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CharactersWay Back Machine

Chincoteague Character of the Day: Thomas Downing, the ‘Oyster King’ of NYC

Growing up in Chincoteague, Va. in the 1790s and the first decade of the 1800s, Thomas Downing spent much of his time fishing, oystering, digging up clams, and catching terrapins. He must have spent a good bit of time around the kitchen as well, considering the way he grew up to become one of the most famous restaurateurs in New York City—the “Oyster King of…
Quote of the DayWay Back Machine

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You slide your feet around in the mud like you’re dancing a Bojangles sand-dance”

    “I am, like my daddy was, and his daddy was, a waterman.” So begins Chincoteague Summer of 1948: A Waterman’s Childhood Stories, a little wisp of a book that is both odd duck and fun read. It presents itself in quite authentic fashion as the recorded childhood memories of waterman Thurston Watson. But then the author, Ed Waterhouse, a Chincoteague native who had…
Quote of the Day

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Chincoteague in 1913–The Times They Were a Changin’

    You know how some folks are always complaining about development and crowds and progress on the Eastern Shore, how they keep saying everything used to be friendlier and better back in the day? Inspiration Awaits! Click on the cover to learn more about this Secrets of the Eastern Shore book by Jim Duffy, Well, those same kinds of people were saying those same…
The Newsroom

The Secrets Christmas Agenda 2016!

We are going to be busy little elves this holiday season! On top of filling customer orders for Eastern Shore-themed greeting cards and photo prints available here on our website, there is all of this coming up: • SIGNING #1: On Black Friday, Nov. 25, Secrets founder Jim Duffy will be at Sundial Books in Chincoteague, signing copies of the new Secrets guidebook, "Eastern Shore Road…
Way Back Machine

Murder in Chincoteague, 1885: The Sensational Crime of a Lovesick Man Who Lost His Grip

    Do you remember those scenes in “The Shining” when a maniacal-looking Jack Nicholson would be typing and typing and typing like, well, mad, and in the end we see that he’s been typing the same insane few words over and over again? Those scenes popped into my head recently while I was reading up on the story of a sensational murder case that…
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…
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…