THE CLIFFS & BEACHES
The Cliffs & Beaches
When Thomas Lee purchased “The Cliffs” property in 1717, he did not know that he had acquired a geological phenomenon that existed in only three other places in the world. The Cliffs, part of the Calvert formation, are composed of compacted sea matter dating from the Miocene Epoch – approximately 17 to 10 million years ago – when rising land replaced the ocean that once covered Stratford Hall.
The 150-foot-high cliffs along the Potomac River, formerly the sea floor, provided just the right set of circumstances for the fossilization of animal remains. Fossilized remains indicate a sea filled with primitive shark-toothed porpoises, salt-water crocodiles, sea cows, gopher turtles, rays, whales, and sharks. Thousands of shark teeth found along this area of the Potomac attest to the frequency of the sharks, largest among them being the Giant White Shark, with teeth measuring seven inches or more.
Following your tour of the Great House and gardens or by the purchase of a grounds pass, we invite you to take a stroll along the beaches, search for sharks’ teeth, and enjoy the serenity of the water’s edge.
Rocks, Time & Fossils Video Series
Frequently Asking Questions by Jon Bachman, Education & Public Outreach Manager