Emperor's Landing Park

Emperor’s Landing Park

Emperor's Landing Park is a central gateway to the Nanticoke River and watershed, located on the banks of Vienna, Maryland

A historically significant area dating from Native American times, the park offers long sweeping vistas of the Dorchester and Wicomico marshlands. The area was first recorded by Captain John Smith on his 1608 voyage of exploration of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The town was founded in 1709 and later became an important customs district and port of entry for river and bay commerce.

Emperor's Landing Park was created to preserve and interpret the historical, cultural, and environmental legacy of the river and bay.

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The park is open dawn to dusk, year round.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)


There are no park fees.


The park offers the opportunity for recreational boating, fishing and bird watching. There are self guided walking tours available and. There are historic buildings on the park grounds. The nearby Heritage Museum is open by appointment.


Vienna, Maryland, is close to the site where the Nanticoke Indian town Kuskarawaok was located on Chicone Creek. Captain John Smith likely visited the Nanticoke paramount chief there.

On June 8 and 9, 1608, Smith and his crew made their way up the Nanticoke River on the barge Discovery.

The Indians who lived on the east bank of the river shot arrows at the explorers, but those who lived on the west bank befriended them when the Englishmen offered small gifts.

This must have been a relief for the crew, which had been living on short rations through two major squalls and clouds of biting insects.

It appears Smith was taken to Kuskarawaok, where the Nanticoke told him about a powerful tribe to the north called Massawomeck.

Smith probably wondered if the Massawomeck lived on the Northwest Passage. The Virginia Company had instructed him to find this elusive route to the Pacific Ocean and Asian trade markets.


Last updated: June 01, 2022
Bay Gateways Captain John Smith Chesapeake Trail