Inside your county government
Mallows Bay: A place of history, fun and adventure
Since its establishment in 1658, Charles County is continually creating its mark on our nation’s history through notable figures, landmarks and monumental past events. One of these landmarks is Mallows Bay, home to the “Ghost Fleet,” the largest ship graveyard in the Western Hemisphere.
Mallows Bay shipwrecks, which represent American conflicts dating back to the Revolutionary War through World War I, have become a sanctuary for a wide variety of wildlife species. Mallows Bay Park features wildlife and shipwreck viewing areas with a permanent telescope, fishing, boating, kayak access and a hiking trail.
Visitors can enjoy the scenic view of the bay’s waterscape dotted with tiny islands and scattered remains representing centuries of American history. Across the bottom of Mallows Bay and the Potomac River are the remains of more than 100 wooden steam ships built between 1917 and 1919 for the World War I United States Emergency Fleet. Paddlers are advised to use caution when exploring due to the diverse shipwreck debris hidden under the water’s surface. The park, located at 1440 Wilson Landing Road, Nanjemoy, is open to the public daily, year-round from 5:30 a.m. to dusk.
In order to further preserve this unique site, in October 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) declared its intent to designate Mallows Bay as a National Marine Sanctuary. A National Marine Sanctuary provides a safe habitat for species close to extinction and protects historically significant shipwrecks. Ranging in size, each sanctuary site is a unique place requiring special protections. The Mallows Bay designation is a first for the state of Maryland and Chesapeake watershed; the designation will attract tourists from around the globe and promote county economic development.
If you would like to get involved, the sanctuary process includes public input. NOAA will hold a public scoping meeting on Tuesday, March 7, at the Charles County Government Building (200 Baltimore St., La Plata) from 6 to 9 p.m. This meeting is an opportunity to review and comment on the sanctuary proposal. Your input will assist NOAA in moving forward with the designation process. Information on submitting written comments is available online at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/mallows-bay. Written comments must be received by March 31.
Mallows Bay will be featured in an upcoming special event, The Discover Quest: World War I Commemoration Weekend, on April 21-23. The event honors the 100th anniversary of World War I. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the site while having fun. Enjoy an art exhibit from Charles County Public Schools students, take a kayak tour and participate in interactive programs. Discover all that Mallows Bay has to offer. For more information about the event, go to www.CharlesCountyMD.gov/DiscoverQuest.
For more information about upcoming tourism events and attractions, go to www.CharlesCountyMD.gov/Tourism. Whether it’s historic landmarks or events for the whole family, our tourism division is bringing discovery and adventure to you. Eileen Minnick is the director of the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism for Charles County Government.