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Geography

The Pocomoke originates in the Great Cypress Swamp on the Maryland-Delaware border and flows 55 miles through Maryland before it empties into the Pocomoke Sound at the Chesapeake Bay. Its total length is 73 miles.

About 400 feet wide below Snow Hill, the depth of the Pocomoke ranges from 7 to 45 feet, averaging about 15 feet. Its tea color, characteristic of cypress swamps, comes from tannic acid in the roots and decaying leaves of trees and plants that line its banks.

History

History flows in the deep, amber waters of the Pocomoke River. Local tradition says that the word Pocomoke is an Indian word that means Black water. Modern scholars attribute the word to Algonquin-speaking tribes whose name for the river meant pierced or broken ground.

Shipbuilding, brick manufacturing, the smelting of iron from bog ore found in the swamps along the Pocomoke, and the shipping of tobacco and lumber flourished throughout the late 1700s and early 1800s. Pocomoke City and the county seat, Snow Hill, were the principal developments along the river.

Through the years, deserting Union and Confederate troops, underground railroaders, bootleggers and smugglers, all found refuge in the brackish streams and cuts beneath the tall cypress covered with trailing vines.

Flora & Fauna

More than 27 species of mammals, 29 of reptiles, 14 of amphibians and 172 of birds have been seen in the wetlands bordering the river. Some ornithologists describe this area as one of the best environments for bird life on the Atlantic coast. Pileated woodpeckers and prothonotary warblers frequent the swampy woodlands while bald eagles are often spotted over the open river.

There are at least 72 families of plant life that have been identified in the Pocomoke River wetlands, part of the northernmost range of the bald cypress. Cypress are recognized by strange knees which protrude from the water. The knees are thought to deliver oxygen to the root system and are best developed in trees that are subject to periodic high water or permanent flooding.

Fishing

Amateur, novice and expert fishermen will find the tidal Pocomoke uniquely challenging. Yellow and white perch, eel, gar, sunfish, pickerel, catfish, crappie, bluegill, herring, spot croakers, bluefish and largemouth bass will tease and taunt the best of the rod'n'reelers.

Certain areas of the river banks have been designated as Free Fishing Areas where no Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing License is required. The free fishing areas include only the river banks where so marked. Fishing from a craft requires a license.

Tides

The Pocomoke is a tidal river, with up to a three-foot rise and fall. Visitors to the area can learn from local media what the tides are at Crisfield. High tides in Pocomoke City run two hours later than in Crisfield, and at Snow Hill 3« hours later. Tides are affected by weather conditions, so these estimates are subject to variation.

Accurate, timely weather information is broadcast on NOAA VHF-FM weather station, KEC-92 at 162.475 MHZ.

Interested in the restoration of the floodplain of the Pocomoke River? Check out the video Freeing a Trapped River: Pocomoke Restoration.