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If you drive from the U.S. Capitol heading east on Pennsylvania Avenue and follow it as it turns south and becomes Maryland’s Route 4 — Southern Maryland Boulevard — you would eventually see the Patuxent River and Solomons Island. This is where Calvert County ends.
“Solomons Island is located at the tip… the southern tip of Calvert County, which is a peninsula located between the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay,” says 67-year-old resident Anita Shepherd.
From the beginning, it was isolated, but because of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, the island’s original incarnation was as an oyster and fishing village.
“Solomons Island was basically established as a community in 1865 when Isaac Solomon purchased land. He came from Baltimore. He established a cannery and then it became a fishing village… an oyster village. It became a post office from the United States Postal Service in 1870,” Shepherd relates.
Although originally fishing and oysters were a big business, Solomons Island remained isolated for decades. The island was — literally — at the “end of the road,” until Maryland decided to build a bridge over the Patuxent River.
Shepherd explains, “Solomons Island is a unique community. It is not a community that was built by a developer with named streets. It has evolved. It was originally a fishermen’s community. It was very isolated, and over the years, especially since the Thomas Johnson Bridge was built in 1977, and since the four-lane highway was opened, it has attracted many more people who like living on the water.”
A big bonus of living on the water is having beautiful views, according to Shepherd.
“We have immensely, fantastically gorgeous sunsets here which my grandchildren love to point out to me, ‘Let’s watch the sunset.’ We watch people drive by, pull over their cars, get out and take pictures of the sunset. We have gorgeous fogs. We love watching oystermen in the wintertime, and this winter for the first time in many, many years, we even had ice flows on the river.”
In spite of the sunsets, the fogs, the oystermen and the beauty of island life, the community has remained small and compact.
“It is a walking community. It is a very small population. The island itself — under 100 a people live on the island. It’s a place where everyone knows your name.”
And where everyone knows about the sunsets.
Kent Island is one of the oldest English settlements in Maryland. And according to 81-year-old William Ericson Denny III, who lives in the island's community of Stevensville, says that William Claiborne settled it in 1634.
"He actually called it the Isle of Kent, because he came from Kent, England."
Denny says that the island's history, located in the Chesapeake Bay at the foot of the Bay Bridge, is just one of the facets people flock to. "Some people are interested in going swimming in Ocean City or Rehobeth," he says. "But you can do the same thing right here on Kent Island."
And even though the island has witnessed a lot of history, it also sees a lot of change.
"In the wintertime you have a lot of geese, and a lot of Canadian geese, a lot of snow geese," he says. "And they stay here all winter and go back when the temperature changes."
Denny believes the island's change is its charm.
"You're looking at a changing part of nature," he says. "And that's what makes it so beautiful because your pictures of Kent Island change every hour or half hour and to me that's wonderful."
Music: "No, Girl" by Title Tracks from It Was Easy / "The Lighthouse's Tale" by Nickel Creek from Nickel Creek
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