Patapsco Valley State Park Welcomes The Spirit Of 1608

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Patapsco Valley State ParkReproduction of Captain John Smith’s Barge & Re-enactors Mark Historical Visit June 28 & 29

Ellicott City — Patapsco Valley State Park welcomes visitors to witness a piece of Maryland history when The Spirit of 1608, a reproduction of the barge that Captain John Smith used during his exploration of the Chesapeake Bay in 1608, visits the Avalon Area of the park on June 28 and 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteer re-enactors accompanying The Spirit of 1608 will offer a historical interpretation of Captain Smith and his Jamestown crew, allowing visitors to enhance their understanding of Smith’s legendary Chesapeake journey.

“Captain John Smith referred to the vessel as his “discovery barge” and kept a detailed journal tracking his discoveries. In one of his accounts of encounters with local wildlife, Smith refers to Patapsco River as the ‘Bolus’ River, and is said to have sailed as far north as modern-day Elkridge,” said DNR State Park Historian, Ross Kimmel.

Smith and a crew of 14 set out to explore uncharted waters in search of gold and the mythical northwest passage, a navigable route across the American continent that 17th-century Europeans believed would provide a shorter path to the riches of the Orient.. While no gold was found in the Chesapeake, the waterway did provide treasured stocks of oysters, crabs, and rockfish that fed our nation for centuries.

Created entirely by volunteers of the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum, the barge was constructed based on research of historical narratives, diaries, and eyewitness accounts of Colonists. The boat is roughly 28 feet in length, with a bluff bow and wineglass stern. She carries a main sail and jib and primarily powered by oars. It took 63 RFM volunteers 4,000 hours to complete the vessel since the keel was first laid on January 17, 2006.

“Virtually all timber used to construct the barge fell during Hurricane Isabel in 2003,” said Executive Director of Reedville Fishermen’s Museum, Chuck Backus. “Our volunteers have taken a tragedy and turned into this great success.”

For more information about The Spirit of 1608, visit

Maryland’s first state park, established in 1907, Patapsco Valley State Park lies in a steep river valley and extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River. The river valley and its natural resources have long been enjoyed by the Native Americans, explorers and settlers as well as present-day citizens and is nationally renowned for its beautiful scenery. For directions and more information, visit