Mallows Bay

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Mallows Bay
A shipwreck at Mallows Bay, February 2011
A shipwreck at Mallows Bay, February 2011
LocationCharles County, Maryland[1]
Surface elevation0 feet (0 m)[1]
Mallows Bay-Widewater Historic and Archeological District
Mallows Bay is located in Maryland
Mallows Bay
Mallows Bay is located in the United States
Mallows Bay
LocationOff Charles County shoreline at Sandy Pt.
Coordinates38°28′21.4″N 77°16′6.9″W / 38.472611°N 77.268583°W / 38.472611; -77.268583 (Mallows Bay, Potomac River, Maryland)Coordinates: 38°28′21.4″N 77°16′6.9″W / 38.472611°N 77.268583°W / 38.472611; -77.268583 (Mallows Bay, Potomac River, Maryland)[1]
NRHP reference #15000173
Added to NRHPApril 24, 2015
Aerial photograph 1936. Mallows Bay on Potomac River below Quantico and between Sandy Point and Liverpool Point.
Valuable maritime heritage
Almost submerged shipwrecks, February 2017

Mallows Bay is a small bay on the Maryland side of the Potomac River in Charles County, Maryland, USA. The bay is the location of what is regarded as the "largest shipwreck fleet in the Western Hemisphere"[2][3] and is described as a "ship graveyard."[4]

Charles County operates Mallows Bay Park (1440 Wilson Landing Road in Nanjemoy, Maryland). This small park contains the graves of more than 230 United States Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation ships sunk in the river. Almost ninety were poorly constructed steamships built during World War I; in 1925 they were burned and scuttled in the bay. Bethlehem Steel then built a salvage basin during World War II to recover metal from the abandoned ships. The ships form a reef that hosts an array of wildlife. A 0.8-mile trail loops around Mallows Bay Park and the salvage basin.[5]

In 2010, a boat ramp and pier for recreational use was constructed to provide access to the Potomac River at Mallows Bay. It is popular to canoe or kayak among the ship ruins.[6][7]

Mallows Bay was declared a National Marine Sanctuary in July 2019.[8]

Ghost fleet[edit]

The "Ghost Fleet" of Mallows Bay is a reference to the hundreds of ships whose remains still rest in the relatively shallow waters of Mallows Bay.[9][10]

Mallows Bay contains the largest collection of wrecks in the Western Hemisphere.[9] More than 100 of the vessels are wooden steamships, part of a fleet built to cross the Atlantic during World War I.[9] However, most of these ships were obsolete upon completion after the end of the war.[9] The most distinct ship seen at Mallows Bay is the S.S. Accomac.[11]

The ships were stored in the James River until they were sold to the Western Marine & Salvage Company.[9] The company moved the ships to the Potomac River at Widewater, Virginia and in 1925, they were towed to Mallows Bay.[9] Western Marine went bankrupt and the ships remained where they lay.[9]

The bay was listed as an archaeological and historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Mallows Bay
  2. ^ Shomette, Donald G. (Winter 2001). "The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay". The Maryland Natural Resource. Archived from the original on April 20, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ Shomette, Donald G. (Winter 1999). "The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay". Invention & Technology Magazine. 14 (3). Archived from the original on December 3, 2008. Retrieved December 19, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ United States Coast Pilot. 3 (43rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Ocean Service. 2010. p. 313. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
  5. ^ Peck, Garrett (2012). The Potomac River: A History and Guide. Charleston, SC: The History Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-1609496005.
  6. ^ "New Boat Ramp in Mallows Bay". Southern Maryland Living. May 12, 2010. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
  7. ^ "Mallows Bay" (PDF). Maryland Department of Natural Resources. July 19, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 19, 2011. Retrieved December 22, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ Katz, Brigit. "New National Marine Sanctuary Will Protect Maryland's 'Ghost Fleet'". Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Lutz, Lara (10 September 2014). "Ghost fleet may go from wrecks to recreation". Bay Journal. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  10. ^ Interesting, Sometimes (18 April 2013). "The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay". Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  11. ^ "This is the S.S. Accomac which began its career as - EyeEm". Retrieved 23 March 2017.

Further reading[edit]

Shomette, Donald. Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay and Other Tales of the Lost Chesapeake. Centreville, Maryland: Tidewater Publishers, 1996. ISBN 0870334808. OCLC 35103126.

External links[edit]