Maryland’s Atlantic Coast
Think of Maryland’s Atlantic 79 mile Coastline? Likely the playful Ocean City, first comes to mind, with its 12 or so miles of wide beach, hotels and all sorts or entertainment. As fun and as American as this all is there is more, starting with the eastern side of the island complete with its marshlands and which you can explore by kayak or less actively, watch dramatic sunsets from one of the several bars.
Nearby, the villages of Berlin and the very inaptly named Snow Hill are old, well maintained, both with a range of historic, often converted to retail use, buildings. Near Snow Hill, across the Pocomoke River is Furnace Town, now restored and well displayed, it was an iron producing town and home for about 300 souls only for about 20 years in the mid 1800’s. Worth the small diversion.
Famous for its wild horses, the island of dunes is home to lots of interesting wildlife and fauna. Seems that the horses have been on the island for about 300 years (there is only about 80 of them which is considered about ‘OK’) and there are 2 theories as to how they got there. The first is that the Spanish bought them here, maybe they escaped from shipwrecks. The second, equally likely but less exciting is that as horses were at one time taxed, farmers kept them off shore. Of course, both likely have roots in the truth. Plan on spending most of a day there, whatever the weather if you are sturdy enough.
Terrapin, a variety of wild fowl, migrating monarch butterflies, crabs of sorts and more, were easily seen. Wisely the horses kept at a distance the time we were there. So patience is required.
Check out how rising sea levels have and will, dramatically change the Island at the Visitor Center.
At the entrance to the island, near the Visitor Center, it is easy to overlook an interesting Plantation House which in its so called ‘heyday’ had 17 slaves. Our Docent chronicled well the horrors that Slavery was, even in this ideal setting. Its open 3-4 days a week only so do check in advance.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Just across the peninsula is a top class Wildlife Reserve, that I had been to before but wanted to explore further. With lakes, trails (walking and longer driving trails) it is very beautiful indeed and famous for its Osprey and Eagle population. On both my visits we saw lots of Eagles in many locations and a few Osprey.
Nowadays, more of us are becoming aware of a lady called Harriet Tubman. She spent her early years in what is now the Wildlife Refuge. Make sure you visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park (only opened in 2017), located only a couple of miles from the Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Try also to stop by some of the many sites which played a part in her life most of which are now in the Refuge or nearby.
Marylands Atlantic Coast
Just Across The Border!
The south end of Assateague Island is in Virginia and called Chincoteague and is a separate Wildlife Refuge, unconnected by road or path to the Maryland part. This area is more populated and there is even a town, hotels etc. but still the wildlife is abundant on the several trails.
Another interesting stop on the way is to call in at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Center just before the bridge to the island. If you are really lucky you will be there on the day of a launch, but at the very least you can see in the distance, the various launch towers.