Kayakers visit a wrecked WWI vessel at Mallows Bay Park in Charles County, Md. on the Potomac River on August 8, 2015. Mallows Bay Park is home to numerous sunken wartime ships. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

The 2018 celebration of Veterans Day will not only honor the brave men and women who have served our country but will mark the centenary of the First World War. World War I formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 and President Woodrow Wilson established November 11 as Armistice Day the following year. The day was re-designated as Veterans Day in 1954 to honor the veterans of all wars.

The Chesapeake Bay is home to a small piece of World War I history. Mallows Bay, along the Potomac River, is the final resting place for more than 200 historic shipwrecks dating back to the Revolutionary War. Commonly referred to as the “Ghost Fleet” of Mallows Bay, it is the largest collection of shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere.

More than 100 of these vessels are wooden and composite steamboats that were part of the U.S. Emergency Fleet between 1917 and 1919 that were built to cross the Atlantic during World War I. However, by the time they were complete, the war was ending, and they were considered obsolete. They were then either sold, scrapped for materials, burned or sunk in Mallows Bay.

In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced its intent to designate Mallows Bay as a national marine sanctuary to help conserve these nationally-significant shipwrecks and its related maritime heritage.

Today, Mallows Bay is a prime destination for kayakers, bird-watchers and anglers to visit and check out the Ghost Fleet, view bald eagles and herons, fish for striped bass and go crabbing.

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Carla Tomaszewski

You forgot to mention our WWII Potomac River history here in St. Mary's County. In Piney Point, we not only have the remains of a Navy torpedo testing range, but we have also a sunken German U-boat (submarine) out in the middle of the Potomac which is a National Park Service underwater site which can be visited! The history is displayed at the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum on the Potomac River in southern St. Mary's County.

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