Magothy River

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Magothy River
Magoty River
Country United States
State Maryland
District Anne Arundel County
Source Lake Waterford
 - elevation 10 ft (3 m)
 - coordinates 39°6′52″N 76°33′34″W / 39.11444°N 76.55944°W / 39.11444; -76.55944
Mouth Chesapeake Bay
 - elevation 0 ft (0 m)
 - coordinates 39°3′22″N 76°26′4″W / 39.05611°N 76.43444°W / 39.05611; -76.43444Coordinates: 39°3′22″N 76°26′4″W / 39.05611°N 76.43444°W / 39.05611; -76.43444
Length 12.1 mi (19 km)
Basin 44 sq mi (114 km2)

The Magothy River runs 12.1 miles (19.5 km)[1] through Anne Arundel County in the U.S. state of Maryland. It is located south of the Patapsco River and north of the Severn River. The Little Magothy River is considered part of the Magothy watershed, even though the mouth of the Little Magothy is outside the mouth of the Magothy.


The Magothy is a relatively small, mostly tidal river with a watershed area (including the water surface) of 44 square miles (110 km2), or 35 square miles (91 km2) of land. Thus, its total watershed area is 20% water. It starts in Anne Arundel County in Elvaton Park in Millersville, and flows into Chesapeake Bay next to Gibson Island. It is probably best known among recreational boaters for the popular anchorage behind Dobbins Island. Its navigable tidal portion is crossed by one bridge, located on Magothy Bridge Road in Pasadena. Its upper, nontidal portion is called Magothy Branch, and is dammed at MD 648 (Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard) to form Lake Waterford (there was an old mill dam at the same site). Some of the creeks on its south shore drain highly developed portions of Severna Park and Arnold, especially North Cypress Creek, which drains much of the Park Plaza and Giant shopping centers along Ritchie Highway north of McKinsey Road.

The Baltimore Light Station marks the mouth of the river.


The river was originally called "Magoty River" or "Maggotty River", possibly for the larvae of mosquitoes in the area.[2]

Magothy River Association[edit]

In 1946, the Magothy River Association (MRA) was formed by the residents to prevent the river from becoming a Navy seaplane base.[3] Today this organization concentrates on issues concerning land use, water quality monitoring, fish habitat and reforestation programs. Volunteer scientific divers were organized in 1998 and assist with the restoration and management of underwater grasses and oyster habitats.[3][4]

Water quality[edit]

The aquatic health of the Magothy River has been declining in recent years. In 2008 the river was given a health rating of 30%, down from 42% in 2007 and 65% in 2004.[5] The river's overall health score was determined by three contributing factors: underwater grasses, water clarity, and dissolved oxygen. The Magothy scored below par in all three of these categories, the worst of which being the underwater grasses. The Magothy had 90 acres (0.36 km2) of underwater grass mapped in 2008, achieving only 15% of the goal of 579 acres (2.34 km2). The water clarity status in 2008 was only slightly better than SAV status, with 19% of measurements exceeding the 0.97 meter depth which allows underwater grasses enough sunlight to grow, down from 44% in 2007. The Magothy scored the best in 2008 for dissolved oxygen; 55% of measurements exceeded its goal of 5 milligrams per liter, down from 69% in 2007.[6]

Creeks and tidal coves[edit]

Almost all of the creeks and tidal coves on the Magothy are named, as the result of a project started in 2001 by the Magothy River Association, and funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust. They are shown on this map produced as part of that project,[7] and the major ones are shown on this topographic map.[8]

There are nine creeks along the Upper Magothy River. None of them are navigable so none are shown on any published maps, except the map produced by the Magothy River Association. All have historical names except where noted.

  • Magothy Branch (nontidal upper Magothy, drains to Lake Waterford)

North shore, upriver to downriver:

  • Muddy Run
  • Bailys Branch
  • Brookfield Branch (nearest community)
  • Beachwood Branch (nearest community)
  • Indian Village Branch (nearest community; mouth hard to see)

South shore, upriver to downriver:

  • Kinder Branch (starts in Kinder Park, drains to Lake Waterford)
  • Rouses Branch (also starts in Kinder Park and drains to Lake Waterford)
  • Nannys Creek (mouth hard to see)

From Cockey and Old Man creeks downriver, most of the creeks and coves are navigable. Thus, most of them have names on published maps, since they have been named for longer.

On the north shore, from upriver to downriver, the navigable, named creeks and tidal ponds are:

  • Cockey Creek
  • Ross Cove
  • Blackhole Creek
  • Broad Creek
  • Park Lake
  • Park Creek
  • Dobbins Pond
  • Long Cove
  • Grays Creek (with north & south branches)
  • Cornfield Creek
  • James Pond
  • Redhouse Cove

On the south shore, from upriver to downriver, the navigable, named creeks and tidal ponds are:

  • Old Man Creek
  • Tar Hill Cove
  • Cattail Creek (includes Cold Spring Cove)
  • Cypress Creek (including North Cypress Creek and Browns Cove)
  • Dividing Creek (includes Buckinghams Cove)
  • Mill Creek
  • Spriggs Pond
  • Bohdal Pond
  • Forked Creek (includes Cool Spring Cove)
  • Scheides Cove
  • Lake Placid
  • Deep Creek
  • Little Magothy River

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed April 1, 2011
  2. ^ "Magothy River". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  3. ^ a b Carey, Richard B; Ducey, Richard V. (2005). "Community Science – Recruiting, Training & Leading Scientific Dive Teams: Transects, Quadrats, Lift Bags and Science to 'Save the Bay'". In: Godfrey, JM; Shumway, SE. Diving For Science 2005. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences Symposium on March 10–12, 2005 at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point, Groton, Connecticut. (American Academy of Underwater Sciences). Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  4. ^ Carey, R; Ducey, RV; Winter, C; Kelty, M; Hornor, S; Macphail, B (2009). "Community Science for In-Shore Marine Resource Management Building a Toolkit Drawing on the Magothy River Association Experience". In: Pollock NW, ed. Diving for Science 2009. Proceedings of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences 28th Symposium. Dauphin Island, AL (American Academy of Underwater Sciences). Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  5. ^ Magothy health declines : Annual report finds underwater grasses vanishing, Annapolis Capital, 2-20-08
  6. ^ The Magothy River Index
  7. ^ Magothy River map: Map made in 2004 by the Magothy River Association, shows names of most creeks and other water bodies
  8. ^ topo map of Magothy
  • Marianne Taylor, My River Speaks: The History and Lore of the Magothy River (Arnold, MD: Bay Media, 1998) ISBN 0-9665239-0-3
  • MAGOTHY RIVER WATERSHED RESTORATION STRATEGY, Anne Arundel County Office of Environmental & Cultural Resources, July, 2005.

External links[edit]