History of the Jug Bay Area

Rivers must have been the guides which conducted the footsteps of the first travellers. They are the constant lure . . . the natural highways of all nations. - Henry David Thoreau

Flowing through a densely forested landscape, the Patuxent was indeed a natural highway for travelers: Native Americans navigated the river in dugout canoes, and Europeans explored unknown territory in ocean-going vessels. As colonists gradually cleared the land, the river remained the most convenient, economical means for travel and commerce. Sailing ships loaded with hogsheads of Maryland-grown tobacco set out for England. Warships, steamboats carrying passengers as well as freight, and rail hunters in shallow boats traveled the Patuxent channel and its creeks. Not only did the Patuxent River and its abundant resources guide the course of local history, but  the course of events also greatly affected the river. 

  • A rich archaeological history tells the story of Native Americans living at Jug Bay nearly 10,000 years ago.   Pig Point, only a mile from the Sanctuary, contains Maryland's oldest archaeological artifacts.
  • In 1608, Captain John Smith  explored the Chesapeake Bay and sailed up the Patuxent River. His claim that "Heaven and Earth never agreed better to frame a place for Man's habitation" lured many English colonists to America.

  • The last stand of Captain Joshua Barney's Fleet in the War of 1812 took place a few miles upriver of the Sanctuary.

  • During the Age of Steam, economics drove more changes to Jug Bay.

  • More recently, Jug Bay has been influenced by local landowners, including John R. Riggleman and his wife Grace. The Rigglemans purchased Jug Bay Farm along the Patuxent River in 1942. The farm totals more than 300 acres of forest, farmland, and it includes a small vineyard. Jug Bay Farm was purchased by Anne Arundel County in 2004 and will be under Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary's management starting in March 2019.

Aerial view of the Jug Bay area. Photo by Al Luchenback.