Local History: Crabs, Fish Thrive in Clear Magothy River

Local crabbers in the 1930s remember a Magothy River so clear you could see the bottom.

Here’s a dose of some local history thanks to The Pasadena Peninsula by Isabel Shipley Cunningham.

Many people in Anne Arundel County during the 1930s made a living by farming, but a few took to the water. John Dreyer used his entire family to help catch crabs and earn their living.

Dreyer's son and five daughters, including Clara Dreyer, used to help catch crabs along the Magothy.

"Clara Dreyer Bomhardt remembers that the Magothy was twelve feet deep at the end of the pier and the water so clear that she could see the bottom," Cunningham wrote.

"Near the shore, small crabs and fish thrived in the deep and thick seaweed. Multi-colored inch-long minnows swam in the Magothy, and where Hunter's Harbor is now, salamanders lived in freshwater spring.

"Today the Dreyer house and net shed are only memories."

See Also:

  • Local History: Girl Scout Camps on the Magothy
Heather January 17, 2013 at 02:46 PM
I remember those days as well, crabbing with my Dad. Grew up off the Magothy too. Now, I work for the Oyster Recovery Partnership (www.oysterrecovery.org) in Annapolis, MD to try and restore oysters, a "keystone" species which filters our waters and provides habitat for other important marine life such as blue crabs. Check out this nonprofit and tell others!
Ron January 18, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Unfortunately the old farts depleted the oysters and polluted the waterways, but when us young folks try to restore it, they just piss and moan about wasting taxpayer dollars while they collect their social security welfare, which won't be left for us young folks too
Maribeth Kalinich February 02, 2013 at 09:11 AM
I live in Shore Acres near Adams Point on the Magothy. When I was 15 there was still thick sea grasses in front of our house and the water was very clear in 10 feet. We used to push net for crab and bushel baskets floating in inner tubes were tied to a rope tied around our waists to put them in. There was an artesian spring well on our property contaminated in the early 1980s. We had a 20 foot beach in front as well. That has all eroded since the late 1970s early 80s when the housing boom hit the watershed. Heather is absolutely correct. Oysters and other bivalves filter the water and without them keeping the water clear for sunlight to produce sea grasses to produce oxygen there is little hope. The entire ecosystem is broken in just my lifetime.
Maribeth Kalinich February 02, 2013 at 09:15 AM
When I was a little kid, we could get a hand-picked pound of crab meat from Haas on Deep Creek for $1.25. When my mom was a little kid there weren't even any roads down here. Only one long red clay trail that would become Shore Acres Road.


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