The Vanishing Chesapeake Bay Islands


As a native Marylander who lives near Solomon’s Island along the Chesapeake Bay, I always have appreciated the beautiful scenery along its shorelines. It was in the 1600’s when colonists settled along it and began to record in county land records the names of hundreds of islands, some of which they would farm and call home. There was Turtle Egg Island, and Sharps Island, and Parker’s Island.

“But today, more than 400 of those islands in Maryland and Virginia cannot be found on modern navigational maps of the Bay,” wrote William Cronin in his 2005 book, Disappearing Islands of the Chesapeake Bay.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Holland Island, located about a dozen miles northwest of Crisfield on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore, was home to more than 360 residents and about 70 homes and stores.  It was one of over 400 Chesapeake Bay islands that now have sunk beneath the waves over the last three centuries.  These islands vanished because of rising sea levels, erosion and the natural sinking of land around the Chesapeake region.  If you are familiar with Smith and Tangier Islands (about 10 miles north of Holland Island), you may know that they are still above water, but are sinking, too. For those who deny climate change, just talk to any Smith or Tangier Islander and they will tell you how life is changing on a sinking island.

A 12-year-old, 8th grader, Grayson Middleton, for the Annual National History Day Competition in 2011, created the following impressive video documentary.  His video won $150 dollars, was publicly recognized for excellence in historic preservation, and his efforts won over my heart.  Hope you enjoy:

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