National Wildlife Refuge
|1730 Eastern Neck Road
Rock Hall, MD 21661
Phone Number: 410-639-7056
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Bald Eagles at Eastern Neck NWR. USFWS/Heffley/2007|
Continued . . . Eastern Neck Island's historical and cultural significance dates to the 17th Century. In 1650, Major Joseph Wickes obtained land grants at Eastern Neck Island, on which he built his mansion, Wickcliffe; the Island served as County Seat while Major Wickes was Chief Justice. His descendant, Revolutionary War hero Lambert Wickes, was born on Eastern Neck Island; Captain Wickes is best known as the Continental Navy's first commissioned officer in European waters and for his famous passenger, Benjamin Franklin. A village called Overton flourished on Eastern Neck Island from Colonial days until 1924. Farming and waterfowl hunting became the most prevalent land uses immediately prior to the establishment of the refuge. A remaining gunning lodge, built by a Baltimore hunt club in the 1930's, has been renovated into a public facility.
In addition to being a historical treasure, Eastern Neck Island possessed substantial commercial value which was nearly exploited in the late 1950's when a large tract of land was purchased by a developer and subdivided into 293 lots for a housing development called "Cape Chester." The local citizenry appealed to the Federal Government to protect Eastern Neck Island, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquired the entire island between 1962 and 1967. The only house built now serves as the refuge headquarters. Eastern Neck NWR continues to enjoy strong community support to this day.
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