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"The Voices of the Chesapeake Bay Interview Project is created to help  us further develop our 'sense of place.'  The Voices Project is ongoing, inherently 'inclusive' and well-rounded, giving us the ability to see our bio-region, the Chesapeake Bay watershed, from a variety of perspectives 
and points of view. With this ability we can fully and truly appreciate this incredible place called the Chesapeake Bay." 

Michael Buckley, Project Director

(Read the full interview)


Voices Tour of 
the Chesapeake Bay 

Summer 2010

Recap and photos coming soon...

Summer 2009

Tangier Island coming soon...

Spring 2008

In the spring of 2008, Michael Buckley embarked upon a four month tour of the Chesapeake  watershed, collecting interviews, scouting for media opportunities, searching out Bay artists 
and musicians for a new book, presenting public and school events, and carrying the message that we all need to work together to clean up the Bay.

The Voices Spring Tour began on March 28-29 as Michael and students from the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College traveled north through farms lining the creeks and river to the "Top of the Bay" in Cecil County. Over two days of the first leg of the Voices Tour, Michael, Jasper Colt and Marc Dykeman recorded twelve new interviews with a variety of Bay colorful and interesting Bay people. We had a very good time and here are some thoughts I quickly jotted down about Day 1.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Voices book tour continues as does the Voices Interview Tour 2008. Along with two Washington College students, Marc Dykeman (Fri) and Jasper Colt (Sat), I traveled past legendary country plantations to Cecil County for two exciting days of interviews on March 28-29. First stop, to visit with Millie Ludwig "the Swamp Lady of Cecilton" at her home in Earlville, MD. Millie is a well-respected activist, vocal on issues such as wetland preservation and land use. Now in her 80s, Millie is as feisty as ever, a voracious reader of scientific books and lover of Chesapeake nature from her home at Ches Haven overlooking the Sassafras River.

Then Marc Dykeman and I traveled to Chesapeake City with its majestic bridge spanning the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. From command central we interviewed the US Army Corp of Engineers canal keepers before Marc was zipped down the stone canal road to experience the exchange of Bay Pilots near the state line between Delaware and Maryland. At first notice was the width of the canal, seemingly larger than I had anticipated. But when these massive ships appeared from around the bend the whole town was dwarfed by their majesty and swiftness. 

While Marc and canal manager Jim Tomlin raced the ship down the canal, I ventured forth to Historic    Elkton, land of shotgun weddings and other memorable historic events. I spent the middle of the day with historian Mike Dixon of the Cecil County Historical Society and ghost storyteller Ed Okonowicz who has also written umpteen books about the people of Delmarva and on other subjects. Mike told us of the famous Jefferson letter discovered at Historic Elk Landing, near where an armada of over 250 ships once plied the Chesapeake Bay bringing soldiers to Turkey Point on their way to the Battle of Brandywine in Pennsylvania. The letter was appraised and sold for $750,000. Ed Okonowicz talked of Cecil and Anne Arundel County ghost stories, including tales of the Brice House, the National Cemetery and the encampment at Parole near Annapolis. Listen to Voices of the Chesapeake Bay a week from Sunday on 103 WRNR (7-10am) to hear some of Ed's amazing tales.

From Elkton we raced down to Elk Neck State Park and Turkey Point Light where you really feel that you are standing at the  "Top pf the Bay." Chief Ranger Rick Smith opened the lighthouse for us and we made the trek to the top. Looking out as we hugged the fresnel light 30 feet higher than the already massive 100 foot cliff at the point, we could imagine what life must have been like for the solitary lighthouse keeper and his wife. Incidentally, the men kept dying off so there were actually a goodly number of wives who took over as lighthouse keepers at Turkey Point.

Just down the street from Elk Neck State Park headquarters was North Bay, a multi-million dollar adventure camp for sixth graders where I visited with camp manager George Comfort and talked about the importance of experiencing an outdoor classroom and using the Bay as a cross-curriculum teaching tool.

Retracing my steps as the sun set, I raced back to Chesapeake City to encounter what canal keeper Joe Brennan said would be a 6:30 passing of a supertanker through the C&D. From high atop Turkey Point Light we had seen the giant container ship entering the canal. Making good time through the forests of Elk Neck and the pretty town of North East, I tooled down Rt. 40 toward Chesapeake City. As I crossed the high bridge there I noticed that the ship had already passed and was rounding the next bend. Not to be outdone I chased the big ship through the back roads of Chesapeake City finally making a left on a street which I knew would run smack dab into the canal. There was a lonesome and mangy dog running loose where the side street met the canal road, pining me in the car. When after a few minutes the old pooch wandered into an adjacent ancient cemetery I leaped from the car and climbed the embankment only to see the ship had passed, rounding yet another corner, nearly out of sight. 

Giving up for the day on chasing giant ships, I continued back the way I came and pulled up at a house overlooking the misty Sassafras River and met with Charlotte Staelin a longtime resident of Georgetown, a city I later learned that was wiped off the map by British troops during the War of 1812. Down one of Georgetown's few streets was the family farm that Charlotte grew up on. After leaving home in favor of world travel, Charlotte was now back in her relatives house writing a book about her travels in India. The family farm is now a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) operation where people buy shares and receive boxes of fresh vegies each week during the growing season. (I'm soon to become a member.) Charlotte Staelin too is an avid defender of the Cecil County rural way of life and active in land preservation. Her family farm is now preserved in perpetuity as agricultural land.

I left Charlotte at about 8:30pm and headed back up the road to Chesapeake City where I encamped at the Ship Watch Inn, a bed and breakfast establishment where all of the rooms looked directly out over the C&D Canal. Just under the wire dinner was served to me down the street at the infamous Hole in the Wall Bar, once pretty much the only establishment in town before the canal boom, a place where during prohibition drinks were passed through a hole in the wall for consumption outside under the cover of night. That was day one of the two day Cecil County journey. Day two was just as eventful and fulfilling. Over two days we completed twelve new interviews. Our next journey will be later this month to Harford County and the western half of the "Top of the Bay," and on down past Aberdeen Proving Ground. In May we travel by helicopter to Tangier Island, Virginia for three days of interviews hosted by the new Tangier Island Museum and Visitors Center (postponed from early April). Michael Buckley


Voices of the Chesapeake Project shines a light
on folks from the
Upper Shore


For the Cecil Whig, by Jane Bellmyer  jbellmyer@cecilwhig.com
Posted: Monday, April 7, 2008 12:12 PM EDT

The Chesapeake Bay is shown in this NASA image taken from space. A local radio personality has used the bay and its tributaries as his guideposts for finding interesting people to interview for a new collection. Michael Buckley is not a complicated guy. "I like to tell the stories of everyday people," he said.

As author of "Voices of the Chesapeake Bay," and host of the radio program "Sunday Brunch" on WRNR (103.1 FM), Buckley has been visiting people and places in Cecil County and hooking up with folks who have a story to tell.

"Of all the places in the bay, this is the first place I chose to go," he said. "This is the top of the bay. It's the place I need to start."

He estimates he has done 250 such interviews over the past seven years for his collection. These new interviews will be heard on his radio program, and he plans to consider them for a second book.

His goal is to make "Voices of the Chesapeake Bay" come off the pages. Buckley, assisted by student interns from Washington College in Chestertown, Md., has been talking to people that have some kind of connection to the bay and its tributaries.
Those voices include local personalities Millie Ludwig, Ed Okonowicz, Richard "Tucker" Mackie, George Reynolds, Jimmie Kline, JoAnn Dawson, Jim Tomlin, Joe Brennan and Sandra Edwards.

"They had some colorful folks on that list," Edwards said. Modestly, she said she was not sure why she was included. "I thought I'd just be giving them some background," she said.

Edwards is a land-protection specialist with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy.
Born and raised in Cecil County, Edwards's featured conversation focused on land preservation, a topic about which she is passionate. "We talked about conservation, what's going on in Cecil County and why it's so important," she said. "We did talk about the work I've done, which is certainly vital to the Chesapeake Bay and the quality of life."

She pointed to projects such as River Edge Farm. "It's 532 acres in horse country at Cayot's Corner," Edwards said of the area formerly known as Sycamore Hall. Thanks to the Conservancy the farm is now part of a contiguous protected land mass. "I can lay my head down and go to sleep knowing I've done some good work," she said.

Marc Dykeman, an intern for Buckley, said stories like this need to be captured and saved for future generations. "There's a lot of development going on, and with this new influx of people you see communities getting fractured," he said. "It's important to reinforce these ties." "It's great to have a resource like the Chesapeake Bay too tie it all together," Buckley said. "There's all this stuff hiding. This is a way to bring these stories out," he said. "Life is about looking at things from a number of different perspectives."

If you would like to get involved as a volunteer with the 
Voices of the Chesapeake Bay project, write:

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Voices of the Chesapeake Bay
The book

Click to order

Fifty-three life stories.  Amazing people from all walks of Chesapeake Bay life.

Includes: former Maryland Governor Harry R. Hughes, "Presidential Medal of Honor" recipient Russell Train, Univ. of Maryland Center for Environmental Science president Donald Boesch, ESPN Chief Sailing Commentator Gary Jobson, farmer & mayor Russell Brinsfield of Vienna, MD, Queenstown historian Harry Rhodes, author/ fisherman Bill Burton, author Tom Horton, Chesapeake Bay Foundation V.P. of Education Don Baugh, Maryland Watermen's Association president Larry Simns, and many more. (464p).  

Voices Radio Project 

Broadcast as part of 
The Sunday Brunch 
on 103 WRNR-FM
Each week

Click here to "Listen Now"

Sponsored by

The Boatyard Bar & Grill

The Keith Campbell Foundation 
for the Environment

C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at 
Washington College

16 Songs - 16 Artists
3 Grammy Winners!

The only CD of its kind,
bringing together a range of
Chesapeake Bay artists and songs in a variety of styles.

Featuring Bruce Hornsby (Williamsburg, VA), Tom Chapin (Upstate NY),  Al Petteway (NC), Deanna Dove (North Beach, MD), Tom Wisner (Lusby, MD), Earl White (Dames Quarter, MD), Magpie (Takoma Park, MD), Them Eastport Oysterboys (Eastport, MD), Bruce Myers & Crew (Baltimore, MD), Dan Haas & Robin Jung (Annapolis, MD), Mike Garfinkel (Edgewater, MD), Robbin Thompson (Richmond, VA), Mike Aiken (Norfolk, VA), Dominick Murray (Baltimore, MD), The Geckos (Annapolis, MD), and The Millers (Tilghman Island, MD)

$10 plus $2 shipping 
Purchase by check made 
out to:

Songs of the Chesapeake Bay
1131 Bay Ridge Road
Annapolis, MD 21403

Michael A. Buckley/Voices of the Chesapeake BayAll rights reserved. 
For questions regarding this website contact [voicesofthebay@aol.com]