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Road Trips

The Throwback Joys of Chincoteague and Its Famous Ponies

  I write about lots and lots of different places on Facebook and for the Secrets website, so I’m speaking from long experience when I say that there is one town in particular on the Eastern Shore that generates the most passionate and enthusiastic response from people. The winner, hands down, is Chincoteague, Virginia. What is the secret to the town’s success in winning over…
Way Back Machine

The Day an Elephant Marched Through the Marshlands of Saxis

    Over the centuries, several enterprising characters have tried to turn remote little Saxis on the Eastern Shore of Virginia side of Pocomoke Sound into a tourist destination. One such dreamer was Lloyd Drewer. Back in the early years of the 20th century, he built bathing houses, organized fishing trips, and sponsored various fairs and festivals. His most memorable exploit dates to the late 1930s,…
DestinationsWay Back Machine

How This Amazing Old House in Chincoteague Beat the Odds and Came Back to Life

  Why is it that one building manages to survive for centuries while all the others built at about the same time fall victim to the ravages of time? One of the experts who has spent some time with what is believed to be the oldest house in Chincoteague—it’s still standing after 200-plus years—chalked its survival up to a magical mix of being “well built, unusual,…
DestinationsWay Back Machine

Tracing the History of the Famous Pony-Penning Party in Chincoteague

    Before I did a little research, I assumed that the Chincoteague’s big annual pony-penning festival became a big deal only after 1947, the year Marguerite Henry published “Misty of Chincoteague.” That story, of course, became a children’s classic and then a Hollywood movie. But it turns out that the story of pony-penning day actually dates back centuries, not decades. Local historians say that…
Way Back Machine

The True Tale of Misty, Stormy, and maybe the worst nor’easter of them all

The deluge lasted three long days and stretched across five high tides right at the time of the full moon. More than 90 percent of Chincoteague Island flooded. The water ran six feet deep at times on Main Street in downtown Chincoteague. The island's chicken industry was destroyed--an estimated 350,000 birds died in the storm. Chincoteague's famous ponies suffered horribly as well. By the time the rain stopped, more than 100 of…
DestinationsWay Back Machine

The Old-School Stuckey’s in Mappsville

    There are the fake new Stuckey’s, and there are the genuine old-time Stuckey’s. The Stuckey’s in Mappsville, an itty bitty burg of 400-and-some souls on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, most definitely falls into the latter category. As far as I can tell, this is the only genuine Stuckey’s left in the Shore region. Walk through the door and you’ll feel like you’ve…
December 5, 2014
DestinationsWay Back Machine

The Ghost Ships of Kiptopeke

    Step out onto the beach at Kiptopeke State Park for the first time and you’ll need to do a double take. Why, yes, that is a humongous arc of a jetty made out of eerie-looking ghost ships. It’s like some naval version of the scene at the end of the original “Planet of the Apes” where we see the tattered remnants of the…
December 5, 2014