National Geographic : 1980 Oct
threatened by gnawing, relentless erosion. Of Smith, Paul Marshall said, "The south shore and the west shore are hit pretty bad. As much as 50 feet a year washes away in some places, and ice just cuts it to pieces. So many little islands I used to hunt on are gone. Some marshes are washed out and become gravelly beaches, and bars have washed away and got deeper, and no grass will stick on 'em." Tangier loses as much as 25 feet a year from its west shore, and erosion soon will cut into the airstrip, vitally needed by islanders in medical emergencies or when the Chesa peake is ice locked. The two islands have asked the Corps of Engineers to try to do something to stabilize their shores. "If we don't stop the erosion now, 10 years from now we won't have an airport and 30 years from now we won't have an island," said Tangier's Mayor Rob ert J. Thorne. That can be the fate of islands in the Bay. In his novel Chesapeake,James A. Michener writes of the gradual disappearance of fic tional Devon Island in the Choptank River. He got the idea for his Devon from an island that did erode and vanish off the mouth of the Choptank. In colonial times Sharps Is land was a rich plantation of 600 acres, but the last of it succumbed to tides and storms Commerce is the lifeblood of Baltimore, and the Bay a vital artery.