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Nearby Outdoor Fossil Collecting Location:
Potomac River, MD
Outdoor Shark Tooth Collecting Location:
Calvert Cliffs, MD
Chesapeake Bay Data: Tides, Winds, Weather, Sea Nettles, etc...
Fossil Shark Gallery
Mallows Bay, Potomac River, Charles County, Maryland
To learn how this graveyard came to be, read my photo trip below:
As one paddles closer to Mallows bay, the rusty bow of an old ferry, the Accomac, breaches the water. Emerging from the distance,
small dots of vegetation strangely sprinkle the bay. It is not evident one is approaching hundreds of sunken ships.
However, as one paddles closer and closer, hunks of decaying wood and large iron nails can be seen, mostly inches under
the water. As one carefully navigates through the debris field, outlines of dozens of football field length ships begin
to emerge. It now becomes apparent one is in the largest ship graveyard fleets in North America.
Mallows bay is an incredibly scenic place. The derelict wrecks are now home to Osprey, water fowl, and other wildlife.
Bald Eagles nest in the nearby trees along the shore. It once was a fun daylong adventure to paddle to this curious spot.
However, the state bought the land next to the graveyard, created a park and installed a boat ramp for easy canoe and kayak access.
Although it is now less of an adventure to travel to, it can now be enjoyed by many more nature and outdoor enthusiasts.
Mallows Bay Park - 1440 Wilson Landing Road, Nanjemoy, MD
Entrance to the park is at the intersection of Riverside Rd (rt. 224) and Wilson Landing Road, in Nanjemoy, Maryland.
Kayak Trip to Mallows Bay - The History of the Ghost Fleet
After paddling our wobbly kayak along the Potomac for over an hour,
we finally saw an old rusted hull looming in the distance.
This old ferry, the "Accomac," was the first evidence that we made
it to the ghost fleet of Mallows Bay.
Traveling here was tough, but it was well worth it to paddle, and get lost in the history of Mallows Bay.
Paddling up to the ferry, we heard warning cries from an Osprey tending to its nest on
the ships' bow. After rounding the rusted bow and an angry Osprey, the ghost ships
Built to carry cargo across the Atlantic to support the war effort in Europe, the ships
arrived too little too late. By wars end, only 134 out of the 731 contracted ships had
been finished. Shortly after, a total of 264 were finished. Out of those, only 195
had actually crossed the Atlantic.
Once W.W.I. was over, no one wanted the leaky, obsolete ships.
Eventually, after much fiasco leading into the 1960's, the remaining ships (over 150),
partially salvaged, were left to rot in Mallows bay.
Looking nothing like they did in 1918, the fleet of wooden steamships are now empty,
rotting hulls poking haphazardly out of the water; a navigational nightmare even for our small kayak.
The remaining ships that dot the bay are now wooden islands, full of vegetation.
These wooden islands act as a wildlife sanctuary for many animals, including Heron, Osprey, and
Bald Eagles that patrol the waters. Mallows Bay is a bird watchers paradise.
After stopping at a gravel bar that was created by the remains of the vessel
"Grayling," for a stretch, we decided to look for
some of the older wrecks, such as a revolutionary war era scooner and an 18th century
longboat, then head for home.
Hull identification is based on Shomette (1996).
Click here to read a more complete story of the Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay