There can be no better place for beginning a survey of our country than upon this great bay, which Smith and his companions entered in 1607. Chesapeake Bay is the largest inland sea on the Atlantic Coast of the United States. It stretches for two hundred miles up into the land, between the low and fertile shores of Virginia and Maryland, both of which States it divides, and thus gives them valuable navigation facilities. In its many arms and estuaries are the resting-places for the luscious oysters which its people send all over the world. It is one of the greatest of food-producers, having a larger variety of tempting luxuries for the palate than probably any other region. Along its shores and upon its islands are numberless popular resorts for fishing and shooting, for its tender and amply-supplied water-foods attract the ducks and other wild fowl in countless thousands, and bring in shoals of the sea-fishes, which are the sportsmen’s coveted game. Its terrapin are famous, while its shores and border-lands, particularly on the eastern side, are a series of orchards and market-gardens, providing limitless supplies of fruits, berries and vegetables for the Northern markets. It receives in its generally placid bosom some of the greatest rivers flowing down from the Allegheny Mountains. The broad Susquehanna, coming through New York and Pennsylvania, makes its headwaters, and it receives the Potomac, dividing Maryland from Virginia, and the James, in Virginia, both of them wide estuaries with an enormous outflow ; and also numerous smaller streams, such as the Rappahannock, York, Patuxent, Patapsco, Choptank and Elizabeth Rivers. Extensive lines of profitable commerce, all large carriers of food-supplies, have transport over this great bay and its many arms and affluents. Canals connect it with other interior waters, and leading railways with all parts of the country, while there are several noted cities upon its shores and tributaries.
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