Category Archives: Bay Islands

Dorchester’s Disappearing Middens; A Last Link to the Ancients

Firehawk sidles his kayak up to the reedy bank and hops out, shells crunching underfoot. I would’ve never found this spot hidden among endless flats of phragmites, but he knows exactly where it is. He comes here occasionally, paying a sort of tribute to a migration his ancestors made countless times. It’s their trash we’ve … Continue reading

Posted in Bay Islands, Earthworks, Food, Ghost towns, Indians | 1 Comment

Watts Island; A Hermit’s Paradise Lost

What could possibly compel you to live alone on a remote island for the better part of three decades? For Charles Hardenberg, it was the very water that is now washing the last traces of him into the Chesapeake Bay. Hardenberg was far from the stereotypical unsociable, cynical hermit. He was a Princeton-educated lawyer from … Continue reading

Posted in Bay Islands, Ghost towns | 8 Comments

Mockhorn Island and the Ruins of a Concrete Effort

I wasn’t sure what I’d find on Mockhorn Island. I knew there was a chance there would be odd artifacts since Mockhorn had once been the secluded retreat of the Cushman family, heirs to a New York bakery fortune, and later Yale University football coaching legend-turned-businessman T.A.D. Jones. Nevertheless, what greeted me when I first … Continue reading

Posted in Bay Islands, Ghost towns, Industry, Military | 21 Comments

Steamboat Wharves; The Vanished Lifeblood of Rural Communities

There were once hundreds of them, just about any spot a country road dead ended at tidewater. They were the lifeblood of communities, a portal to the world beyond. Folks once planned their days, their seasons around them. But now the rotten pilings that descend into murky water do little service to the long-lost importance … Continue reading

Posted in Bay Islands, Boat Graveyards, Ghost towns, Industry | 3 Comments

Wash Woods; A Community Beholden to the Merciless Atlanic

If ever you wanted a taste of our forefathers’ hardiness, you’d find it at Wash Woods. There, in thickets of low-slung evergreens, far from any human population, are the hidden ruins of a community that had no roads in or out. That remoteness was responsible both for the village’s existence and for its undoing. Even … Continue reading

Posted in Bay Islands, Cemeteries, Ghost towns | 8 Comments

The Charles Wilson Treasure; A Legend Buried in Shifting Sands

The treasure buried by Charles Wilson would be worth ten million dollars today–ten chests filled with precious gems, silver and gold bullion that have never been found, despite that Wilson wrote explicit directions to the stashed riches. As alluring as that hidden cache is, however, the fortune may never turn up; it probably doesn’t exist. … Continue reading

Posted in Bay Islands, Ghost towns, Legends | 12 Comments

Cricket Hill; Revolutionary War Earthworks Hiding in Plain Sight

Revolutionary War earthworks–genuine ones that haven’t been touched up or reconstructed–are hard to come by anymore. They’ve been fending off the elements and growth for getting on two-and-a-half centuries. That’s why it’s so remarkable that a rural Virginia county contains the well-preserved remains of an earthen fort built by hardscrabble colonists in 1776. You have … Continue reading

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Deal Island, Maryland and Better Days Gone By

A news report I read recently quoted a local calling Deal Island, Maryland a dying community. That image was a potent siren call. I had no choice but to investigate, particularly since Deal Island is an icon of Bay culture, and losing it would be a significant blow to a 400-year-old heritage. Deal Island dangles mid-Bay … Continue reading

Posted in Bay Islands, Cemeteries | 156 Comments