centuries of American history surround Point Lookout located on a
peninsula at the southern most tip of Maryland's Western Shore. Situated
on over 2,000 acres of land, marsh, and water, the park has been home to
colonists, revolutionaries, and thousands of soldiers. Point Lookout may
be far off the beaten path, but traveling down to this wonder of land,
sea, and sky for an afternoon or overnight is well worth the drive.
Foliage and watery landscape greet visitors at Point Lookout State Park.
Spending an afternoon biking along the park roads is like traveling back
in time to when Mary's Land was a wild and rustic place. Canoes skid
gently over the calm waters of Lake Conoy, seabirds swirl above catching
the updrafts in an aerial ballet never experienced by man. Point
Lookout has it all. And if you believe in the old adage, location,
location, location, the park couldn't have been planned any better than
if a modern day developer came up with the scheme.
"Perhaps the best part of our park is the uniqueness of the area," said
Park Manager Robin Melton. "From the shores we can watch the Maryland
Dove sail by and watch the big yachts head up the bay. It's the only
place you can go where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake, and we
have folks come from around the world to see it."
Melton has been a park ranger for over 13 years, and has spent the last
two years working at Point Lookout. Everyday she sees the park changing
as the tides wash in sand and change the peninsula with each passing
season. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has seen the value
of Point Lookout and continues to purchase surrounding property to
protect the park from encroaching development.
Point Lookout has deep roots in Southern Maryland history. Captain John
Smith noted the point's desirable location in his journals of
exploration in the early 1600s. Father Andrew Wight saw natives on the
point while traveling aboard the Dove as he and Maryland's first
settlers searched for a place to call home.
Lord Calvert used Point Lookout, then called St. Michael's Manor, as a
stopover for travelers from England. During wartime the point has served
as a lookout station for sighting ships traversing the Chesapeake.
Throughout history, Point Lookout has served in such varied roles as
hotel resort and military prison.
The U.S. Government built Point Lookout Lighthouse in the early 1800s
after many shipping owners lost cargo and crew to shipwrecks along the
shoal. Lighthouse designer and builder John Donohoo had plans to
construct both a keeper house and adjacent light in 1830 but budget
constraints kept the structure to a single house with a light atop. The
structure exists much like it was in the 1800s though a second story was
added in later years to accommodate light keepers and their families
that include generations of the Yeatman family of Southern Maryland. The
lighthouse is now owned by the U.S. Navy and is not open to tourists.
Point Lookout served the Union Army during the Civil War as a fort,
hospital, and prison encampment. Local legend says ghosts of soldiers
who died at Fort Lincoln still wander the grounds. Park guests as well
as rangers have reported apparitions and when professional ghost hunters
came to record paranormal data at the lighthouse in the 1970s, voices
were heard laughing, singing, and cussing.
After the Civil War, Point Lookout slowly was returned to its resort
status with a grand hotel built on site in the 1920s. In 1965, the state
of Maryland purchased the land to create a state park. Today, visitors
can overnight in the waterfront cottages and campsites that accommodate
RV's to 32 feet. Night fishing is popular with anglers catching
rockfish, croakers, bluefish and an occasional flounder from the
shallows. Small boat rentals from the racks at the well provisioned boat
and camp store provide guests the chance to paddle into the protected
waters of Lake Conoy, on the Potomac River side.
Amateur historians will feel a sense of past and place on the grounds
of Point Lookout. Park Rangers provide detailed maps at the park
headquarters at the main entrance. Brochures and flyers provide
information on the historical events and upcoming attractions. A visit
to Point Lookout in St. Mary's County is a way to make a true Southern