Algonquian-speaking Indians made this area home for thousands of years, giving us the names of the Chesapeake Bay, Patuxent and Potomac Rivers which dfine the tidewater boundaries of Southern Maryland. In 1608, Captain Joh Smith and his crew sailed up these rivers and Bay to map the region for the new English colony at Jamestown, providing the first detailed written knowledge of this region. The success of tobacco profits and the fur trade in virginia motivated Lord Baltimore to secure the charter to establish the colony of Maryland which began as a small settlement on the St. Mary’s River in the spring of 1634. These first Maryland settlers soon established a permanent colony at Historic St. Mary’s City, the first State Capital of Maryland and England’s fourth permanent settlement in America. Calvert County was established in 1654; Charles County in 1658 and St. Mary’s County in 1637.
Southern Maryland is geographically noteworthy. This beautiful land is surrounded by water — the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay on three sides. The Patuxent River flows into the Bay and separates Calvert County from St. Mary’s County. If you long for the serenity of sailing, set a course for the Bay, the Patuxent and the Potomac River to explore their gently flowing tributaries, tranquil streams and secluded creeks.
Southern Maryland has changed significantly since 1608. In 1608, 9,000 Algonquian-speaking Indians lived here. The Region is a home to more than a quarter of a million people now. It has 1,082 square miles of land captured within 700 miles of pristine shoreline. (Roughly the same size of the State of Rhode Island.) Southern Maryland has three counties – Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties and five incorporated towns – Chesapeake Beach, Indian Head, La Plata, Leonardtown, and North Beach. In 2006, the total population in Southern Maryland was estimated at nearly 330,000 by the Maryland Department of Planning.
The Patuxent River Naval Air Station (NAS Pax River) and the Indian Head Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) are among the most beautiful and vital naval shore installations in the existence today. The NAS Pax River is home to the Naval Air Warfare Center-Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and many tenant activities known as leaders in aviation and advanced technology. The Navy is the largest employer in the Region. Lexington Park area has one of the highest concentrations of high- tech related employment in the State of Maryland.
Southern Maryland has so very much to offer its residents and visitors. You can tour the Smallwood’s Retreat, home of Revolutionary War General and former Maryland governor Smallwood. You can attend church at the historic St. Ignatius Church at Chapel Point, the oldest continuously active parish in the U.S., dating back to 1662. You can visit the Haberdeventure Plantation located at Thomas Stone National Historic Site. Mr. Stone was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. You can tour the home of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, who set the broken leg of John Wileks Booth, President Lincoln’s assassin. You can explore the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons to learn more about the Region’s maritime history and pre-history. You can stroll through the Region’s beautiful manor homes and plantations, such as Sotterley Plantation. You can visit the lively open-air cafes and bars on Solomons Island or take your family to a crab feast at Pope Creek to enjoy the famous Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. You can discover the tools of Native Americans, who settled Maryland thousands of years before the first European arrived, at the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum and St. Clement’s Island – Potomac Museum. You can enter the realm of the towering bald cypress trees at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary or hike to the majestic Calvert Cliffs, one of the richest deposits of the marine fossils in the eastern U.S. You can roam the site of Port Tobacco, once a very active port and important center for the colony’s tobacco trade, and the former seat of Charles County. You can visit the Zekiah Swamp National Environmental Area, a 20-mile long, 0.5 mile wide, bottomland swamp. Zekiah Swamp is a nationally recognized and protected wetland area, which provides a natural habitat for many rare wildlife species and migratory birds.
Southern Maryland’s hospitality can be found in abundance through Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties. You can enjoy ease stay and pleasurable visit to the “land of pleasant living.”