"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
Bay watershed, from a variety of perspectives
Recap and photos coming soon...
Tangier Island coming soon...
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
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.
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
For the Cecil Whig, by Jane Bellmyer firstname.lastname@example.org
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