history chesapeake bay
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A Brief Look at Chesapeake Bay

Every place in the world has its own colorful history. Some stories can be interesting, others may not be. But with Chesapeake Bay, you’ll not be disappointed.

If you’ve been in the Delmarva Peninsula and traveled to its southern tip, you might have noticed the gap between the peninsula and Norfolk. In that gap, a rare bolide (an asteroid-like comet) crashed there 35.5 million years ago.

The crater that was formed created a massive change in its surroundings. Rivers redirected to different directions. And after some time (around 10,000 years ago), the Chesapeake Bay was formed.

A few centuries after that, the Paleo-Indian people reached and settled in Chesapeake Bay. With the Ice Age at its end, more water moved around the bay.

Giovanni de Verrazano
Giovanni de Verrazano

Most of the water flooded the Susquehanna River Valley, and Chesapeake Bay was filled to the brim. More conifers grew as the climate became warmer and in just around a thousand or two years, most of the Ice Age creatures around the area became extinct.

Fossils of those animals, and deposits from receding water levels can be checked and found on the surrounding cliffs, which is now called Calvert Cliffs. In the first millennium (after Common Era or Christ Era), hundreds of plants, birds, mammals, and fish lived in Chesapeake Bay. Humans, on the other hand, lived by the thousands.

At this point in time, the inhabitants of the bay were specialized hunters. In a few years, they would become knowledgeable about farming, which would cause them to settle in one location and set up informal villages. In the 1500s, the population of the natives in the location would reach 24,000 — a significantly puny number compared to the current standards of population density today.

Due to its geographical characteristics, Chesapeake Bay has become a natural port for local and foreign ships. A few notable captains and voyagers have reached the bay. Some of them entered the port, while others just sailed past it. Among those people were Giovanni da Verrazano, Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón, and Pedro Menéndez de Márquez.

After a swarm of colonists and explorers, the landscape and industry in the Chesapeake Bay area slowly changed. During the 1650s, the bay’s most economically profitable product was tobacco. However, despite the hint of possible success in terms of the economy, the bay was struck by diseases and wars. These catastrophes lowered the population down to 2,400.

In the following centuries, the Chesapeake Bay natives focused on recovering from the events that had almost wiped them out. And as they progressed to the modern era, Chesapeake Bay transformed into what is now known as America’s Sailing Capital — home to famous boat shows, fantastic fishing, and other water activities.

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