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Come see, honor your stateís birthplace

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on January 23, 2003:

Senator Dyson They were tired but eager, worried but hopeful, doubtful but idealistic. These were the first Maryland heroes arriving on March 25, 1634 on the shores of St. Clementís Island -- Marylandís birthplace. These colonists who would later establish the State of Maryland, left England to escape religious persecution.

They came to the New World on the Ark and the Dove to realize their dream of establishing a colony of religious toleration. And while it only lasted for a short time, they succeeded in setting a precedent that this country, the greatest in the world, enjoys today.

We have not forgotten those original colonists. Indeed, we have honored them for years. St. Clementís Island is a state park and just a mile away on shore sits the St. Clementís Island-Potomac River Museum.

I was deeply humbled to accept an appointment by the St. Maryís Board of County Commissioners in 1993 to serve on the museumís board of trustees.

Recently, this museum that honors and celebrates the history of the first landing of Marylandís first colonists and the mighty Potomac River, earned re-accreditation by the American Association of Museums. Accreditation is vital because it shows we have been given a stamp of approval by the AAM that we are doing all the right things to provide a quality product for all to savor.

Since the founding of the original museum, we have acquired the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Park, the Drayden African-American Schoolhouse and the U-1105, Black Panther German Submarine -- the first underwater historic shipwreck to be preserved.

The American Association of Museums re-accredited all of these historic sites which means that of the 18 accredited institutions in the State of Maryland, our Museum Division accounts for four of the 18, or 22 percent of all accredited institutions in the state.

The museum division has been a major success. The recent acquisition of the Piney Point Lighthouse has led to the creation of the Potomac River Maritime Museum. Lighthouses are tremendous tourist attractions and this has prove to be a major coup for the St. Clementís Island Potomac River Museum division. Attendance this year has been a whopping 3,599 people.

Boat attendance to the island has increased from 716 passengers in 2001 to 1,275 so far this year which is an increase of 56 percent. Those who take the boat out to the island tell me upon their return how awesome their experience was, walking the same place where Father Andrew White and Margaret Brent, Marylandís first female attorney and the first to ask for the right to vote, landed in 1634.

School visits to this most historic of sites has increased 24 percent and we are receiving more and more requests for visits than ever.

This year, 8,738 visitors have attended special activities or visited the museum. That number will go way up in October when we celebrate the annual Blessing of the Fleet.

If you live in this state, the greatest in the country, you are doing yourself a disservice by not coming to the museum and seeing all that it has to offer. Once you come to the end of the road in Coltonís Point and see that island sitting out there, it will be a sight you will never forget.

For more information regarding the museum division, call (301) 769-2222. The gracious staff will go out of their way to help you.

This is, in my opinion, the most underrated historical site in Maryland. History buffs who havenít been here are really missing out on something.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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