Port Tobacco, MD Archeological Dig

May 31, 2009 16:16 – 16:16

After a compelling all-music service at MVUC this morning—featuring a brass quintet from the U.S. Marine Band (President’s Own Honor Band)—Karen & I decided to head over to Johnny Boy’s in La Plata, MD for some BBQ. Their BBQ is always good, and today was no exception.

After lunch, we decided to explore a couple of places, signs for which we’ve seen, but which we’d never taken the time to explore before. First, we took the road for Port Tobacco. Port Tobacco was the site of a pre-colonial native American village, as well as a series of colonial and American settlements. 400 years ago, the Port Tobacco River ran through there, and Captain John Smith sailed up the river and made landfall. Long story short… they tried to baptize and enslave the native Americans, who decided to leave, so that the next time the colonists visited, no native Americans were to be found.

Over the years, the river—which was very close to the Potomac—filled in with silt, and does not really exist anymore. Amid the layers of silt, however, are centuries of debris from human habitation. Currently, there are a few modern houses there, as well as a restored courthouse.

During the 1860s war, Port Tobacco was the scene of the search for John Wilkes Booth.

Currently, an archeological dig is happening there. Archeologists and volunteers from the MD and Charles County Archeological Societies are sifting through a number of areas that have been exposed. They’re finding bricks, post holes from earlier construction, glassware, ceramics, nails, jewelry, arrowheads, pre-colonial tools, and other artifacts from at least the past 500 years. The work is being conducted largely by Heidelberg University (in NW Ohio). Here, the people just left of center are sifting through buckets of debris. They were picking out nails, bone, brick, shells (mostly oyster), pottery shards, and other pieces of history.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten to take along either of my good cameras. This left me at the mercy of my new cell phone. Fortunately, my new cell phone has a 5 megapixel camera, and as it turns out, it does a pretty darn good job. This was my first time using it for anything significant. Had I known the pictures would turn out so well, I would have taken a lot more.

After Port Tobacco, we drove past historic St. Ignatius Church, and then headed to the Mount Carmel Monastery. If I’d known the pictures from my cell phone were going to turn out so well, I’d have take some of the church and monastery. Alas, I didn’t. Next time, perhaps.

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