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PO Box 97
14200 Solomons Island Road
Solomons, MD 20688
P: 410-326-2042
F: 410-326-6691

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Maritime History


Maritime Patuxent: A River and Its People

The Maritime Heritage of the Southern Maryland region is the story of human interaction with the environment. This is a story driven by geography and patterns of trade and settlement unique in the Chesapeake Bay. It tells of early settlers, individual entrepreneurs, rugged watermen, and skilled craftsmen seeking a better life for themselves and their families, and how that human interaction contributes to the constant changes in the Chesapeake Bay.

What's in the Gallery

The maritime gallery travels the Patuxent River through time, starting with the “Pawtuxunt” Indians as they lived at the time of contact with Captain John Smith. Learn about the English settlers in the Colonial period that grew tobacco and shipped it from wharves on the Patuxent to British ports, and the African slaves and indentured servants who grew this labor intensive crop. The War of 1812 marked this region, and you can see artifacts from the Battle of St. Leonard’s Creek pulled from the bottom of the river. The gallery offers ship models of the many work boats that plied the waters of the river and the steamboats that linked this area to the urban center at Baltimore. Learn how Solomons Island got its name, the rise and fall of the seafood industry and the critical impacts of World War II as you wander through this river of change. The gallery brings you up to the present with a look at the importance of recreational fishing to this region today and the environmental challenges development has created for this sensitive environment.

Mezzanine Gallery

Boat Racing Exhibit Logo

Thrills and Spills:
The Golden Era of Powerboat Racing 
in Southern Maryland

Outboard powerboat racing was one of the largest and most popular spectator sports in Southern Maryland in the decades following World War II.  Thousands of fans flocked to local waterside venues to watch the races and root for their favorite boats and drivers.

Local boat races ranged from informal wildcat races to the nationally recognized American Power Boat Association (APBA) sanctioned race events.   Early on, the Solomons Island Yacht Club and its offshoot, the Solomons Outboard Club, ran APBA sanctioned races at Solomons and in the Patuxent River.

From the late 1950s to the late 1970s, the Southern Maryland Boat Club (SMBC) managed races all over the Southern Maryland region.  During its heyday, the club boasted dozens of local outboard power boat drivers.  After joining the APBA in 1970, the club became a powerhouse in Outboard Performance Craft racing.  The SMBC produced a number of national champion drivers who traveled the APBA circuit, competing in races as far away as Florida, New York, and Arizona.
boat racing

Outboard boat racing in Southern Maryland spanned the transition from wooden round hull boats to fiberglass V-hull and tunnel hull boats.  With every advance in racing equipment and technology, the sport became increasingly expensive for the average driver to afford.  By the late 1970s, only a few local outboard racers were still pursuing the sport and, by the late 1980s, local outboard racing was only a memory.

Thrills and Spills interprets this golden era of local powerboat racing through photographs, film footage, memorabilia, artifacts, and recollections of race boat drivers.

Maritime History Collections

A mission of the Calvert Marine Museum is to collect and preserve materials relating to the maritime and cultural heritage of the region. Although the museum possesses over 5,700 artifacts and 13,000 photographs in its permanent collections, only a small percentage is on display to the public at any given time. The majority of the collections are in storage. Stored items may be rotated into permanent exhibits, used in temporary displays, or loaned to other institutions for exhibits. Artifacts, photographs, and archival materials in the museum’s collections are also used for research and in publications.

If you have an artifact, photograph, or archival item of historical interest which relates to the maritime or cultural history of the region that you would like to donate to the museum, please contact Richard Dodds, Curator of Maritime History, at


Maritime History Quick Links


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