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Anne Arundel County Endorses Captain John Smith National Historic Water Trail

Annapolis (August 15, 2006) - County Executive Janet Owens has requested that the National Park Service include Anne Arundel County in the planning for a National Historic Water Trail to commemorate the exploratory voyages of the Chesapeake Bay made by the Jamestown Colony's Captain John Smith from 1607 - 1609.

The historical records indicate that Captain John Smith, on his two voyages to the upper Chesapeake Bay in 1608, explored the coastline of what is now Anne Arundel County, and likely made landfall at three or more locations. Ms. Owens believes that the inclusion of Anne Arundel sites on the proposed Captain John Smith National Historic Water Trail will help enhance and promote heritage tourism in Anne Arundel County.

Historians, including Edward Wright Haile, author of Jamestown Narratives - Eyewitness Accounts of the Virginia Colony, The First Decade 1607 -1617, and Wayne E. Clark, author of the draft report John Smith's Chesapeake Voyages, 1607 -1609, have examined Captain Smith's written record and excellent map to conclude that Smith was very familiar with the future Anne Arundel County coastline. On June 12, 1608 (Old Calendar), Smith mapped the Sillery Bay region of the Magothy River before spending the night in the vicinity of Bodkin Point. On June 13, Smith's party explored the Patapsco to the fall line (present day Elkridge). On June 14, the returning party was overtaken by storms and overnighted at the mouth of the Patapsco River.

Before returning south, Smith mapped Bodkin Creek and apparently spent the next night in the vicinity of Herring Bay. In late July, Smith made a second voyage, focusing on the upper Bay. The first major stop was the mouth of the Patapsco River, because of their prior familiarity with the area and knowledge of safe harbor and available fresh water. Smith's party over-nighted there on July 29, possibly in Bodkin Creek, before proceeding north on the 30th.

Anne Arundel County has numerous waterfront parks and historic sites, including Hancock's Resolution, a restored eighteenth century farmstead at the mouth of Bodkin Creek, which would provide the most appropriate stopping points for a designated Historic Water Trail. It is hoped that the re-enactors who will be sailing a replica of John Smith's shallop will be able to visit and stop at some of the identified Anne Arundel County sites visited by Captain John Smith on their commemorative voyage around the Chesapeake Bay in 2007.


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