Bay Journal

Kent Mountford

Slowly but surely, sea-level rise lays claim to Osborn Cove

After the 1907–08 survey of the lower Patuxent concluded in cold December weather, (See "Past is Prologue," November 2012) the mapping of St. Leonard Creek and Osborn Cove went to sleep again, while technology advanced another couple of decades.

By 1920, the U.S. government was surveying and photographing coast shoreline from airplanes — only 16 years after Wilbur and Orville...

Young surveyors learn to measure up on 1907–08 Patuxent cruise

St. Leonard's Creek on the Patuxent, the Chesapeake's sixth largest river, was formed by the slow inundation of a forested valley as sea levels rose and land subsided during and after the melt of great continental glaciers. The process, which commenced 12,000–14,000 years ago when the coast was far to the east, filled St. Leonard's nooks and crannies and formed Osborn Cove.


From plow furrows to peach trees, early Patuxent River survey had it all

R.D. Cutts stepped lightly ashore from the longboat carrying his transit and tripod. No wet feet this morning, he thought, and the men backed their oars and set out stroking for the far shore of wide, tidal St. Leonard Creek. He'd been doing this work for the Coast Survey since 1845 and knew the drill well.

Bricks reveal foundations of early Bay buildings from ground up

After decades of studying the early colonization of the Chesapeake region, I still stand in awe of those men who stepped off their ships with axes, shovels and a few saws to face an immense forest from which they had to fashion structures that allowed some of them to survive the hard winter.

Agnes’ impact still haunts parts of the Chesapeake 40 years later

Tom Horton called this March in his effort to reach out to those who still remember Tropical Storm Agnes and who “still had at least some of their marbles.”

“This was,” he said, “the first Chesapeake article I’d written for the Baltimore Sun.” I wrote him this letter, and we agreed that it should be this month’s “Past as Prologue.”

Has it been 40 years, Tom? Can’t be that...

Aquia Freestone, the backbone of our capital’s majestic architecture

When Capt. John Smith and his crew explored the Chesapeake during summer and fall of 1608, he "fell in with the river Potomac" on the 16th of June and explored the river and its tributaries until the 10th or perhaps 14th of July. Smith's recording of dates was spotty, and in writing of these events in our book, "John Smith's Chesapeake Voyages, 1607-1609," my co-authors and I...

Warner Johnson navigated whatever storm life put in his path

Editor's Note: This is the second of a two-part series detailing the 1939 Potomac voyage of Warner Johnson and his fellow Sea Scouts. The first article appeared in April 2012.

With Kinsale, VA, behind them, the crews of the Sea Scout catboats Bobcat and Wildcat next headed down the Potomac. A strong northwest wind favored their journey, and according to Warner Johnson's...

Potomac provided adventure of a lifetime for 1939 Sea Scouts

When my wife, Nancy, and I first arrived in a rural area of Southern Maryland 40 years ago, we set out to find a local physician. Our young neighbor informed us, "My father's a doctor, everybody likes him."

And that is how we met Dr. Fred Johnson, whose practice was located by the nearly abandoned railroad tracks in La Plata. We learned that Johnson was descended from Col....

David Flemer, in studying tiny plankton, was able to see Bay’s big picture

Events far in the past conspire to bring us David A. Flemer's story and reveal his deep relationship to the Chesapeake, but before we go too far, a little background is in order.

After Maryland was settled in 1634, Lord Baltimore took possession of a wide swath of land east of the Patuxent River and called it Eltonhead Manor. He parceled out lands under patent from this largess...

Arrows point to technically skilled native cultures

The December Past is Prologue focused on the bow, but where would the bow be without the arrow?


My Uncle Frank Mountford said that in his time as a serious archer - during the 1940s and '50s - "we made our own arrows. It was part of the sport and the skill in straightening, finishing and fletching them was an expression of our skill as much as shooting well on a target."

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About Kent Mountford

Kent Mountford's avatar

Dr. Kent Mountford is senior scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Program in Annapolis.


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