Conowingo Dam, located on Route 1 over the Susquehanna River is nearly 10 miles north of the Chesapeake Bay and a perfect location to spend a day with the family. Just under an hour’s drive from Baltimore City, Conowingo Dam offers hiking, fishing, boating, and sight seeing opportunities to guests of all ages, among numerous recreational attractions nearby. Calling ahead is advised to all visitors, and daily information as well as closures can be found at the Conowingo Dam hotline, 1-888-457-4076.
Autumn is the ideal time for bird watching at Conowingo Dam, with the renowned Bald Eagle and Blue Heron populations beginning to peak in November. Over 100 species of birds are attracted to the dam’s abundance of floating fish, easy prey after being stunned from passing though the generators. Since the catwalk’s precautionary closure following ‘9/11,’ most of the shore fishing and bird watching occurs around the fisherman’s wharf, which sits near the base of the dam.
Named after the Susquehannock Tribe’s word for, ‘at the rapids,’ Conowingo Dam has a rich economical and environmental history, and after its completion in 1928, ‘became the second largest Hydroelectric Project in the United States, behind Niagara Falls,’ according to Exelon Corporation. Originally used by the railroad for hauling building materials, a trail now extends from the fisherman’s park to Deer Creek in Susquehanna State Park. Broad and flat, this trail is perfect for bicycling, offering numerous views of the river, lively wetlands, plentiful wildlife and ruins of the Stafford flint furnace, along with partially buried train tracks. The Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway Trail (2.5 miles), is an out and back rail-trail, so be sure to take into account the full time needed to return, as the fisherman’s park closes at sunset.
The Susquehanna is an important spawning waterway for the American Shad, a favorite among catch and release fisherman at Conowingo Dam. Fall months also offer a spike in Smallmouth Bass fishing, and anglers are encouraged to utilize the fishing wharf or Conowingo Reservoir, located on the north side of the dam, stretching towards Pennsylvania. 7 day fishing licenses can be purchased at tackle shops in the area for only $7.50. Fishing regulations are available on the DNR website. For those wading into the Susquehanna, use caution when the floodgates are opened and listen for the alarm indicating rising water.
Whether visiting alone or with family, Conowingo Dam offers exciting activities for all ages, ensuring that as night falls, either returning with a collection of new photographs or a cooler of fresh fish, you’ll assuredly have stories to share with friends back home, and definite plans to return soon.