Part of the About Southern Maryland series
At the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland, visitors can explore how our prehistoric past, natural environments, and maritime heritage come together to tell a unique story of the Chesapeake Bay.
In the Exhibition Building, visitors can touch 20-million-year-old fossils taken from Calvert Cliffs, discover the ever-changing world of the bay, and learn how humans shaped and changed this region over time. In the Treasure from the Cliffs gallery, experience the ancient Miocene environment that existed in this area 8 to 20 million years ago. See hundreds of fossils from Calvert Cliffs and learn what these ancient clues teach us about our prehistoric past. See the recreated shark skeleton of Megalodon, a 37.5-foot super predator, and a whale skull discovered in a cliff after Hurricane Isabel.
In the 15-tank “Estuarium” you can explore the rich diversity of life that thrives in the brackish waters of the Chesapeake Bay and the fresh waters of the upper Patuxent River. Watch the river otters, Bubbles and Squeak, as they frolic and play. Learn about skates and rays in the Secrets of the Mermaid’s Purse exhibit. See live snakeheads in the new Eco-Invaders exhibit and discover what happens when plants and animals that don't belong are introduced into the environment.
Explore the story of people who settled along the Patuxent River from the 17th-century colonial period to the present in the maritime gallery, Maritime Patuxent: A River and Its People. Learn about colonial planters who packed their tobacco to be shipped by water, and follow the entrepreneurs, watermen, packing house workers, and craftsmen as they reshaped the economy of the region through the seafood and shipbuilding trades.
In the Discovery Room, children can identify and take home a fossil, climb a lighthouse and operate the light, hoist a sail in the seaworthy skiff, and touch horseshoe crabs, diamondback terrapins, or sea stars in the touchtank.
Experience maritime history by taking a cruise on the Patuxent River aboard the historic bugeye, Wm. B. Tennison, built in 1899. Then stop to tour the Drum Point Lighthouse, a cottage-style, screwpile lighthouse that dates from 1883. Stroll the marsh walk to see great blue heron, osprey, water snakes, fiddler crabs, and periwinkles in their natural habitat. On weekends, try your hand at rowing, or watch members of the model boat club race their radio-controlled models.
The museum also includes important historic buildings off site. Within walking distance of the museum is the J.C. Lore Oyster House, built in 1934. This historic landmark tells the story of oysters and the people who thrived by harvesting, processing, and distributing them to the world. Located 10 minutes north of the museum is Cove Point Lighthouse, Maryland’s oldest continuously operating lighthouse, built in 1828. The grounds are open daily from May to September from 1 to 4 p.m. to tour, and the Keeper’s home is now available to rent for a 3-, 4-, or 7-day family vacation.
The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission fees are $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and military with valid I.D., $2 for children age 5 to 12, and free for children age 4 and younger. One-hour cruises aboard the historic Wm. B. Tennison run Wednesday through Sunday, May through October, at 2 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday in July and August, there is a 12:30 p.m. cruise. The cost is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and those with a military ID, and $4 for children age 5 to 12 years old. For a complete listing of museum activities, events, and programs, please visit the website at www.calvertmarinemuseum.com or call 410-326-2042, ext. 17, for more information.