannock River Valley refuge's habitats as diverse as its stewards (November 2006) - Conserving land and wildlife habitat is always a challenge, but managers at the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge consider their Virginia refuge one of the lucky ones.
  • Interpreters help visitors bring Historic St. Mary's City back to life (October 2006) - Godiah Spray, a 17th century plantation master in St. Mary’s City, MD, was having a bit of trouble with his 21th century guests.
  • Occoquan refuge's splendor is in its grasslands (September 2006) - On a scorching summer day at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the white hibiscus flowers hovering above the marsh appear to glow in the heat.
  • C&O; Canal transports visitors to early days of shipping (July/August 2006) - “To subdue the earth”—this was the “pre-eminent” purpose of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, said President John Quincy Adams as he wielded a shovel at groundbreaking ceremonies in 1828.
  • Bridges of Monacacy span history as well as scenic river (June 2006) - Over the years, many bridges have crossed the curving path of the Monocacy River in Frederick County, MD. One of them, which a New York teenager put to flame on a hot July afternoon, helped to save the nation’s capitol.
  • Life on Smith Island ebbs and flows to a rhythm all its own (May 2006) - If you want to see Smith Island within the confines of one day, it can certainly be done. But you might be missing something.
  • Reedville Fishermen's Museum pays tribute to both present, past (April 2006) - Chuck Backus, a man with Midwestern roots, is clearly enthusiastic about his new job. Six months ago, he arrived in the small fishing village of Reedville, VA, which extends into the Chesapeake Bay on a narrow strip of land at the southern tip of Virginia’s Northern Neck—a peninsula at the end of a peninsula.
  • Its fast ships may be gone, but Fells Point hasn't slowed down one bit (March 2006) - On the corner of Thames Street, in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood, 18th-century brick was seeing the light of day once more.
  • Adkins Arboretum transforms landscape into works of art (February 2006) - “Art is a harmony parallel with nature.”
  • Pemberton Plantation prevails amid winds of time (December 2005) - The walls are not made of hay bales, the roof is not covered with vegetation, and there are no solar panels to be found. But 18-century Pemberton Hall is still the work of a designer who built with natural processes in mind.
  • Piscataway Park, rooted in farming of past, sows seeds for future (November 2005) - In 1955, it looked as if visitors to Mount Vernon would soon be standing on the grounds of George Washington’s historic estate and gazing across the Potomac River to the churning grounds of an oil tank farm or sewage treatment plant.
  • Decoys only one of many attractions to lure visitors to Havre de Grace (October 2005) - Long before there was a town at Havre de Grace, the area was flush with winged residents who knew a great location when they saw one.
  • Power flows through, is drive behind exhibits at Nauticus (September 2005) - Few places can weave a common thread around a diverse set of attractions that allow visitors to touch a live shark, react to an attack in a destroyer’s command center, design a ship to haul cargo around the world, or get up close to the massive 16-inch gun on the deck of a battleship.
  • Paddle into Pennsylvania’s past on West Branch water trail (July/August 2005) - Floating down the river, there was no sign of civilization. Rolling hills could be seen all around, but there were no houses. Hawks flew overhead and an Eastern wood-pewee sang in the forest. But there were no planes. The rushing sound of the river filled the air. But there were no roads, trucks or cars nearby.
  • Elementary students having a ball participating in reef project (July/August 2005) - School may be out for the summer, but some Eastern Shore elementary students have decided that class will continue at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center.
  • Nassawango’s furnace - and forest - rising from the ruins (June 2005) - In 1832, a towering brick furnace burns at the edge of a swamp. Molten iron pours from spouts in its base. At the top, orange flames rise from the chimneys 24 hours a day. The light can be seen for miles.
  • Support for Gateways Network grows; 7 new sites added (June 2005) - The National Park Service director, during a recent trip to Annapolis, indicated that there is continued support for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network but stopped short of endorsing a new National Park focused on the Bay.
  • Where eagles come to roost (May 2005) - Every year from April 1 until Sept. 30, the longest trail at Caledon Natural Area is closed to hikers.
  • Huge wetland restoration touted for Blackwater (April 2005) - Standing near the water’s edge at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, John Gill pointed to a small island far offshore, in the middle of what appeared to be a large lake. A lake, he says shouldn’t be there, and which he wants to make go away.
  • Sotterley's 'quaint' reputation built on architecture, family lore (April 2005) - Snow was melting from the roof of the cabin. It cruised down the slope and fell in rhythmic drips to the earth. There, the water sank into a narrow cradle of pebbles that ran the length of the cabin walls.
  • Eagle-eyed birders will find plenty to see at Blackwater (January 2005) - It’s an Osprey Cam—no, wait, it’s an Eagle Cam. But in a short few months, it will be an Osprey Cam again.
  • Museum lets visitors immerse themselves in life in, on, along water (November 2004) - The sound of the 1,400-pound fog bell comes from a small cassette player, but it makes a strong impression on everyone who tours the Drum Point Lighthouse at the Calvert Marine Museum. Even at its prerecorded level, the bell is loud. Very loud. And lasting. The low-toned vibrations never fade completely before the next round begins. Two strikes, every 15 seconds.
  • Curiosities at the root of Battle Creek Swamp’s charm (September 2004) - Talk swamp these days with anyone under the age of 12 and the conversation will likely lead to Shrek country, where the happy green ogre of movie fame keeps house smack in the heart of his beloved swamp. While an ogre sighting is unlikely, real world swamps still offer plenty of curiosities for explorers of all ages. Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, a remnant of ancient swampland in Calvert County, MD, is no exception.
  • Stratford Hall Plantation rich in natural, political history (June 2004) - Thomas Lee, an 18th century politician and businessman in colonial Virginia, knew the value of land and had an eye for opportunity. And the “clifts” on the south shore of the Potomac River had captured his attention.
  • Tiny St. Clement’s Island awash in Maryland history (May 2004) - “Never have I beheld a larger or more beautiful river. Fine trees appear, not choked with briars or bushes and undergrowth but growing at intervals as if planted by the hand of men so that you can drive a four horse carriage whereever you choose, through the midst of trees.” - Father Andrew White, writing from the mouth of the Potomac River, 1634
  • The Dove: Ship’s fortunes often rested on a wing and a prayer (May 2004) - Religious persecution has led to more than one colonial settlement in the New World. Despite their own experience back home though, colonists, once they arrived here, had no qualms about converting Native Americans to Christianity, usually with the stipulation, “love it or leave.”
  • Bay’s Beacons (April 2004) - When early explorers visited the Chesapeake, they reported finding a bay so beautiful and productive that they tried to catch fish in a frying pan. But they also found the shallow estuary a navigational nightmare.
  • London Town being reconstructed from the grounds up (December 2003) - As archaeologists labored to peel back layers of earth, a small brown stain rose to the surface like a long-buried scar. It was the footprint of a small, disintegrated coffin, in the last place anyone expected to find it.
  • Nature preserve, trail 2 parks join Bay Gateways Network (December 2003) - Four sites have joined the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network—Patapsco Valley State Park, the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail and Parkers Creek Watershed Nature Preserve in Maryland and Great Bridge Lock Park in Virginia.
  • Mason Neck a year-round paradise for eagle-eyed birders (November 2003) - The right place, at the right time:
  • Once the enemy, Sultana now a friend of the Chesapeake (September 2003) - Sometime in the mid-1760s, Sir Thomas Asquith contracted with a noted Boston shipwright, Benjamin Hollowell, to build a fast schooner, a relatively new type of ship that was gaining in popularity. She would serve in trade and as his personal yacht. He named her Sultana.
  • Fort Washington provides peaceful setting just outside D.C. (July/August 2003) - The year was 1814, and 49 troops with a half-dozen cannon manned a fort along the Potomac River, just 9 miles downstream of the young nation’s capital.
  • Past keeps cropping up along remote York River Water Trail (June 2003) - At a Native American village along the banks of the York River nearly 400 years ago, an Englishman was brought before Chief Powhatan, leader of 30 local tribes, to face judgment.
  • National Wildlife Refuges celebrating 100th anniversary (January 2003) - March 14, 2003 marks a milestone in the history of wildlife conservation in America — the centennial anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The National Wildlife Refuge System is the United State’s only network of federal lands dedicated specifically to conserving wildlife and protecting our wild heritage.
  • Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area a hidden haven for wildlife, humans (January 2003) - Only minutes away from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, it’s possible to take a hike through ancient woods among endangered species and have the air filled with the honking of Canada geese — not car horns.
  • Visitors of all species flock to Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge (December 2002) - Day in and day out, thousands of drivers cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on the way to Maryland’s Eastern Shore and marvel at the panoramic view as the distant shoreline gets closer and closer.
  • The Bay, outdoor adventures start at Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks (October 2002) - Standing in a drizzle atop Spruce Knob on a windy summer afternoon, it is hard to imagine any place that could have less to do with the Chesapeake Bay.
  • ‘Land of Promise’ shifts gears from commerce to recreation (July/August 2002) - From its high, wooded hills, visitors to Susquehanna State Park get panoramic views of the largest river on the East Coast. Down on its banks, anglers line the shore, hoping to hook the passing shad, perch and striped bass.
  • Gateways Adds Two Sites (April 2002) - The National Park Service’s Bay Gateways Network recently announced the addition of two new sites, bringing the number of parks, refuges, historic ports, museums and trails participating in the network to 108.
  • Great Falls has it all: locks, walks and ancient rocks (April 2002) - Long before the first plants took root to cover them with a soft layer of green, huge gray peaks — probably not unlike those of the Rocky Mountains — once towered where the rolling Piedmont exists today.
  • Museum keeps Chesapeake’s maritime history in shipshape (March 2002) - When John B. Harrison set out to build his seventh “bugeye,” the 24-year-old boat builder took to the woods: He needed 10 straight logs, each roughly 4 feet in diameter and 60 feet long.
  • CBL allows visitors to experience Bay research for themselves (January 2002) - As the sun was setting over the Patuxent River, Eileen Setzler-Hamilton stood on a 750-foot pier stretching off the end of Solomons Island with two high school students, eying their catch.
  • Museum’s visitors learn about trials, tools of watermen’s lives (October 2001) - In the climactic battle of the Revolutionary War, the fledgling American colonies needed to bring the ships of the French fleet into the York River to seal off British soldiers at Yorktown and bottle up the British Fleet.
  • Pamunkey River runs throughout tribe’s history (September 2001) - Crossing a railroad track onto a 1,150 acre peninsula jutting into the Pamunkey River, visitors quickly learn they are entering a unique place: A sign says they have reached land that since 1677 has been governed by a tribal council and a chief.
  • Patuxent Research Refuge practices what it preaches (July/August 2001) - Scarlet Tanager Drive, the main entrance into the Patuxent Research Refuge, winds through the woods not as a two-way street, but as a pair of single, narrow lanes going in each direction.
  • Patuxent Sojourn spotlights restoration, watershed stewardship (July/August 2001) - The Joseph Leidy lay anchor near an oyster bar just south of where Route 231 crosses the Patuxent River.
  • George Washington slept (like a baby) here (May 2001) - In late 1656, the ketch Sea Horse of London set out for what was the wild west of its day: the plantations of the Chesapeake Bay, where it would trade its cargo for hogsheads of tobacco.
  • Jefferson Patterson Park unearths new insights into Bay’s history (April 2001) - From his office overlooking the Patuxent, Michael Smolek has a panoramic view of more than just the river: He also sees the sweeping story of more than 9,000 years of human occupation at the site — a saga as old as the Bay itself.
  • Ward brothers carved niched in art world for wildfowl decoys (March 2001) - Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of columns about the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network.
  • Paddling around Jamestown lets you discover what drew settlers to island in the first place (December 1996) - If you learn anything on a trip to Virginia's "historic triangle" of Williamsburg-Jamestown-Yorktown, you learn that everything and every place has a story and most of them are pretty interesting. You learn little things like why the Chippokes Mansion didn't get destroyed in the Civil War - brandy sales to both sides - and big things, like the fact that Capt. Gabriel Archer wanted to locate the Jamestown settlement on what is now College Creek. He was outvoted.

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