After a few days of extreme wind at our new lake house, I finally decided to take “mini me” on a kayaking adventure. I did a little Google searching and found The Ghost Fleet of Mallow’s Bay in Maryland. Essentially it is a vast ship graveyard on the western shore of Charles County. With wrecks of more than 230 ships, including 81 wooden steamships built by the U.S. Government during World War I.
A special kayak launching area (located at the orange square in the photo below) makes paddling access easy. To the far left of that is the ship you see in the intro pic of this article and there are more photos below.
Mallows Bay is part of the Lower Potomac River Water Trail, which goes from Washington, D.C. to Chesapeake Bay.
The area is accessible only by boat; the Potomac shoreline here is in private ownership. The inaccessibility is part of its attraction as a dumping-ground for obsolete ships.
Attempts were made to salvage scrap iron from the ships during the Great Depression and the early 1940s. Bootleggers also favored Mallows Bay because it was easy to elude authorities among the shipwrecks.
The wooden steamship fleet was created by the U.S. government as an effort to preserve precious steel during World War I. The steamships were not practical, however, and many ended up parked at Mallows Bay. Salvage workers concentrated on the 20 tons of bolts in each ship. Access today is by shallow-draft boats such as canoes and sea kayaks.
Above: Satellite images of the ship graveyard.
In 2010, the Charles County Government opened a small park near Mallows Bay to improve access to the site. The boat ramp is located at 1440 Wilson Landing Road, Nanjemoy, MD. It is open 7 AM to dusk, year-round. The site is located about 2 miles upstream from Purse State Park. It is described on the publication Water Trails in Charles County.
In all, I give this location two thumbs up! Livi (mini me) and I had an amazing time and took a little one-on-one Memorial weekend time just to enjoy one another and the MD history around us.
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