Solomons Island Harbor
Review and History

Solomons Island Harbor is a village of about 1800 people. Located about three river miles from the mouth of the Patuxent River where it flows into the Chesapeake Bay, Solomons Island Harbor is a popular destination for people from the Washington DC and Baltimore areas. Solomons Island Harbor is 2.6 river miles (6 kilometers or 3.9 miles by air) from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. It is some 45 nautical miles (73 kilometers or 46 miles by air) south of Maryland's capital, Annapolis.

Port History

When Europeans arrived in the Solomons Island Harbor area, the Piscataway tribe was the dominant group of indigenous people. They were descended from people that had lived there for 15 thousand years. The tribe had a top chief, or Tayac, above "werowance," chiefs of the settlements under the Tayac's sphere of influence.

Piscataway villages in the area of the future Solomons Island Harbor were occupied year-round only by young children and the elderly. Most Nannuock lived in seasonal camps from which the people hunted, cured hides, and planned their next move. The clan was a more permanent aspect of life than the village.

Captain John Smith from England visited the Solomons Island Harbor area in 1608. The Tayac at first thought the new European settlers would be allies, and he granted them a settlement they called St. Mary's City. The Tayac converted to Christianity in 1634, and his daughter married Englishman Giles Brent.

While they are not a recognized tribe by State or Federal government, descendants of the Piscataway continued to live in southern Maryland. However, the few families that remained faced significant discrimination. When Maryland dissolved Indian reservations in the 18th Century, they reclassified the Piscataway as "free people of color."

Today, the Piscataway are an emerging as a sovereign Nation in its Chesapeake region homeland. Members of the Piscataway Nation are counted within the 25 thousand indigenous people in the State of Maryland.

The first settlers in the future Solomons Island Harbor called it Bourne's Island. By the mid-18th Century, the name was Somervell's Island. In the 19th Century, it was renamed Solomons Island after businessman Isaac Solomon from Baltimore who built a cannery there after the Civil War.

In the 19th Century, Solomons Island Harbor had several shipyards that supported the fishing fleet. The Marsh Shipyard built sloops and schooners, but it was known for its bugeyes, the predecessor to the regional skipjack.

During the War of 1812, a flotilla set sail from Solomons Island Harbor to attack British ships on the Chesapeake Bay. The natural protected deep harbor then became a busy marine center.

A typical tidewater community for the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, Solomons Island Harbor was an isolated self-sufficient and close-knot community. The town's baseball team competed against neighboring communities. In the winter, ice skating was the popular sport in Solomons Island Harbor.

Telephones came to town in 1899. The first automobile came to Solomons Island Harbor in 1910, and life began to change. When the State built a road from Solomons Island Harbor to the county seat of Prince Frederick in 1915, the community's isolation began to end.

The beginning of the 20th Century brought prosperity to Solomons Island Harbor, but later, declining fish production and oyster harvests brought economic decline. As workers moved to find work elsewhere, local boatyards began to close or to turn to other types of vessels like custom-made yachts. The Great Depression devastated the local economy in Solomons Island Harbor.

During World War II, Solomons Island Harbor was a site for training troops who would engage in amphibious invasions. The lessons they learned would later prove valuable in military operations on D-Day and at Tarawa and Guadalcanal. Three facilities were built near the mouth of the Patuxent, creating jobs and a population "boom." More than 60 thousand military personnel were trained at Solomons Island Harbor during the war, and their presence attracted about 2300 new residents to Solomons Island Harbor. In addition to the Naval Amphibious Training Base at Solomons Island Harbor, it contained a Naval Mine Warfare Test Station, a Mine Warfare Experimental Station, and a Naval Dispensary.

After the war, the community of Solomons Island Harbor began to transform as into a weekend destination for affluent Baltimore and Washington residents. The attractions are the waters and the marinas. Today, tourism is the mainstay of the Solomons Island Harbor economy.

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