Chesapeake Conservancy Celebrates 10th Anniversary of Nation’s First All-Water National Historic Trail

Annapolis, MD – Today, the Chesapeake Conservancy celebrated the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail at an event at Patapsco Valley State Park. On December 19, 2006, President George W. Bush signed legislation into law designating the trail as the nation’s first all-water national historic trail.

Blands Content marked on Captain John Smith’s map as it looked in the 1600s versus modern aerial mapping today.

The trail commemorates Captain John Smith’s 17th century explorations of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, as well as the American Indians he interacted with on his journeys. The Conservancy marked the occasion by installing a granite marker at Patapsco Valley State Park to commemorate where Captain John Smith came on land at Blands Content more than 400 years ago.

“The trail started out as the idea of visionaries to highlight the history and culture of the Chesapeake,” Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said. “Today we praise their foresight as well as the hard work of our many partners to use the trail as a framework for large landscape conservation and increase public access in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”

The marker is one of 24 in the John Smith Chesapeake Trail cross marker project. In his journal, John Smith wrote that the “markes” [sic] on his 1612 map represent actual crosses left in those places during is exploration, either of brass or a shape carved in tree bark. Through the help of John Smith historian Edward Wright Haile and fellow project volunteer, Connie Lapallo, the Conservancy is working to mark each spot for modern day adventurers to visit using small stone markers.

“The cross marker project is a chance to connect people to history in their own collective backyard. The cross markers offer a chance to think about what happened at a certain spot more than 400 years ago. These markers bring the history of Captain Smith’s explorations to life, and we are deeply appreciative to the state of Maryland Department of Natural Resources for allowing us to place the marker at Patapsco Valley State Park,” Dunn continued.

Chesapeake Conservancy Board Member Charlie Stek; Chesapeake Conservancy President & CEO Joel Dunn; volunteer historian Connie Lapallo; volunteer historian Ed Haile; and Chesapeake Conservancy Board Member H. Turney McKnight celebrate placement of the John Smith Chesapeake Trail marker at Patapsco Valley State Park.

Among the many achievements along the trail during its first ten years are partnering and helping to create 108 new public access sites, permanently protecting some of the most iconic places in the Chesapeake Bay, including Werowocomoco, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, Fort Monroe National Monument.



The Chesapeake Conservancy’s mission is to strengthen the connection between people and the watershed; conserve the landscapes and special places that sustain the Chesapeake’s unique natural and cultural resources; and restore landscapes, rivers, and habitats in the Chesapeake Bay region. We empower the conservation community with access to the latest data and technology. As principal partner for the National Park Service on the John Smith Chesapeake Trail, we helped create 108 new public access sites and permanently protect some of the Bay’s special places like Werowocomoco, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, and Fort Monroe National Monument.