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Anyone who has watched the sun as it sets over Dobbins Island understands the appeal of the Magothy River lifestyle. The river is revered as an integral part of local residents’ tradition and culture. Nestled between the Patapsco and Severn Rivers in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County, this tiny waterway measures only six miles in length, but its impact on the area is huge.
The Magothy River’s formation at the end of the Ice Age served the area’s Native Americans well for both fishing and harvesting oysters from the Chesapeake Bay. It wasn’t until the 19th century, though, that the locality began to gain in popularity. That’s when the riverfront became a favored destination for residents of nearby Baltimore who were looking for a summer place to swim and relax. The easy access provided by the establishment of the Stoney Creek and Rock Creek steamship companies in the 1880s made it simple for day-trippers to make the journey.
By the early 1900s, numerous resorts had sprung up on the shoreline to serve these visitors, but things began to change in the middle of the 20th century. Picnic pavilions and amusement parks gave way to housing developments as the metropolitan areas of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., began to grow. Today, the Magothy River area has been transformed into one of Anne Arundel County’s most desirable residential neighborhoods.
Its most precious asset remains, of course, its numerous waterways, wetlands and bogs. Although public access is now restricted, the riverfront, so quiet during the winter months, springs to life with the coming of warm weather. That’s when the boaters arrive.
Sport fishermen, too, find the Magothy particularly alluring. They are attracted mainly by the wide variety of fish that includes, among others, white perch, striped bass, eel and bluefish.
One very popular event, Magothy River Day, draws hundreds of attendees each year. They arrive by boat, raft, kayak and jet ski to join in the fun of what has been called a bumper bash boat fest in family style. The occasion traditionally features day-long live entertainment by the music of the Nautical Wheelers. While children play and swim off the shores of Dobbins Island, others party and picnic together on the many rafted boats.
The River Day celebration is said to epitomize the true essence of the locality’s lifestyle, and once you’ve seen the area, you’ll agree: There is no place on earth quite like the Magothy River.