Exelon Corporation and The Conservation Fund announced this week that Exelon will donate a 79-acre island on the Susquehanna River about 3 miles south of the Conowingo Dam to The Conservation Fund which will donate it to Maryland's Department of Natural Resources.
The donation will help support the Captain John Smith Four-Hundred Project, an educational initiative retracing Captain John Smith's historic Chesapeake Bay voyages.
The land, named Roberts Island, is located in the Susquehanna River offshore from the area known as "Rock Run" in Susquehanna State Park, near the junction of Deer Creek. The island, which is approximately 1,100 yards long and 175 yards across, was among those noted by Captain John Smith on his original map of the Chesapeake Bay. The donation is part of a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Captain John Smith's founding of Jamestown and exploration of the Chesapeake Bay.
Exelon acquired the island in the 1920's as part of then-Philadelphia Electric Company's Conowingo Project, a project to construct the Conowingo Dam and Hydroelectric Generating Station. Since then, the island has been an attractive stop for boaters and historians due to its connection to Captain John Smith.
"We've seen over the years that Roberts Island has become a popular recreation spot along the Susquehanna," said Mark Schiavoni, president of Exelon Power, the company that operates the Conowingo Hydroelectric Generating Station. "I am proud to be involved in a project that will help enrich the public on the history of the Chesapeake region."
Exelon owns and manages more than 9,000 acres along the Susquehanna River. Much of the land is used for fishing, boating, hiking and other recreational activities. The company has also been working with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 35 years to help restore the once-endangered American shad to the Susquehanna River.
"We are delighted to be able to donate Roberts Island to the State of Maryland," said Elizabeth Moler, executive vice president of Exelon Corporation. "The Conservation Fund's work to establish the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail led us to realize the island's historic significance. Roberts Island has been a part of the Conowingo Project, so it has been protected from development by the Exelon Corporation."
Patrick Noonan, chairman emeritus of The Conservation Fund, congratulated Exelon for its timely gift on the eve of the 400th anniversary of Smith's exploration of the Chesapeake Bay. "Roberts Island marks the northernmost extent of Smith's voyages and will be an important legacy site in the lower Susquehanna for the proposed Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail. Thanks to Exelon's generous donation, its commitment to environmental stewardship and the leadership of the State of Maryland, we are one step closer to establishing the nation's first all-water National Historic Trail."