“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Coltons Point in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

The Shrinking Island

The Shrinking Island Marker image. Click for full size.
By F. Robby, September 12, 2009
1. The Shrinking Island Marker
Inscription. Glaciers, storms, tides and winds are constantly creating and destroying islands and shorelines throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. According to Maryland settler and Jesuit missionary Father Andrew White, St. Clement's Island was 400 acres in 1634. Today, the island, measured with Global Positioning System (GPS), has been reduced by erosion to 62 acres.

During the 1920s, the Federal Government used layers of large stones, called riprap, to control erosion near the Blackistone Island Lighthouse. Fifty years later, through the efforts of the St. Mary's Historical Society and the State of Maryland, riprap now surrounds the entire island. The Maryland Park Service continues efforts to slow the effects of erosion by allowing vegetation to grow and by limiting recreational use of the island.

Hurricane Isabel's Devastation
During Hurricane Isabel in 2003, the Potomac waters forced a wall of riprap to collapse and washed away a portion of the island's bank. The fury of scores of hurricanes has shaped the Chesapeake Bay islands and beaches for more than 10,000 years.

[map image] A survey map, last revised by the military in 1920, illustrates how the island had changed shape and decrease in size since the 1883 survey.

[1920s photo] A 1920s photo, taken from the Blackistone
The Shrinking Island Marker image. Click for full size.
By F. Robby, September 12, 2009
2. The Shrinking Island Marker
Island Lighthouse tower, shows a riprap being used to protect the lighthouse grounds.

[photo] Riprap is more than rocks
A filter fabric is placed behind the riprap, making the erosion control more effective. The fabric allows the water to flow off the island and traps the soil normally lost in the run off.
Erected by Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Location. 38° 12.548′ N, 76° 44.55′ W. Marker is in Coltons Point, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker can be reached from Point Breeze Road 0.2 miles east of Colton Point Road (Maryland Route 242). Click for map. Marker is on St. Clements Island which is only accessibly by boat. A ferry operates on weekends from the St. Clement's Island Museum on Point Breeze Road. Marker is in this post office area: Coltons Point MD 20626, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. " of the pleasantest summer resorts on the Potomac" (within shouting distance of this marker); St. Clement's Island (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); "With a laudable and pious zeal..." (about 600 feet away); Welcome to St. Clement's Island (about 700 feet away); A Target for Big Guns (about 700 feet away); Blackistone Island Lighthouse (about 800 feet away); Maryland Began Here! (approx. mile away); a different marker also named Welcome to St. Clement's Island (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Coltons Point.
Categories. 20th CenturyColonial EraEnvironmentNatural Resources
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 722 times since then and 55 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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