Along Skipton Creek in Maryland’s Talbot County near the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay, tundra swans take flight and a rafter of wild turkeys forage the woodlands. A blue heron fishes in a contented way as a sleek red fox trots past the shoreline. Bald eagles wheel above in a bright blue sky, while whitetailed deer dart across a meadow.
History runs deep here. York, Md., was a port of entry and the county seat. By 1869 the tiny village boasted the first measured (half-mile) racetrack in Maryland. A mile across the creek sits the Wye River Plantation, originally the estate of William Paca, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the third governor of Maryland. Now known as the Aspen Institute on the Wye River, it was the site of the 1998 peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
In 1993 Robert “Shell” Evans discovered these beautiful stretches of forest and open fields that today serve his twin passions of sailing the meandering waterways and raising Thoroughbreds at his Courtland Farm. A few miles outside Easton, his property once was that village of York. He purchased the 440-acre farm from its former longtime owner Dr. John Walker, a cousin of former President George H.W. Bush. While the primary residence of Evans and his wife, Susan, is Greenwich, Conn., from spring through fall the couple spends time at Courtland checking on their stock. Their beautifully restored house overlooks Skipton Creek that links to the Wye River, a waterway Evans navigates in his day-sailer.
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