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Holland Island: The Sunken Town Was Famous For This 'Last House'

Dominic Horner 5-6 minutes 6/26/2022

Maryland is home to dozens of islands that make it a tourism hub. From large habitable islands to small and extreme islets, there is virtually everything for the average Maryland vacationer to explore.

However, there is one thing about this destination that most vacationers don’t know, and that’s the story behind the regions disappearing islands. The key highlight, in this case, is Holland Island, which currently exists as underwater ruins in the Chesapeake Bay.

This is the mysterious story surrounding the sunken Holland Island.

Holland Island’s History

Holland Island’s rich history is part of the reasons why it is still rated highly years after sinking. The original settlement of the island is traced back to the 17th century. It is named after its initial owner, Daniel Holland, a British colonialist.

The island remained dormant for close to two centuries up to the late 1850s. Later, the island became a bit more vibrant thanks to its increased fishing activities. Fishing communities began forming on the island and by the start of the 20th century, it was among the most overcrowded islands in the region.

All this time, there were no concerns about the island’s shrinking space. After all, it was thriving economically and there was nothing much to worry about. Crab trapping and oyster dredging were the top activities that woke the island from its slumber.

It was not until 1914 that some significant loss of shoreline was noticed. By then, the resident fishermen had started moving to the mainland. The remaining few tried all they could to save the shores from being consumed further by the hard-hitting waves. Fishermen went as far as sinking their boats in an attempt to minimize the erosion.

With all the boats sank in there, fish around the former Holland Island had an incredible breeding ground. When people realized nothing could save the island from sinking, it was left untouched until 1995 when it was purchased by a church minister in an attempt to save it.

Mr. Stephen White, the said church minister threw everything he could to no avail. From laying sandbags to sinking huge rocks from the mainland, nothing seemed to stop the shoreline from advancing further.

The sinking of the island was inevitable. Even after all the efforts, ocean waters still kept encroaching, which rendered the area a no-go zone. The surviving birds also had no place to call home other than the last-standing house. The house held intact until its eventual collapse in 2010.

Holland Island Today

What is there to explore on Holland Island today? Sadly, there is nothing for adventures to explore in this part of the world apart from its history. When the last house was still intact, the region was rife with tourism activities. Vacationers wanted to be part of history. True to it, those who had a chance treasured the experience.

The most recent memory vacationers can have about this island is the pictures taken shortly before it collapsed. When Mr. White realized that there was nothing more he could do, he sold the island to a foundation that would later call for aerial photography of the ‘last house’. The collapse of the house in October 2010 meant that the pictures taken were the only proof that the island once existed.

Vacationers who were lucky to visit the site a year after the collapse had incredible sightings of the debris. After that, the island was gone never to be seen again. Nevertheless, Google still has early images that show the exact location of the debris. However, vacationers cannot see anything since the area lacks clear waters.

Holland Island Vacationing Tips

Before its eventual collapse in 2010, Holland Island was a good option for adventures who wanted to pack and go away from the mainland for the better part of the day. However, vacationers were not allowed to set foot on the island for safety reasons. Even if they were let to, there could be nowhere to go.

After the last house was fully submerged in 2012, there is nothing much vacationers can do in this part of the world. Focus now shifts to other islands in Maryland. After all, none of them is safe. With the state losing a large portion of the shoreline to erosion by overly-aggressive waves, it is only right for vacationers to make time for the existing islands before it is too late.

Although Holland Island is long gone, its memories shall live forever. Vacationers who didn’t get a chance to view the island while it was still floating have a chance to do it through the A Rising Tide in the Heart of Chesapeake Bay program. Through the program, vacationers are exposed to exclusive photos of the ‘Last House’.

Vacationers are also advised to read a book or two about the unfolding mystery beneath the Maryland Sea.

Holland Island is best suited for vacationers willing to experience a different kind of adventure. The experience here is more about historical events than physical structures. Vacationers with interests in geography and geology have a lot to write after a successful Holland Island adventure.