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Calvert Marine Museum — what a treasure!

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Inside the main building of Calvert Marine Museum

I thought I had last visited the Calvert Marine Museum back in 1988, but my memories from then and what I experienced in my visit of a few weeks ago were worlds apart.  I have always favored the much larger Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland as being the premier watermen’s museum of the Bay, but I’ve noted that Calvert Marine Museum (CMM) has been garnering lots of glowing praise in recent years.  So I had some down time recently and decided to meander over to Solomons Island to check out what all the fuss was about.

Wow — talk about being jam packed with good stuff!

CMM may not be as big as their competition in St. Michaels, but they certainly make up for it in quality, kid friendliness and exhibit density.

Do *not* show to Cindy — she’ll want one for looking at critters under our boat

Lots and lots of quality stuff to see here, many things I had never seen before — like the underwater observation chamber (above) that was dragged behind research vessels.  Knowing how opaque the Bay water can be, I wonder how successful that was?

A press for making a hogshead of tobacco

I’d read of tobacco being sold by the hogshead, but didn’t have a mental reference of what that actually meant.  Now I do.

A chart of steamboat landings in the Bay

The chart of steamboat landings was of interest to me, as it confirmed what one of our dock neighbors had claimed — that our marina was a steamboat landing from decades ago.

From the war of 1812 — the Battle of the Patuxent

I’ve only read in recent years of the Battle of the Patuxent.  I attended two separate high schools in Maryland — one in Williamsport and one in Rockville — and in neither school did they ever cover much of the local history related to the War of 1812.  Try finding anything related to that battle; do a Wikipedia search.  You’ll be rewarded with a cryptic message that reads “The page “Battle of the Patuxent” does not exist”.  Now do a Google search.  Much the same response.  One of the key battles in the Chesapeake Bay during The War of 1812 and it’s largely been lost to the fog of history.  Except you can find a beautiful exhibit about it here at the CMM, complete with items that have been excavated from the actual battle site.  What a find!

The only exhibit I remember from my earlier visit
Nice watercraft construction display
Excellent overview of the unique watercraft of the Chesapeake
???  What’s that?  A river otter?  HERE?

Prior to this visit, I had absolutely NO CLUE that the Calvert Marine Museum had a major exhibit of river otters.  I had only used the web to find their hours of operation for the museum, not for what the museum actually contained, so I was rooted in shock when I rounded a corner outside and came face to face with a live, wiggling, playful river otter that was delighted to interact with kids through the glass walls of the exhibit.

It turns out that river otters can still be found in the upper reaches of the Patuxent — who knew?  I would give my left arm to see a river otter in the wild again, as the last time I did so was on the Salmon River in Idaho during my youth.

Waiting for the Drum Point Lighthouse to be opened
The fresnel lens of the lighthouse
One of the authentic interiors of the lighthouse
Another of the authentic interiors of the lighthouse
One of the CMM working watercraft — a buy boat
The Drum Point Lighthouse – one of the best preserved examples I’ve seen
The small craft collection
Another shot of the small craft collection
Radio beacons clocks, from the Cove Point Light Station

What is my attitude toward Calvert Marine Museum now?  I feel it’s earned every bit of the high praise I’ve been seeing in recent years — and then some.  See for yourself.  Plan a trip with your family and check out what a wonderful local history resource the CMM has developed into — I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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