1. Chesapeake Bay cuts into the East Coast like a hairy finger.
2. Funny how if you grow up near Chesapeake Bay it’s the Chesapeake Bay.
3. Really, it’s just a bay.
4. A place where coast curves inward, an indentation of shoreline filled by sea.
5. But if a bay threads its tributaries through your hometown it becomes the bay.
6. And it deserves that, I think. Consider the Chesapeake Bay’s birth story.
7. James River begins in the Appalachian Mountains and runs into the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay, delicately skewering Richmond, Virginia along the way.
8. Richmond, currently the third most-tattooed city, was once a tropical rainforest and the place where the Atlantic Ocean abutted the East Coast. Then a fantastic flash of flying rock smashed into the continental shelf less than 100 miles away.
9. The meteor made a crater almost as deep as the Grand Canyon and wide enough to fit two Rhode Islands. It was a big deal back in the Eocene.
8. Water and sediment surged in the air, forming a tsunami of such ferocity that some speculate it might have lapped at the tips of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
9. Immediately after forming, the crater collapsed on itself. It continued to fill with rubble overtime, helping form the Bay and its rivers.
10. The crater still lives beneath the Bay, and sediment still slumps into it.
11. This is one of the reasons the land in this area is sinking today: Our coasts are slowly slipping into largest known impact crater in the United States.