The Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest estuary, stretching 185 miles from the Susquehanna River to the Virginia capes, touching more than 8,000 miles of shoreline. This country of mists and tranquil waters harbors a rare abundance of wildlife, as well as the last commercial sailing fleet in the United Statesthe famous skipjacks, or oyster-dredging boats. The bay and its rivers are home to isolated villages that preserve early colonial dialects; to historic plantations, such as Mount Vernon; and to considerable cities, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Richmond.
Beautifully photographed and written, Chesapeake Country tells the story of the bay in all its aspects: its waterscape and wildlife; its delicate ecology; its rich history as the seedbed of American liberty as well as American slavery; and its uncertain present, as the population of watermen who live by crabbing and oystering dwindles, and that of prosperous newcomers seeking a respite from city life grows. This new edition also discusses the future of the bay in the era of climate change and brings us up to date on the places and personalities that make the Chesapeake so unique.
For those who live on the bay, Chesapeake Country is a celebration. For those who do not, it is an invitation to explore. And for everyone, it is a journey of discovery.
|Publisher:||Abbeville Publishing Group|
|Edition description:||Second Edition|
|Product dimensions:||9.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Eugene L. Meyer, a former staff reporter and editor for The Washington Post, has covered the people and places of the Chesapeake Bay for more than forty years. He is also the author of Maryland Lost and Found . . . Again.
Read an Excerpt
By Lucian Niemeyer, Eugene Meyer
Abbeville PressCopyright © 2015 Lucian Niemeyer
All rights reserved.
"Nature craves moderation and ten inches of rain over ten weeks is better than ten inches of rain over one week. Big storms increase the velocity of water," which has, some might say, a spillover effect, accelerating erosion even as the sea-level rises. Indeed, the scientist say that the risk of hundred-year storms has nearly doubled from global warming.
In much of the Chesapeake country , meanwhile, little seems to have changed. Back Creek in the Eastport section of Annapolis is as full of pleasure craft as ever. Big yachts continue to tie up at the dock in "Ego Alley," the state capital's waterfront inlet. The full marinas in bay towns from Annapolis to St. Michaels, from Herrington Harbor to Solomons, testify to the economic well-being of many citizens of Chesapeake country.
Along the bay's major tributaries, the old plantations continue to stand sentinel by ageless rivers. Yet even here there have been changes, most notably in coming to terms with a part of the past that has for too long been swept aside: the very significant role played by America's "peculiar" institution, slavery. At Sotterly, on the Patuxent River, a descendant of a slave and a descendent of a slave owner sat together on the governing board of the non-profit foundation that owns it. At Stratford, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee, on the Potomac, slave descendants held two well-attended reunions, in 2001 and 2011. Even Shirly Plantation, on the James, had begun to acknowledge this unsavory aspect of its own history, with archeological digs and a new exhibit on the enslaved African Americans who toiled there. At the same time, there is an ongoing family legacy at Shirley, as Charles Hill Carter, Jr., passed on in 2009 leaving stewardship of the plantation to his son, Charles III, the tenth generation to reside there.
Meanwhile, over in Easton, the city of Talbot County, on Maryland's Eastern shore, after much haggling and delay, they dedicated a statue in June 2011, of native son Fredrick Douglass, who fled from slavery to become a leading African American abolitionist, diplomat, writer, and orator. (It sits right next to a monument to the "Talbot Boys" who fought for the confederacy.) Two years the State Highway Administration had dedicated route 33 to Douglass; the road runs from Easton through to St. Michaels to Tilghman Island, encompassing the Bay Hundred district, where he toiled as a slave.
This then is welcome changeand continuitythat has come to Chesapeake country over the past quarter century. There is comfort in that, even as the sea level rises and the land retreats. For many, this is still, as boosters say, "the land of pleasant living." For now, and for the foreseeable futureChesapeake countrywith its distinct culture, history, resources, beauty, and yes challengeslives on, and so does my love affair with it.
Excerpted from Chesapeake Country by Lucian Niemeyer, Eugene Meyer. Copyright © 2015 Lucian Niemeyer. Excerpted by permission of Abbeville Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chesapeake Country Revisited 7
The Landings 37
The Plantations 61
The Watermen 97
Tidewater Towns/Chesapeake Cities 141
Chesapeake Country: Back to the Future 187
Suggestions For Further Reading 221