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Port Tobacco

As a place, it was never truly 'lost', however, knowledge about Port Tobacco's successive iterations of life have been forgotten. Founded at least as early as the 1720s, this quiet little village once was a bustling port town filled with shops and dwellings and warehouses. But the town's life-blood, the navigable Port Tobacco River, filled with silt from the eroding lands of neighboring farms. The town declined after the Revolutionary War but revived again after the War of 1812, giving up its status as the County seat in 1895 to the newly created town of La Plata. Despite economic misfortune and devastating hurricanes, some residents remained and their descendants, joined by some newcomers, have kept this community alive.

Just click
on the sitesunderline

in the map and discover...

PT Town map

The Port Tobacco Archaeology Project—a partnership between independent professional archaeologists and the Charles County Archaeological Society of Maryland— formed in 2007 to explore and document the changing face of this unusual urban place. Four years of survey and test excavations have revealed aspects of the town's inventing, and reinventing, itself. While the investigations are far from complete, each new archaeological inquiry reveals more and more about this, at times, bustling town.

The Port Tobacco Archaeological Project, sponsored by governmental agencies and private organizations (see sponsor list), is committed to working with local residents and volunteers to explore the 60-acre town site for the remains of scores of buildings that once stood, some perhaps dating as early as the late 1600s.

Project staff and volunteers surveyed most of the town site in 2007 and recently completed a survey of all of the fields between Port Tobacco and Warehouse Point, about a mile to the south. The surveys resulted in the identification of eight or more Colonial period sites, including at least two that predate Port Tobacco, and as many Native American sites, one of which may have been occupied at when Europeans first settled the area.


Port Tobacco in 1797

Morgan Jones sherds

The following are period descriptions of Port Tobacco below. See how they compare to the map above by clicking on the various sites.

"Port Tobacco contains about eighty houses; most of which are of wood, and very poor. There is a large English episcopalian church on the border of the town, built of stone, which formerly was an ornament to the place, but is now entirely out of repair; the windows are all broken, and the road is carried through the church-yard, over the graves, the paling that surrounded it having been torn down."(137-138)

"From Port Tobacco to Hoe's Ferry, on the Patowmac [sic] River, the country is flat and sandy, and wears a most dreary aspect. Nothing is to be seen here for miles together but extensive plains, that have been worn out by the culture of tobacco, overgrown with yellow sedge, and interspersed with groves of pine and cedar trees, the dark green color of which forms a curious contrast with the yellow sedge. In the midst of these plains are the remains of several good houses, which shew [sic] that the country was once very different to what it is now. There were the houses, most probably, of the people who originally settled in Maryland with Lord Baltimore, but which have now been suffered to go to decay, as the land around them is worn out, and the people find it more to their interest to remove to another part of their country, and clear a piece of rich land, than to attempt to reclaim these exhausted plains. In consequence of this, the country in many of the lower parts of Maryland appears as if it had been deserted by one half of its inhabitants"; (138-189)

Source: Weld, Isaac (1807) Travels through the States of North America and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada During the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797. London, John Stockdale.

Think about whether you would like to join us in this exciting project. You can contact us through this website, or simply click this address and send us an e-mail: JamesGGibb@verizon.net

Also, check out our blog of previous excavations by The Port Tobacco Archaeological Project: http://porttobacco.blogspot.com/


Please visit the Sponsors of the Port Tobacco Archaeological Project