Rising Atlantic – Holland Maryland sunk
According to a story reported yesterday and today in the Washington Post, the island town of Holland Maryland is no more; it sank, submerged by rising waters. So, is this the outcome of global warming? There were once 60 homes out there, belonging to “watermen.”
One of my ancestral families, the Wallace’s came from there. They were oystermen. At some point in the early 1800’s they decided to head west. They went as far as the Great Lakes and Michigan before my Great Grandmother ended up in North Central Ohio, farming and with the only water nearby, the Whetstone Creek.
Anyway, I noted that the lost island is called Holland and of course, that raises the question, if Maryland’s Holland is lost, what about the Netherlands? Will they be able to hold back the seas with dikes and such or will global warming take its toll? If it happened to this Holland, what about the parent?
“The Last House Falls on a Sinking Chesapeake Bay Island
The last house on Holland Island has fallen.
The iconic wooden home, which became a symbol of the impact of rising sea levels and eroding land around the Chesapeake Bay, was knocked over by powerful winds over the weekend.
“It’s sad. In a relatively short period of time, Holland Island went from a thriving community to nothing,” said Shawn Ridgely, a Chesapeake Bay Foundation boat captain who leads educational expeditions in the Bay and photographed the house slumped over into the water this morning (picture above). “It’s mind-blowing to think that more than 100 years of memories have been wiped off the map."
The photo below shows what the house looked like this fall.
Holland Island is one of more than 500 Bay islands that have sunk beneath the waves over the last three centuries, according to author William B. Cronin's book, The Disappearing Islands of the Chesapeake. The islands vanished because of a combination of rising sea levels, erosion and the natural sinking of land around the Chesapeake region.
Some of these submerged places, like Holland and Barren islands, until the early 20th century held the Victorian homes, churches, and graveyards of oystermen. Others were hideouts for pirates and schemers – folks who wanted isolation so they could hunt illegally, gamble, and launch bizarre schemes like breeding black cats for profit, Cronin wrote.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Holland Island, located about a dozen miles northwest of Crisfield on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore, was home to more than 360 residents and about 70 homes and stores. It also had a two-room school house, community hall, church and championship baseball team.
Most of the Holland Island residents made a living by harvesting oysters in the winter and fishing and crabbing in the summer. Some also farmed wheat, fruit, vegetables and corn, according to Cronin’s book.
The island was about five miles long and one and a half miles wide. But over the decades, rising Bay waters and natural sinking of the land (a delayed response to the retreat of glaciers some 12,000 years ago) ate away at the island. By 1914, residents began fleeing -- moving their homes by boat off the island to Crisfield, Cambridge and elsewhere in Dorchester County. In August 1918, a tropical storm hit the Bay, nearly destroying the church and prompting the last families to leave by 1922, according to Cronin’s book.
As more and more houses disappeared under the water, a few people returned occasionally for crabbing and hunting. The last house on the island was used for a while as a hunting lodge. But then that, too, stopped. The island shrank to a marshy sliver of its former self.”