The wreck of a 19th-century ship in the murky Patuxent River near Upper Marlboro could be the USS Scorpion, which archaeologists and state officials hope will be a star attraction in Maryland's commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
The USS Scorpion, was part of a fleet known as the Chesapeake Flotilla that was designed to navigate the shallow waters of the Patuxent and harass the British, whose Royal Navy at the time was terrorizing towns from Havre de Grace to Norfolk.
The excavation is part of Maryland's effort to create a tourism cash cow from the bicentennial of a war whose biggest claim to fame is inspiring "The Star-Spangled Banner." Based in part on Virginia's experience with revenue generated by Civil War sites, bicentennial boosters estimate the 32 months of events planned to commemorate the War of 1812 could generate $1 billion in tourism spending.
"It's very much about economic development and cultural heritage tourism," said Bill Pencek, executive director of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission.
Primary source ► Shipwreck could yield the USS Scorpion from the War of 1812
Further reading ► Archaeologists excavate suspected War of 1812 vessel