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CCan you feel the excitement? You’re on the quaint island paradise that is Chincoteague Island, Va! Home of the world famous Chincoteague Ponies. There is so much to see and do, or just relax in the midst of the quiet island charm. While the Ocean side of the island beckons for fun in the sun, the bayside offers breath taking sunsets on the water. There are savory restaurants, island tours, fun places and adventure for the whole family just a shells toss from the door of your vacation spot. To find out more, just turn the pages of this book. It’s going to be a great vacation!
On behalf of the staff of Inside Chincoteague, let the fun begin!
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10 Inside Chincoteague 2023 Publisher
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Inside Chincoteague 2023 11 Welcome to Chincoteague!
Contents 14 Island Map 16 Getting Around Town 17 Important Numbers 18 Insider Notes 20 Next Gen Sun Protection 26 Beach Safety 30 Folklore Meets Science 34 Island Adventure 46 Historic Downtown 54 Maddox Boulevard 58 Pony Penning 2023 60 Wild Ponies, Shipwrecks & People 64 Reasons to Swim in a Cold Ocean 68 Lodging 70 Island Life Surfers Riptide - On the Cover NASA Wallops Flight Facility Misty of Chincoteague Assateague Lighthouse Assateague Island pg.30 Insider Notes
Saltwater Pony Tours
Inside Chincoteague 2023 13 2246 Curtis Merritt Harbor Drive (757) 710-1783 saltwaterponytours.com
We offer private group tours for up to 6 passengers. Please call for larger groups. Our 2 hour cruise departs four times a day, seven days a week from floating dock #1, Curtis Merritt Harbor.
The best way to experience Chincoteague is by boat! Take a tour, leave with a memory!
The Pony Express
About the Trolley
The Pony Express is a seasonal trolley service provided by the Town of Chincoteague. This service is open to the public and follows fixed routes covering most of the island including many of the motels, restaurants, shops, parks, recreational areas, ice cream parlors, and campgrounds.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) public transportation option is available. Please see below for details. All of our trolleys are equipped with wheelchair lifts.
ADA Public Transportation Option: The Pony Express runs a fixed-route service and complementary paratransit service for qualified persons with disabilities. Our paratransit service coverage area includes up to 3/4 of a mile beyond all our fixed routes. To qualify for the ADA deviation option, you must apply and be certified. Applications are available at the Town of Chincoteague office in person or by mail. Certifications from other communities will be accepted.
The operator complies with all ADA rules and regulations. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) trips will be arranged where logistically possible. We ask that your request for service, after certification, be made at least 2 hours in advance of your desired departure time. The fare for ADA deviated route riders is $1.00 (or 4 tokens). The Town office is open 8 AM to 5 PM. After normal business hours, please contact the Pony Express.
Town of Chincoteague, Inc. – 757-336-6519
The Pony Express – 757-854-8572 (After 5:00 pm)
Island Trolley Stops
For your convenience, Pony Express stops are located throughout the Island. Look for the Trolley Stop signs. You can also hail a trolley along the route!
Just 50 cents per person/per ride! No Alcohol, No Tobacco & No Pets
Exact change is appreciated. Free tokens are available at local businesses.
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2023 Trolley Schedule
The Pony Express operates on Saturdays during the month of May. The trolley runs all weekend, for the Memorial Day holiday, with daily service beginning May 6, 2023. Pony Express runs daily through September 4, 2023, when weekend service will resume through October, 7, 2023.
Emergency Services : 911
AAA Emergency Road Service - 800-222-4357
Alcoholics Anonymous - 410-219-2117
Atlantic General Hospital - 410-641-1100
Riverside Memorial Hospital - 757-302-2140
Chincoteague Center (Community) - 757-336-0614
Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company (non-emergencies) 757-336-3138
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge - 757-336-6122
Coast Guard- Chincoteague (emergency) - 757-336-2855
Island Library - 757-336-3460
Marine Police Dispatch - 757-336-3460
Poison Control Center - 800-222-1222
Post Office - 757-336-2934
Public Works - 757-336-3366
Town Office 757-336-6519
Virginia State Police - 800-582-8350
Western Union - 800-325-6000
Lost or Stolen Credit Cards
Discover - 800-347-2683
Master Card - 800-826-2181
Visa - 800-336-8472
May 6th — Annual Chincoteague Seafood Festival 10am-5pm (Ride Free)
Weekends beginning June 30th— 98th Annual Volunteer Fire Co. Carnival
Last Call for Trolley during Carnival is 10:00 pm
July 4th — Old Fashioned Fireworks Display 5pm-12pm (Ride Free Courtesy of the Town of Chincoteague)
July 27th-29th — 98th Annual Pony Swim TBD, Auction TBD, and Swim Back TBD
October 7th — 49th Annual Chincoteague Oyster Festival 10am-5pm (Ride Free)
December 3th — Old Fashioned Christmas Parade
Schedule is subject to change. Visit Chincoteague-VA.gov for up to date information.
Lost or Stolen Travelers Checks
Am Ex. - 800-528-4800
Mastercard - 800-223-7373
Traveler's Cheque - 800-645-6556
Visa - 800-227-6811
Inside Chincoteague 2023 17
Red Route (Variable) Starts 5:15 p.m. Green Route (Primary Route) Starts 5:00 p.m. Pine Grove 5:02 6:02 7:02 8:02 9:02 10:02 Maddox Blvd. & Deep Hole Rd. 5:05 5:35 6:05 6:35 7:05 7:35 8:05 8:35 9:05 9:35 10:05 Main & Church St. 5:08 5:38 6:08 6:38 7:08 7:38 8:08 8:38 9:08 9:38 10:08 Beebe Rd. & Ridge Rd 5:13 5:43 6:13 6:43 7:13 7:43 8:13 8:43 9:13 9:43 10:13 Veteran’s Memorial Park 5:17 5:47 6:17 6:47 7:17 7:47 8:17 8:47 9:17 9:47 10:17 Pony Centre 5:21 5:51 6:21 6:51 7:21 7:51 8:21 8:51 9:21 9:51 10:21 Museum of Chincoteague 5:25 5:55 6:25 6:55 7:25 7:55 8:25 8:55 9:25 9:55 10:25 Chincoteague Center 5:15 6:15 7:15 8:15 9:15 10:15 High School - Call in (757) 854-8570 5:18 6:18 7:18 8:18 9:18 10:18 Main & Church St. 5:22 5:51 6:22 6:51 7:22 7:51 8:22 8:51 9:22 9:51 10:22 Curtis Merritt Harbor - Call in (757) 854-8570 6:00 7:00 8:00 9:00 10:00 Beebe Rd. & Ridge Rd 5:40 6:40 7:40 8:40 9:40 Veteran’s Memorial Park 5:45 6:45 7:45 8:45 9:45 Museum of Chincoteague 55 6:08 7:08 8:08 9:08 10:08
On the Cover
NASA Wallops Flight Facility
Stallion - foaled May 3 - 2009 Brand - 09
Coloring - flaxen chestnut with splashed white, blaze, four socks, and brown eyes. Buyback Pony - sold at auction for $11,5000, purchased by the Folsom family.
Riptide is the son of the stallion Surfer Dude, who is the most famous Chincoteague Pony since Misty. Since Surfer Dude's death in 2015, at the age of 23, Riptide has filled his sire's shoes as the most popular pony on the Island. (His overall resemblance to his father is uncanny.) Riptide left his father's side in 2011 to form his own band, which currently resides in the Southern herd.
The NASA Wallops Flight Facility is located just outside of Chincoteague. The Antares rocket, which routinely travels to the International Space Station with supplies, launches from the Eastern Shore of Virginia facility. If you can’t make it to the Wallops area to view a launch, (We suggest you start at the NASA Visitor’s Center on route 175, the main road into Chincoteague), you can still be a part of the experience through the Wallops Mission Status Center found at NASA.gov. There you will find information about the mission and links to the live countdown audio as well as live video of the launch. You can also view live coverage at nasa.gov/nasatv
18 Inside Chincoteague
A Luxurious Waterfront Oasis
The Marina Bay Hotel & The Anchor Inn are two unique properties nestled in the heart of Chincoteague. Whether traveling for business, planning a wedding, or hosting a fishing trip, you will find many amenities to enjoy. Take advantage of our business center and our waterfront ceremony pavilion, or dock your boat and enjoy our fishing house. We have just what you need to enjoy your home away from home.
Inside Chincoteague 2023 19
Marina Bay Hotel & Suites & Anchor Inn Hotel 3801 Main St. Chincoteague, VA (757)-336-3500
Next Gen Sun Protection
Mostparents would consider traditional liquid sunscreen or sunblock from a bottle to be the best way to help protect children from the sun’s harmful rays. After all, it has been used successfully for decades, is inexpensive, and is available at most retail stores. However, the past few summers have brought about some exciting new products that are not only fun to use but allow for greater flexibility in how we keep kids safe.
The sunscreens and sunblocks we are most familiar with now have a new attitude! Sunscreens come in aerosol spray cans for even coverage and quick application. They also work great for areas that were once impossible to reach, like your back. Other varieties offer unique features, such as color-changing bottles that alert parents when it is time to reapply. There is also a sunblock also goes on like a cream and dries into a powder, keeping sand and dirt from sticking to the skin.
We are familiar with using a hat or an umbrella to cover precious little ones from the powerful sun, but did you ever consider a custom swimsuit or romper for your child? Specialty apparel made from cotton and other natural blends can offer 50+ UV protection while keeping kids stylish! Hats, t-shirts, shorts, swimsuits, and even water shoes contain breathable variations of this new material designed to be a long-term tool against the risk of sunburn.
UV alert stickers are an option for detecting how long your child has been out in the sun and preventing overexposure. Made by a few manufacturers, these decals for the skin come in fun designs and change color the longer the wearer is in direct sunlight. While they do nothing to minimize sun exposure, they are a great tool combined with a sun protection product.
Umbrellas and sunshades are also nice for those kids that just aren’t going anywhere. Babies and toddlers staying in one spot outdoors can relax under an umbrella or other canopy to keep cool and away from direct sunlight. (NOTE: Please ensure the product is designed for sun protection. A regular umbrella or blanket may not offer a defense.) Tents and portable gazebos made from similar materials come in sizes large enough for the whole family!
Sunglasses are a fashion staple for adults but are often overlooked for children. However, child-sized sunglasses are a growing market and can be adorable and vital to keeping little eyes from harm. Choose a frame that fits your child’s face, and be sure they can stay put with either straps or a wrap-around design. Avoid cheap novelty sunglasses from discount stores, as they are usually not intended for sun safety.
Strolling babies need shelter too, and there are many different kinds of stroller and car seat canopies and covers that keep babies cool and away from the hot sun. Many allow for an unobstructed view of the outside; some even do double-duty as a bug guard to keep pesky mosquitoes at bay!
Remembering sun safety is a year-round issue will also help keep kids safe. With all the available products, parents and caregivers should have no problem finding a sun solution that works for them. Speaking with a pediatrician or family doctor can give some additional insight on how families can work together to prevent sun damage in children. Learning sun safety early is the best way to ensure children grow up healthy and happy!
20 Inside Chincoteague 2023
Misty of Chincoteague
Misty of Chincoteague is a children's novel written by Marguerite Henry, illustrated by Wesley Dennis, and published by Rand McNally in 1947. Set in the island town of Chincoteague, the book tells the story of the Beebe family and their efforts to raise a filly born to a wild pony. The fictional story has become world famous and is said to be in part responsible for the explosive growth of Pony Penning. Misty, the real pony, was foaled in 1946 at the Beebe farm on Chincoteague island. You can see her footprints when you visit the historic Island Theatre located at 4074 Main Street. The hoof prints are on the sidewalk in front of the building. You can also see Misty herself, preserved via taxidermy, at the Museum of Chincoteague located at 7125 Maddox Blvd.
The movie Misty, filmed in 1961, shows daily at 11:00 a.m. during Pony Penning and on Mondays during the summer too!
Assateague Light is the 142-foot-tall lighthouse located on the southern end of Assateague Island. You can find the lighthouse in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge after crossing the Assateague Channel. It is owned and maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. The lighthouse is still used as an active aid in maritime navigation. The "keeper's quarters" are also used today and serve as seasonal housing for temporary refuge employees, volunteers, and interns.
The beacon was constructed in 1867 to replace a shorter lighthouse which was only 45 foot tall and built in 1833.
Renovations, totaling over $1.5 million, were completed in October of 2013. Improvements included the replacement of the lower gallery deck, removal & replacement of glass, restoration of the widow's walk and exterior paint.
Assateague Island A
From the National Park Service
Assateague Island is a 37 mile long island along the coasts of Maryland and Virginia. Most of the Maryland district is managed by the National Park Service as Assateague Island National Seashore. The State of Maryland manages two miles of the Maryland district as Assateague State Park. The Virginia district is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The National Park Service operates the Toms Cove Visitor Center and a recreational beach within the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Most of the refuge is located on the Virginia end of Assateague Island; however, 418 acres are on the Maryland side of the island, 427 acres are found on Morris Island, and 546 acres comprise Wildcat Marsh on the northern tip of Chincoteague Island. Additionally, Chincoteague Refuge’s boundaries extend south and encompass all or part of the following barrier islands: Assawoman, Metompkin, and Cedar. The refuge’s location along the Atlantic Flyway makes it a vital resting and feeding spot for a large number and diversity of birds.
Chincoteague Refuge, originally established in 1943 to provide habitat for migratory birds (with an emphasis on conserving greater snow geese), today provides habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, and song birds, as well as other species of wildlife and plants. Refuge staff manage this barrier island habitat to allow many species of wildlife to co-exist, each establishing their own place in the environment. Refuge management programs restore threatened and endangered species and conserve local wildlife and plants. The refuge also provides wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities such as fishing, hunting, wildlife photography and observation, interpretation, and environmental education.
22 Inside Chincoteague 2023
Inside Chincoteague 2023 23
24 Inside Chincoteague 2023 Delmarva Unleashed ...the Shore's canine lifestyle magazine. DelmarvaUnleashed.com
Made in the USA! These fashionably fabulous ribbon collars come in a variety of lengths and in two widths to perfectly suit your dog’s shape and size. The collars are made from high-tensile strength nylon webbing with sewn on polyester and nylon ribbons, and are stain and fray resistant. They are designed to last a lifetime! Complete the look with the matching harness and lead.
All hardware is cast brass, not welded, for extra strength Buckles are Coast Guard approved for high weight hold
Inside Chincoteague 2023 25
Every dog needs a collar and leash from his favorite resort!
The Plaid Dog
Lifeguards — Introduce your child to the lifeguard on your beach. Explain to them that if they get lost, go to the nearest lifeguard and tell them that they are lost. The lifeguards will help family members reunite.
Sunscreen Remember to apply sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30, thirty minutes before going outdoors and again every two hours even if your sunscreen is waterproof. Apply sunscreen to your whole body; your bathing suit can move and expose unprotected skin. There is no such thing as all-day protection. Sunburn is the most common injury that happens to people at the beach. A blistering sunburn during adolescence doubles the chance of developing skin cancer later in life.
Fluids — When you are outside in warm weather, your body needs plenty of water. Remember to drink lots of water even if you are not thirsty. Dehydration can be a serious problem, so drink plenty of liquids. Water is best.
Learn how to swim — If you don’t know how to swim, don’t go in the water!
Never dive headfirst into the water!
The water may not be as deep as it looks. Never dive off of piers, rock jetties or surfboards. Diving in shallow water can be dangerous and can even cause you to become paralyzed.
26 Inside Chincoteague 2022
Flotation Devices: Bodyboards,
Noodles, and other Flotation Aids can be considered a hazard in the ocean. Many drownings and rescue incidents are associated with the use of inappropriate flotation devices. Many people associate “safety” with flotation aids and feel safe going out much further than they should. Currents or wind can move an unsuspecting person into deep water or far off shore. This is an invitation to disaster; people may be separated from the device by waves, slipping off or choose to prematurely let go of the device to try and make better progress to shore. Remember, flotation aids that move with waves travel with considerable speeds with the compound force of the wave behind you. The weight of a person on a speeding object may cause an injury if there is a collision with another person or the hard packed beach surface. Hard objects, such as surfboards, kayaks and skim boards can be especially hazardous. For these reasons, Coast Guard approved life-jackets are the only devices allowed on the lifeguard protected beach.
Most jellyfish in our area are not toxic enough to give you more than a little sting and a rash. If stung by a jellyfish, get a medical professional or marine animal expert to help determine the type of jellyfish to help assess the proper method of treatment. Check to see if lifeguards are flying a purple flag.
The Unsecured Umbrella: An umbrella blown across the beach by the wind has caused many injuries. When strong gusty winds blow, umbrella tops should be set facing into the wind. Make sure a good size hole is dug and pack in sand firmly around it.
You might want to think twice before digging that hold to China…beach dangers can occur in the sand as well as the surf! More people are killed or injured every year from a sand hole collapsing than a shark attack. When people dig really large holes, we’re talking multiple feet deep, they run the risk of the hole caving in on them. What’s more, the collapsing sand completely submerges the victim, leaving no evidence of what just occurred—a scary thought if no one was watching. Digging sand tunnels can also be dangerous and can collapse on the person digging the tunnel. How to avoid a sand trap? Don’t dig holes deeper than your knees and fill in any stray holes you may see at the beach.
Shark: During the rare occasion of a shark sighting, the beach may be closed to entry. A closure may also occur if a school of bluefish are in a “feeding frenzy.” The risk of a shark attack is low however; there are ways to lower the risk even further. For instance, don’t swim at dawn, dusk and night, swim with a buddy, don’t go in the water if you are bleeding and stay clear of schooling bluefish and other schooling fish.
Inside Chincoteague 2023 27
Strong Surf Onshore winds cause waves. Because ocean winds vary, waves change from day to day. All waves deserve respect. Body surfing and swim fins are allowed in the lifeguard area – be careful! Do not try to ride waves that are too forceful for your level of skill. Sand abrasions, broken limbs, dislocated shoulders and spinal injuries are not uncommon as a result of being thrown to the hard packed beach bottom. To escape a waves great force, you can duck under or retreat from breaking waves. If you are riding a wave in some fashion, and are thrown off, try and prevent direct head and neck contact with the ocean floor. Do not run and dive into the surf if you do not know the depth and topography.
When people picture deadly threats at the beach, the heart-stopping image of a shark fin emerging from the water immediately comes to mind. However, beach goers are 10 times more likely to be killed by a rip current than a shark attack. Rip currents are fast moving streams of water that knock swimmers off of their feet and drag them further away from shore. When this happens, it is best to swim with the current, not against it, as counterintuitive as it seems. Most victims of rip currents actually die of exhaustion, not drowning, because they tried to fight the rip current and ultimately lost. Swimmers are advised to swim parallel out of the current then back into the shore.
Shore-break — Stay away from the big waves that crash onto the shore. This is called “shore break” and the waves can hurt you. These waves are unpredictable and dangerous because they can cause shoulder, neck and back injuries to even the most experienced swimmer. When body surfing, it is recommended doing so with your head up and your arms out in front of your body to protect yourself.
Be aware that the surf zone topography can be variable. A beach face may be narrow or steep. The trough and terrace may contain ridges, holes and drop offs. Often, when the depth is only waist deep on the sandbar, the water will be over your head on the way out. In other areas, it may be shallow the whole way out to the sandbar. For your protection, people will be kept off the sandbar until it is reasonably safe for young people and poor swimmers alike, to access the sandbar.
Lightning — is the third deadliest threat for carefree sunbathers and swimmers every year. When a storm rolls in, beaches will often close: that’s because even though beaches are not as tall as skyscrapers, they are common places for lightning to strike. Get out of the water and leave the beach if you see lightning or hear thunder. The lifeguards are in constant communication with the National Weather Service and will clear the beach if lightning is near. Listen to the directions of the lifeguard at your beach at all times and do what they say. So when the clouds start forming and the winds begin to howl, don’t wait for it to blow over—pack up that umbrella and head home.
28 Inside Chincoteague 2023
Berm Face Terrace Trough Sandbar
Depth is often overhead
Lifeguards On Duty
Lifeguards provide proactive lifeguard services from Memorial day until October. For a safe recreational experience, locate near an on duty lifeguard and swim within the boundaries of the red over yellow flags. When swimming outside the lifeguard area or during off duty hours, take extra precaution by wearing a life-jacket. On average, Assateague Lifeguards make 78 ocean rescues, provide 73 first aids, find 31 missing persons and make over 8000 safety contacts and enforcement actions a year. We have achieved the goal of zero drowning within the lifeguard area since the establishment of these operations!
• Swim near an on duty lifeguard
• Learn to swim
National Park Service
Beach Flag Safety System
Yellow with black circle flags are permanently placed 50 yards beyond the lifeguard area and represent a safety zone. No fishing, no rigid craft, no open beach fires and no dogs permitted between these flags.
Red over yellow flags represents the area supervised by lifeguards. For safety, recreate within the boundaries of these flags.
Yellow flag indicates a moderate warning for surf conditions. Caution should be exercised
When you hear the whistle: Lifeguards will not signal swimmers simply because they are in deep water. The lifeguards will signal swimmers toward shore because they are approaching a hazardous area or they are moving too far out for adequate supervision.
First Aid and Rescue: The Lifeguard operation is equipped with rescue equipment and first aid supplies. The lifeguards are trained in ocean rescue and are certified Emergency Medical Responders. If you need assistance, contact a lifeguard or call 911.
Visitors with physical disabilities: Physically challenged individuals who require special consideration in aquatic recreation may want to use the protected beach. Beach wheelchairs are available. Contact a Lifeguard or Ranger for direction and assistance.
Surf Rescue Demonstrations: If you want to learn more about our lifeguard operation and more about beach and surf safety, attend one of our Lifeguard Surf Rescue Demonstrations.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10:00 am
Red flag indicates a high hazard exists such as strong surf and seaward currents.
Purple flag indicates potentially dangerous marine organisms such as stinging jellyfish are present.
Double red flags indicate a severe hazard and a closure is in effect. Visitors will be kept out of the water until the hazard subsides.
Inside Chincoteague 2023 29
There are several theories with regards to how the wild ponies arrived on Assateague Island. One draws from the many historically documented shipwrecks that have occurred off of the coast of Assateague Island. Oral history tells of a shipwreck involving a Spanish galleon carrying horses; the ship is believed to have wrecked off shore in the 1700s, and some of the horses were able to swim to land. Another story is that the ponies are descendants of colonial horses brought to Assateague Island in the 17th century by Eastern Shore planters. It is said that farmers were faced with new challenges when crop damage caused by free-roaming animals led colonial legislatures to enact laws requiring fencing and taxes on livestock.
Do you know which is true?
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Folklore Meets Science
TThe history of the Assateague ponies, including the world-famous Chincoteague ponies, might now have archaeological proof of their origins.
When researcher Nicolas Delsol at the Florida Museum of Natural History wanted to understand how cattle were domesticated in America, he began sequencing DNA from numerous archaeological sites. “It was a serendipitous finding,” he said. “I was sequencing mitochondrial DNA from fossil cow teeth for my Ph.D. and realized something was very different with one of the specimens when I analyzed the sequences.” Different because the tooth in question was from a horse.
According to the study published July 27, 2022, in the journal PLOS ONE, the DNA obtained from the tooth is also the oldest ever sequenced for a domesticated horse from the Americas. It sheds much light on how horses found their way to the Mid-Atlantic Coast. That one tooth, found on the forgotten Caribbean Island of Puerto Real (now a part of Haiti), connects the ponies of Assateague Island, including the world-famous Chincoteague Ponies, to horses from Puerto Real.
A brief history of horses in the Americas
The horse first appeared on the North American continent during the Pliocene era (5.4 -2.4 million years ago) and spread to and across Eurasia. However, all horses disappeared from the Western Hemisphere during the megafauna extinction event at the end of the Pleistocene period (from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago). It was not until the late 15th century and the arrival of European explorers in the Caribbean that horses returned to the Americas, this time as Equus caballusthe domestic horse.
The introduction of the domestic horse began with the second voyage of Columbus. In 1493, a royal ordinance from the Castilian monarchs ordered Fernando de Zafra
to hire Andalusian horsemen to accompany Columbus on his second exploration. Oviedo y Valdés reports that, after Columbus boarded these horses on ships in the Canary Islands, they arrived on Hispaniola, in the town of La Isabela (Dominican Republic), on November 28, 1493.
Over the next decade, the horse population on Hispaniola increased from a few dozen individuals to large herds, thanks to favorable environmental conditions and continued importation of animals from the Iberian Peninsula. Eventually, the governor of the West Indies, Nicolás de Ovando, decreed there was no need to import more horses because the population was sufficient on the island. In this same decade, horses were taken to other Caribbean islands as Spanish interests expanded. By the 1520s, horses had reached the Mesoamerican mainland, and by 1538, the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico in what is now Florida. A permanent Spanish presence was established on the North American coast by 1565. Later, horses from other European regions were brought to the Americas. For example, in the 1620s, in the British-sponsored colonies of New England, horses were brought from northern Europe, mainly from England and the Netherlands. These later imports were of diverse breeds, some larger and better suited to labor than the earlier Spanish imports. As a result, horse breeding rapidly became an important activity in some British colonies. By the 18th century, New England horses were a major export to the Caribbean, where the sugarcane industry was in critical need of draft animals.
Horses were not only pivotal to the European military expeditions in the Americas, but they also held a crucial role in the implementation of post-Columbian industries such as ranching, in which horses were used to manage the wide-ranging cattle. With the rapid growth of cattle herds, many horses became feral. By the 1650s, they were widespread from Mexico to the Great Plains of North America, where they were tamed and re-domesticated by Native American communities of the Great Plains. Horses deeply impacted Native cultures in many regions by providing greater mobility through an equestrian lifestyle.
The only study of the population genetics of present-day horses in the Western Hemisphere reveals that Iberian animals were more diverse than any American horse breeds. And many Western hemisphere
breeds can be traced back to the Iberian Peninsula. It also showed that diversity is highest in the Caribbean among the Western Hemisphere breeds, based on the Puerto Rican Paso Fino breed. The Puerto Real specimen and its ancient DNA presented in this finding is critical to understanding the history of domestic horses in the Americas and the relationship to Spanish explorers/colonists on the Atlantic coast. The tooth directly connects the horses from Puerto Real, who arrived via Spanish Galleons, to wild horses of the Mid-Atlantic.
Folklore meets science
According to the National Park Service, which manages the Maryland herd of ponies on Assateague Island, the likeliest explanation is that the horses were brought over in the 1600s by English colonists from the mainland in an attempt to evade livestock taxes and fencing laws.
Others believe the wild herds descend from horses that survived the wreck of a Spanish galleon and swam to shore. Marguerite Henry popularized this story version in the 1947 children’s novel “Misty of Chincoteague.”
Until now, there has been little evidence to support either theory. The results of the DNA analysis, however, unequivocally point to Spanish explorers as being the likeliest source of the horses on Assateague, Delsol explained. “It’s not widely reported in the historical literature, but the Spanish were exploring this area of the mid-Atlantic pretty early on in the 16th century. The early colonial literature is often patchy and not completely thorough. Just because they don’t mention the horses doesn’t mean they weren’t there.”
The feral herds on Assateague weren’t the only horses to revert to their wild heritage after arriving in the Americas. Colonists from Europe brought horses of various breeds and pedigrees, some of which escaped into the surrounding countryside.
Today, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management estimates there are approximately 86,000 wild horses throughout the U.S.- most of which are located in the western states of Nevada and Utah. Delsol hopes that future ancient DNA studies will help decode the complex history of equine introductions and migrations over the last several centuries, offering a clearer understanding of today’s diversity of wild and domesticated horses.
Chincoteague Pony Centre
Chincoteague Island Outfitters
Miles of beautiful estuaries, calm waters, and an abundance of wildlife lies all around the island. Kayak tours are available almost any time of year, weather permitting, and are an excellent way to explore the quieter side of the resort. Many outfitters staff Naturalists that are well versed in local flora and fauna. Guided tours are not only fun but educational as well. Some tours take you to Assateague Island, a nearby barrier island, where you can view the world-famous ponies in their island habitat. Get an up-close look at local aquatic or avian life. It’s an immersion experience no touch tank can match!
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Daisey’s Island Cruises
Year ‘Round Chincoteague to Assateague Island Boat Tours
On our nature cruises you will experience Assateague Island in a way that is simply not possible from land. Let us show you the hidden beauty and wildlife of Assateague Island. Tour with Daisey’s Island Cruises for a truly memorable experience. Custom and private large and small boat adventures available.
Ticket Office located at 4103 Main St. Downtown- Chincoteague Island
Boat departs 2246 Curtis Merritt Harbor Drive. (757) 336-5556
Family and Dog friendly
Small and large boat adventures
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36 Inside Chincoteague 2023 Inside Chincoteague is only $15.95! Order Yours Today, while supplies last, at InsideChincoteague.com Or visit Sundial Books, at 4065 Main St.,Chincoteague! Need A Copy To Take Home? RefugeBikes.com 757-336-5511 The Bike Depot The closest bike rentals to the beach! 7070 Maddox Blvd. next to the Refuge Inn Offering a wide selection of over 200 standard and specialty cycles for riders of all ages. Trail maps included with every rental. Friendly, knowledgeable local staff. Sorry, no reservations. Hourly, Daily, and Weekly rates available. Open March-November. Hang 1O with Maui Jack! MauiJack's.com (757) 336-1800 Chincoteague, VA
Your vacation rental resource!
Chincoteague Island Outfitters
All the fun stuff for your family vacation is just a call or click away, and we deliver to your door!
Anyone who has been on vacation, especially with children, knows the struggle of packing, not just packing for your destination, but repacking to leave as well. You always have more stuff at the end of the vacation, and somehow, things do not fit as easily as before.
Chincoteague Island Outfitters (CIO) strives to make that experience a little easier by offering a variety of beach equipment, tables and chairs, kayaks, and much more all for rent. They also have unique gifts available for purchase. Don't be caught on the hot sand without a chair!
Come to CIO for all your vacation rental needs. We are always adding to our inventory, so please ask if you don't see something on our list! Free Delivery on the Island!
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Eastside Road, Chincoteague Island (757)-336-5129 chincoteagueoutfitters.com
The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
The Refuge was established in 1943 to provide habitat for migratory birds, and it protects more than 14,000 acres of beach, dunes, marsh, including maritime forest. Every season brings unique opportunities to enjoy wildlife observation and photography. Songbirds, wading birds, and shorebirds arrive in spring, and many stay throughout the summer. Fall brings migratory raptors and monarch butterflies, followed by the waterfowl that will spend the winter on the Refuge. Visitors can explore trails, visit the beach, see the historic Assateague Lighthouse, and more!
The Refuge also offers various special events throughout the year, so please see their website or inquire at a visitor center for details.
Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center (757-336-6122)
This center is the second left upon entering the Refuge and features an information desk, exhibits, and videos shown on request in the auditorium. Refuge Headquarters is co-located with the Chincoteague Natural History Association (In the same building) who operate a book store, and run seasonal Refuge Treks from the center; call 757-336-3696 for details.
Toms Cove Visitor Center (757-336-6577)
Located next to the recreational beach at the end of Beach Road, this center features a small aquarium and touch tank, a bookstore, and an information desk. Ranger-guided programs are available seasonally. Contact the center for up to date information.
Safety Measures and Notes to Protect You & the Wildlife
Protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes; they may carry disease. To avoid contact: stay on trails; use a repellent; wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants while exploring the area; and inspect yourself carefully when you leave.
Ponies and wildlife on the Refuge may carry diseases. Feeding and touching animals puts you and your family at risk. Enjoy all wildlife from a distance, even if they seem friendly.
Poison ivy is abundant on the Refuge. It can grow as either a vine, shrub, or single plant but always has three leaves at the end of a stem. Please stay on refuge trails to avoid contact.
It is relatively common to observe seals loafing on the beach, ponies lying down, or sea turtles laying eggs in the sand. We are guests in their home, so please give them their space. If they react to your activity, you are too close. In cases of sick or injured wildlife, minimize the animal’s stress by keeping a safe distance (100 ft) and contact refuge staff.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Trail
Lighthouse Trail (0.25 miles)
Walking - moderately easy (sandy hill)
Marsh Trail (0.5 miles)
Walking - easy
Bivalve Trail (0.25 miles)
Walking - moderately easy (uneven terrain)
Service Road (7.5 miles)
Walking - easy
First mile open to bicycling
Walking and bicycling - easy Open 3:00 PM to dusk to vehicles
Walking and bicycling - easy
Black Duck Trail (1 mile)
Walking and bicycling - easy
Walking and bicycling - easy
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Trails Wildlife Loop (3.2 miles)
Woodland Trail (1.6 miles)
Swan Cove Trail (0.5 miles)
Bivalve Trail South Over Sand Vehicle Zone North Over Sand Vehicle Zone D Dike C Dike Toms Cove Little Toms Cove Swan Cove Pool South Wash Flats North Wash Flats Assateague Bay Black Duck Pool Snow Goose Pool Pintail Pool Farm Fields Pool Gadwall Pool SowPond AssateagueChannel Mallard Pool Shoveler Pool NPS Visitor Center Atlantic Ocean N 0 0 2000 4000 Feet .5 1 Mile Hiking Trails Parking Lighthouse Visitor Center Restrooms Pony View Beach Access Crabbing Fishing Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce Hiking/Biking Trails Observation Platform LEGEND Beach Area - Open to Public Over Sand Vehicle Zones Seasonal Closures Apply Closed Areas - Stay on Trails Kayak Launch MainStreet MainStreet Pony Swim Maddox Boulevard The Refuge is Open Seven Days a Week May through September 5:00 A.M. - 10:00 P.M. April & October 6:00 A.M. - 8:00 P.M. November through March 6:00 A.M. - 6:00 P.M.
Where people and wildlife meet.
Not a Great Beach Day?
...a few suggestions
Museum of Chincoteague
7125 Maddox Blvd. Chincoteague Island (757) 336-6117
Learn about the people, the culture and heritage that is Chincoteague Island. See Misty of Chincoteague too!
Delmarva Discovery Museum
2 Market Street, Pocomoke, MD (410) 957-9933
The Delmarva Discovery Center on the Pocomoke River serves as a source of learning and discovery for the public through the preservation and interpretation of its cultural and natural heritage.
NASA Visitor Center - Wallops Flight Facility
Route 175 Chincoteague, VA (757) 824-2298
The NASA Wallops Visitor Center is the place to explore the past, present, and future of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.
Museum of Chincoteague Island
Summer Hrs: 11am to 5pm - Tuesday - Saturday
Closed Sunday & Monday. Hours are seasonal please see our website or Facebook page for current times.
7125 Maddox Blvd. Chincoteague Island, VA 23336
Embark on a mission to explore the uniqueness of the NASA Wallops Flight Facility through a self-guided tour of the Visitor Center. Interact with exhibits, watch short films, and tour the rocket garden. Explore NASA’s missions first hand by attending a special event, public program, or by scheduling a program for your group.
Visitor Center Information
September through June Open Tues. - Sat. 10am - 4pm
July & August, Open Daily 10am - 4pm
40 Inside Chincoteague 2023 Rt. 413 to Crisfield, Tickets at the Capt. Tyler Motel smithislandcruises.com A Smith Island Cruise is a fun and inexpensive way to explore Maryland's last frontier, Smith Island. It’s also the home of the Maryland State Dessert, the famous Smith Island Layer Cake. So much to explore; museums, gift shops, restaurants and more! Bike and golf cart rentals available on the island. Leaves from Crisfield at 12:30 p.m. and leaves Ewell at 4:00 p.m. Purchase your tickets online at SmithIslandCruises.com A Great Way To Spend the Day! Smith
Reservations Required! Cruise/Crab Packages Available (410)-425-2771
Explore Wallops Visitor Center
the NASA Wallops Flight launch schedule here: www.nasa.gov/centers/wallops or download the “What’s Up Wallops” App!
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Decoys Decoys Decoys
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Osprey Nest Art Gallery & Gifts
Boutique Shopping in Historic Downtown
SShopping is another fun part of any vacation. There are shops nestled all along Main St. offering a variety of keepsakes to remind you of your Chincoteague vacation. There are gourmet delectables, local art shops, specialty shops, boutiques selling beachwear, and all the gear you may have forgotten when you packed. Maybe you're in the mood for something new and stylish to wear back home or even a bottle of wine to take back to your room. We are sure you can find it on Main St.!
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Osprey Nest Art Gallery & Gifts
Home of artist Kevin McBride
Your full service, locally owned independent book store
Daisey’s Island Cruises
Year ‘Round Chincoteague to Assateague Island Boat Tours
On our nature cruises you will experience Assateague Island in a way that is simply not possible from land. Let us show you the hidden beauty and wildlife of Assateague Island. Tour with Daisey’s Island Cruises for a truly memorable experience.
Family and Dog friendly. Large and small boat adventures.
Kevin McBride has owned the Osprey Nest Gallery for 40 years. You can find original works, giclees, and prints of the Chincoteague Ponies, wildlife, and landscapes by Kevin and other artists, each available to be custom framed to suit your décor. The Gallery also has a wide selection of pottery, jewelry, mugs, Christmas ornaments, and unique gifts. In the historic downtown area, the Osprey Nest Art Gallery is a must-see!
4096 Main St
Sundial Books, has been your locally owned, independent bookstore on Chincoteague for more than ten years. Our shelves include an eclectic mix of new and used books, local favorites and unexpected treasures. We also have a great selection of gifts and local art as well as new and used music CD’s and new LP’s. Stop in and browse!
Coming to Chincoteague for vacation and have a special book you want to read during your stay? Order online before you travel and have books waiting for you when you arrive on the Island.
Buy books online at sundialbooks.net.
4065 Main St
Ticket Office located at 4103 Main St. Downtown Chincoteague Island
Boat departs from 2246 Curtis Merritt Harbor Drive.
Custom and private large and small boat adventures available.
GetGready for a coastal dining experience. From Shore traditions to ethnic cuisines, you’re sure to find something delectable.
Seafood is caught daily from local waters, and fresh catch often includes Mahi Mahi, tuna, sea bass, sword, and even shark! Seafood can be prepared in so many ways; steamed, broiled, blackened, sautéed, the list goes on. Whichever you choose, don’t miss out on the local seafood!
Some of the world’s finest shellfish are found right off the coast, and local chefs are experts in its preparation. Chincoteague is famous for its oysters, and while aquaculture is part of modern-day island life, Islanders have been harvesting and sustaining the mollusk for generations. Truly some of the best oysters you will ever eat are from these waters.
You can spend the day shopping downtown and have a dining experience on the water too!
The freshest ingredients, in a comfortable setting
Ropewalk features waterfront dining and a beach with a tiki bar, fire pits, and children’s play area. Ropewalk is Chincoteague Island’s premier and newest waterfront restaurant, offering a family-friendly atmosphere, first class indoor and outdoor dining and the best sunset views in town. Enjoy fresh and enticing entrees on our varied menu, and relax at the bar with full wine, liquor, beer, and local craft brew selection. From the tropical beach to the beautiful Narrows Ballroom suitable for weddings and other events.
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Marlin St. Chincoteague Island
Wine Coffee & Gourmet
We have a little bit of everything to tempt you
Huge Wine and Craft beer selection! Let us lead you to your best wine and goodies perfect for your requested palette choices with our trained staff and welcoming service! Cigars, Gifts, and Gourmet Pantry featuring fancy cheeses, mustards, bruschetta, crab salsa, pepper jellies, crostinis and hot sauces! Everything you need for a fun evening, nature picnic or Custom gift basket made to order. Our to-go coffee bar offers the best coffee in town with locally roasted beans and addictive cold brew! Tickle your sweet tooth with our handmade chocolates, selection of sweets, and baked goods! A full service gourmet market located in the heart of downtown - locally owned and operated! Our market connects to the mothership Island Butterfly Jewelry & Jubilee for an added shopping experience all in one location open 12 months a year!
Island (757) 336-2610
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Island Butterfly Jewelry & Jubilee
Locally owned by an Island native!
Open year-round, Island Butterfly provides the island’s most unique selection of Jewelry, Gifts, and Handmade treasures. Locally owned and operated since 2005, you won’t want to miss experiencing our unforgettable shop right in the heart of historic downtown! Connected to Wine, Coffee, & Gourmet with the doorway to the land of temptations...something for everyone oozing with small-town charm and personal customer service! Hope to see you soon!
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Main St. Chincoteague Island ShopIslandButterfly.com
Sterling Silver - Gemstones - Gifts Handmade - Unique Finds & More!
Flying Fish Gallery
Flying Fish Gallery has an assortment of glass, clay and metal art/jewelry. The store has been delighting visitors, since 2005 with that perfect vacation keepsake. You will find over 100 American artist on display, including 30 local and regional artist in the gallery.
4088 Main St. Chincoteague Island
Hollyhocks is a destination to visit when you are in Chincoteague. The shop features an eclectic blend of home decor, unique finds and much more... sourced from all over the world as well as from local artisans.
4090 Main St.
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Flying Fish Gallery
Hollyhocks Home Decor, Unique Finds & More
Decoys Decoys Decoys
So many choices!
Unique crafts made locally
One of the largest selections of hard-carved waterfowl on the East Coast. You will find antique, primitive and decorative carvings; many complete with full feathering. The shop boasts over 99 skilled carvers.
4039 Main St.
From children’s items and gifts to fun island keepsakes and all made right on the Island, the Eastern Shore and beyond. Browse often as things change frequently!
Wine Coffee & Gourmet Island Artisans
4098 Main St. Chincoteague Island
TTake time to explore Maddox Boulevard while in town. It's home to the number one ranked Ice Cream Parlor in the Country, according to trip advisor in 2014; a visit to the Island Creamery will not disappoint! However, if a soft-serve is more your style, the historic Mr. Whippy serves up favorites, including banana splits and delicious sundaes.
Food-trucks and tiny shops are tucked along this road to the beach; much like Downtown, it's a good idea to park, walk, and explore.
Closer to the ocean, you will find a the Museum of Chincoteague, a waterpark, mini golf, and other family-friendly activities that bring that summer vacation to life after a sunny sandy day at the beach.
Serving Neighbors and Making Friends Since 1975
Chincoteague Pony Centre
We churn out frozen desserts daily, in small batches, right in our shop. We use an all-natural premium butterfat mix ensuring a rich, creamy ice cream. Inspiration for flavors come from the local fruit available to us or from tasty inclusions made in our kitchen. Since 1975, our family has served the Island and its neighboring communities as well as countless visitors.
A place to interact with ponies and other animals. 6417
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Maddox Blvd. Chincoteague Island
Carriage Dr. Chincoteague Island
Rides Riding Lessons
& Horse Demos
Zoo of Rescued Animals, Mini Pony Club Experience
Scene Tours Pony
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Pony Penning 2023
This year will be the 98th Chincoteague Pony Swim, made famous by Marguerite Henry's "Misty of Chincoteague." Tens of thousands of people from around the globe gather to watch this annual tradition, and it's a week-long event!
Saturday, July 22 & Sunday, July 23 - Roundup
There are approximately 50 adult ponies and their foals who live on the southern end of Assateague Island. On Saturday afternoon, the Saltwater Cowboys will begin rounding them up into the Southern Corral. This corral is located on Assateague, on the road to the beach, and is accessible to the public. The public can view the Ponies in the Southern Corral all day Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Approximately 100 adult ponies and foals call the north end of the Island home. Those ponies are rounded-up on Sunday morning before Pony Penning and herded to the North Corral. While this corral does not have public access, there are bus trips available to view them at this location. Space is limited. Inquire at your hotel for more information.
Monday, July 24 - Beach Walk
On Monday, at daybreak, the official "Beach Walk" gets underway as the Saltwater Cowboys move the ponies from the Northern Corral south along the Atlantic Ocean and join them with the ponies in the Southern Corral. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge will open at 5:00 a.m. on Beach Walk day, to view the Ponies journey down the beach.
Tuesday, July 25 - Vet Checks
All of the Ponies will be checked by a vet, and this activity can be viewed by the public in the Southern Corral on the road to the beach.
Wednesday, July 26 - Pony Swim
Pony Swim is the peak of this week-long celebration as the Saltwater Cowboys swim the ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island. The Ponies will swim across the Channel on the slack tide (the actual swim time varies from year to year and is typically between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.) and come ashore on the east side of Chincoteague Island.
The main public viewing area is Veterans Memorial park, located at 7427 Memorial Park Drive. The Ponies arrive on Shore just a bit south of the Park on Pony Swim Lane, but that particular area is very "marshy" and space there is very limited. A large screen located in the Park offers a live feed of the swim and dry ground.
The Town of Chincoteague provides a free Pony Shuttle service, as early as 4:00 am. The Pony Shuttle runs between many locations on the Island and Veterans Memorial Park, and it is the best way to get to and from the Swim. Crowds are notoriously large, so plan pro-actively. Check with your hotel for the closest Shuttle stop and the most up to date time for the actual swim.
The first foal to come ashore will be named King or Queen Neptune and will be given away in a raffle drawing at the carnival grounds later in the day. Tickets for the raffle are sold each night at the carnival and amongst the crowd waiting for the swim. You must have a ticket and be present during the drawing to win!
The Parade to the Carnival Grounds typically takes place after the ponies have had a 45-minute rest after swimming the channel. The Saltwater Cowboys then "parade" them down Main Street, completing their trek at the Carnival Grounds.
Thursday, July 27 - Auction
Auction of the foals begins at 8 a.m. at the Carnival Grounds. The annual round-up, swim, and auction help control the size of the herd, keeping it manageable and healthy. The event is also a fund-raiser for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company which uses a portion of the proceeds for veterinary care of the herd throughout the year. All winners are provided with credentials indicating the purchase of a true Chincoteague Pony.
Each year the Fire Company members designate a select few ponies as "Buy Backs" ponies included in the auction. These foals will return to Assateague Island to live out their lives. Buy Backs perpetuate the herd for its long-term existence. Winners of Buy Back Ponies get to name the Pony before it is returned to Assateague. It's also interesting to note that Buy Back Ponies have become some of the highest priced ponies sold at the auction. The Fire Company also donates the proceeds from the sale of one foal annually to a non-profit and have included beneficiaries such as Wounded Warriors, Hospice, Palliative Care of the Eastern Shore, and Alzheimer's Adult Care.
Friday, July 28 - Return Swim
The Return Swim to Assateague is a great time to see the ponies in the water. Crowds is typically smaller as the week-long event comes to a close.
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All times subject to change.
Wild Ponies, Shipwrecks & People
by Theresa Petroni-Conaway
“…but they were free, free, free! They raised their heads and snuffed the wind. The smell was unlike that of the lowland moors of Spain, but it was good! They sucked in the sharp, sweet pungence of pine woods, and somewhere mixed in with the piney smell came the enticing scent of salt grass.” (Misty of Chincoteague)
InI1947, Marguerite Henry published Misty of Chincoteague, a children’s book about a Chincoteague Pony adopted by Paul and Maureen Beebe of Beebe Ranch. The book opens with the wreck of a Spanish galleon off the coast of Assateague Island, freeing the ponies to swim safely ashore and roam wild across the Island. However, centuries pass before we meet our protagonists, Paul and Maureen Beebe, who fall in love with a pony from Assateague Island and aspire to keep her. This delightful story has enchanted visitors for decades and brought much fame to Chincoteague Island and its ponies. Nevertheless, like most stories, the story of Misty of Chincoteague and the wild ponies on Assateague continues beyond the pages.
Chincoteague Island, meaning “a land between,” is a 9.3 square mile barrier island off the eastern shore of Virginia, just south of the Maryland border. Its neighbor, Assateague Island, is the larger of the two and is divided between Virginia and Maryland, with the southern end of the Island shielding Chincoteague from the force of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the famous saltwater ponies roam.
The Chincoteague Pony is an official breed of horse that lives on Assateague. Between the horses’ small stature and shared history with Chincoteague, the name is not so much a misnomer. There are herds on both the Northern and Southern sides of Assateague Island. Within each herd, the horses separate themselves into smaller bands of mares and foals led by a stallion. They subsist mainly on cordgrass – a type of salt-marsh grass – but their diets are supplemented by other local vegetation, including poison ivy. To compensate for the saltiness of their diets, the horses drink twice as much water as other horses, which gives the Chincoteague Ponies their characteristic round bellies. They find fresh or brackish water from the rain and vernal pools on Assateague. The horses are monitored, with limited interaction, by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company (CVFC), which owns the Virginia herd. The CVFC may call in veterinarians to care for sick ponies, provide hay and water in harsh weather, and control the herd’s population growth with the annual auction. Local boat captains help the CVFC by watching the horses while out on the water.
Each year (barring World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic), the wild horses on the Virginia side of Assateague Island are rounded up and corralled. There they are herded across the narrowest point in the channel between the islands and onto Chincoteague, where the foals are then put up for auction to keep the wild horse population sustainable and raise funds for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. This is Pony Penning, the famous annual event made all the more popular by Misty of Chincoteague and that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to Chincoteague Island.
The Pony Penning Swim occurs on the Wednesday before the last Thursday in July at slack tide, the pause between high and low tides, and the safest time for the swim. On the Saturday before the swim, the Saltwater Cowboys round up the southern herd and collect them in the southern corral. On the Sunday before the swim, the Saltwater Cowboys round up the northern herd to the northern corral, an event that is not open to the public. At sunrise the next day, the cowboys walk the ponies along the Assateague shoreline in the annual Beach Walk to join the southern herd in the southern corral on Assateague. Here the horses will be checked by a veterinarian and deemed able or not to make the swim. If they are not, they are taken by trailer to Chincoteague Island. The official Pony Swim is nearly a century old – it was started in 1925 – but the roots go even further back to the 1700s when islanders celebrated the yearly round-up of livestock turned loose to graze. The natural corral of an island made both Chincoteague and Assateague highly desirable pastures. It is in this practice that islanders developed their traditional’ homecoming.” While Pony Penning is sometimes known as “Christmas in July” on Chincoteague Island, historically, it was a gathering time when all family members would return home to help with the preparations, livestock, and round-up on Chincoteague and Assateague islands. The first written account of the pony penning tradition comes from an 1835 letter to a magazine. The event is described as an “ancient custom” that “inspired great celebration and attracted crowds from afar.” The Chincoteague Toll Road and Bridge construction in 1922 made the Island more accessible to outsiders. It boosted the Island’s tourism industry, as all prior access to the Island was by ferry or boat.
No one is yet sure of how the horses came to be on Assateague Island. Local legend says that a Spanish galleon on route to Peru held the horses as its cargo when it wrecked off the coast of Assateague Island and that the horses swam ashore to safety. In the 1800s, Assateague lighthouse keeper John Birch was said to have been able to point out
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the place on the beach where his father had shown him the wreck of the galleon. Recent DNA testing has revealed at least some Spanish ancestry in the Chincoteague Ponies and a close genetic relationship to a 16th-century Iberian horse. The legend gained even more popularity in 1947 with the publication of Misty of Chincoteague and in 1961 with the subsequent movie adaptation. It remains the most oft-cited explanation for how the horses came to live on Assateague.
Shipwrecks are not just a metaphor or literary device on islands like Chincoteague and Assateague. The remains of at least eight shipwrecks are known within the Assateague Island National Seashore. A study by the National Park Service revealed that at least 156 shipwrecks have occurred within the boundaries of the National Seashore, with another known 55 in the vicinity. Shipwrecks were often an economic windfall for islanders, as any cargo that could be recovered was legally considered fair game for the person who recovered it. Locals on Assateague could often recount the names of the captains and crew members whose ships wrecked off the coast and frequently assisted in daring rescues. When the Life Saving Stations were built on Assateague, it was said that “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back!”
Chincoteague history is also intertwined with shipwreck survivors, such as Timothy Hill, whose house is now the oldest on the Island, or James Lunn, from whom 25 percent of islanders can trace their heritage.
The original First Order Fresnel lens from the top of the Assateague Lighthouse has found its home at the Museum of Chincoteague Island. These lenses were instrumental in reducing the number of shipwrecks off the coast, as their light could be seen for 20 miles before being obscured by the curvature of the Earth. Although it was originally lit with a whale oil lamp, the Museum lights its lens with a bulb the size of a soda can, so visitors can see how the lens works.
Today, visitors to the Museum of Chincoteague Island can learn all about the history of the Chincoteague Ponies, Chincoteague Island and its residents, and more! In addition, some exhibits cover the history of the Island, from pre-historic fossils to the present day.
The Museum has an exhibit for everyone. Even if you have visited the Museum before, the exhibits are constantly changing, and you will surely find something new! For example, the exhibit on Shipwrecks has many items salvaged from wrecks off the coast of Assateague, including a dictionary from the Presidential yacht.
For those interested in genealogy, there are books and bibles with Island names dating back to the 1700s. In addition, there is a touch-table exhibit for children with shells and fossils and plenty of opportunities for a selfie. Finally, of course, see the real Misty and her daughter Stormy on display at the Museum of Chincoteague Island!
We hope that you enjoy your time on Chincoteague Island, and while you are here, come by the Museum to learn more about Chincoteague and the people and ponies who have lived here.
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The First Order Fresnel lens is lit by a single light bulb.
The real Misty of Chincoteague now calls the Museum home.
Five Great Reasons to Swim in the Cold Ocean
DDo you enjoy swimming in the cold, refreshing ocean regularly? If so, it probably means you're lucky enough to live near the shore. If not, perhaps you should ensure regular beach vacations are a part of your life. Humanity has known about the health benefits of swimming in the ocean for thousands of years. The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, encouraged others to take advantage of the health benefits that bathing in seawater can offer. Here are a few reasons to swim in the cold ocean as often as possible:
Have you ever observed the positive impact a swim in the ocean has on your skin? The sea is rich in natural minerals. For example, ocean water contains sulfur, sodium, selenium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Many people pay good money for skin lotions that contain such ingredients. You can enjoy the benefits of such minerals and skin health for free if you regularly bathe in the ocean.
Swimming in the ocean may also be therapeutic for people who suffer from particular skin conditions. For example, regular sun exposure and bathing in salty water can provide people living with psoriasis with significant remission from their condition.
Moreover, bathing in the ocean may help those suffering from acne. That's because salt has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
However, before you jump into the ocean for a dip to improve your skin, take a few precautions. If the weather is warm, protect your skin against the sun's damaging rays with a good quality sunscreen. Also, consider that humans are polluting the oceans and seas with various
poisons. Therefore, swimming in the ocean is not good if you have any open wounds. It's wise to shower as soon as you can after swimming in the sea.
Improved Mental Health
Swimming in the cold water of the ocean regularly can be brilliant for your mental health. This is because exposure to cold water releases three mood-boosting hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones are dopamine, noradrenaline, and endorphins. Higher levels of such hormones can help to treat depression symptoms.
Exposure to cold water via ocean bathing can also help with the practice of mindfulness, as evidenced by Dutch journalist Wim Hof. He regularly endures frigid temperatures. He claims regular exposure to colder temperatures
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will reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and give you more energy.
How can exposing your body to the cold via an ocean swim help with mindfulness? People who practice mindfulness strive to live in the present moment rather than thinking about the past or the future. If you're physically cold, it's rather challenging to think about anything other than the icy temperature you're experiencing.
Swimming in the frigid ocean regularly can also improve your blood circulation. Hydrotherapy employing exposure to cold temperatures results in increased blood flow to the tissues beneath the sites of cold exposure. Poor circulation can lead to serious health complications, including heart failure, stroke, blood clots, and ulcers. With this in mind, why not improve your circulation by swimming in the cold ocean whenever possible?
When your body is exposed to the ocean's cold water, it causes a stress reaction. This stress reaction can trigger the production of extra white blood cells, namely monocytes and lymphocytes.
Recent and ongoing world events prove that humans risk harm from various pathogens. To fight off potentially dangerous illnesses, you need a healthy immune system with many white blood cells. If you want to strengthen your immune system, consider swimming in the chilly ocean whenever possible.
Could regular dips in the icy-cold ocean help you manage your weight? Swimming is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. However, unlike other forms of cardiovascular exercise, swimming doesn't stress your joints.
Additionally, colder temperatures can help your body produce more brown fat cells. Brown fat is good for weight control. It enables the body to burn calories. It can also help to regulate insulin levels.
Obesity is a serious health condition in the United States and other parts of the world. Moreover, being seriously overweight can lead to other potentially life-threatening health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes. If you're trying to manage your weight, a regular swim in the ocean or any other cold body of water can help you to shed a few pounds and improve your overall health.
Book A Vacation
Perhaps you don't live anywhere near an ocean or any other cold body of water. In that case, try to book a vacation to the sea as often as your budget allows. Remember that short holidays can be less expensive and who doesn't welcome a quick get-away? The beaches are less busy in the off-season and less hustle and bustle makes for even more relaxation.
Vacations cost less in the off-season. If you peruse the internet, you'll see many excellent, reasonably-priced beach weekends in the cooler shoulder and winter seasons.
If frequent ocean vacations aren't possible, there are other ways of experiencing the health benefits associated with exposure to cold water. For example, you may want to try a cold shower now and again. You could even try the occasional ice bath if you feel courageous.
Bathing or swimming in the cold ocean doesn't sound difficult. However, it requires an element of courage. This is due to the shock to the system that cold water causes. Yet, it's worth being brave and finding the courage to endure the chilly water intermittently. Doing so will enable you to enjoy all of the associated health benefits. So why wait? Take the plunge as soon as you can. Then you'll know how great exposure to cold ocean water is for your health and well-being.
Inside Chincoteague 2023 65
Inside Chincoteague is only $15.95! Order Yours Today, while supplies last, at InsideChincoteague.com Or visit Sundial Books, at 4065 Main St.,Chincoteague! Need A Copy To Take Home? Our books sell out every year!
WWe can't think of a better place to wake up than near the beach. The smell of the salt air, the warm breezes, and the relaxed pace set the stage for an amazing vacation. There is no better time to make your reservation than before you leave the island. Chincoteague Island offers many different accommodations, including bed & breakfast, private motels, nationally branded hotels, rental cottages, and homes, as well as investment properties for sale. If you're planning for the next year or decades to come, the lodging and real estate businesses among the pages of this book can help you set the scene for another amazing Chincoteague vacation!
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Waterside Inn 3761 South. Main St., Chincoteague Island Spectacular Sunsets Superior views of Wallops rocket launches 220-foot private fishing & crabbing pier Seasonal outdoor heated pool overlooking Chincoteague Channel Private guest marina Solar-heated, adult Jacuzzi & fitness room
(757) 336-3434 WatersideInn.biz Private Tennis Court Grills and picnic tables Conference & Hospitality Room Boat and trailer parking Glass elevator Beautiful rose gardens Ask about Sunset Hill Condo!
Family owned and operated by island natives.
Inside Chincoteague 2023 69 Key West Cottages Life is better on the Bay. Refreshed & ready to exceed your expectations. Our award-winning waterfront resort offers an array of on-site amenities, exceptional customer service, & easy access to the island’s most popular restaurants, boutiques, and attractions. ChincoteagueComfortSuites.com KWCottages.com Nautical-inspired resort with breathtaking views, amenities to suit any traveler, and the ideal location to enjoy all that Chincoteague Island offers. Let time slow down, and breathe in the salty air from your private cottage. Comfort Suites Enjoy the Suite Life. (757)-336-3700 (757)-336-7400 New for 2023!
Yes, please! Imagine waking up to a stunning water view or just the charm of the Island. Life is simpler in Chincoteague and on Virginia's Eastern Shore in general. A walk or run on the beach in the morning is a beautiful way to start your day. Then head to the local coffee shop for a fresh cup from a barista who knows your name and your favorite brew.
Do you work from home? You can draw great inspiration from a beautiful view. Maybe you're headed out to work. The Shore is an exceptional place to come home to at the end of a busy day. When your job is complete, there are evening, weekend, and seasonal activities to round out a rich life.
We will leave it here so you can write your own Island Life experience.
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757-336-3200 GoWithDockside.com 6325 Maddox Blvd. Chincoteague, VA
Index of Sponsors
A sincere “thank you” to our sponsors. Please visit their businesses, they helped make this book possible.
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19 Anchor Inn 6 Beach Bay Realty
Best Western (Inside Back Cover) 37 Chincoteague Island Outfitters 55 Chincoteague Pony Centre 69 Comfort Suites 35, 48 Daisey Island Cruises 53 Decoys Decoys Decoys 24 Delmarva Unleashed BC,72 Dockside Properties (Back Cover) 52 Flying Fish Gallery 52 Hollyhocks 53 Island Artisans 51 Island Butterfly Jewelry & Jubilee 55 Island Creamery 69 Key West Cottages 19 Marina Bay Hotel & Suites 36 Maui Jacks Waterpark 2 Meghan O. Clarkson - Long & Foster 39 Museum of Chincoteague 48 Osprey Nest Art Gallery & Gifts 49 Ropewalk Chincoteague 13 Saltwater Pony Tours 40 Smith Island Cruises 48 Sundial Books 36 The Bike Depot 25 The Plaid Dog 68 Waterside Inn 50 Wine Coffee & Gourmet 41 Worcester County Tourism
7105 Maddox Blvd. Chincoteague Island (757) 336-6557
Well Appointed Spacious Guest-rooms
Closest Lodging To The Wildlife Refuge And The Beach !
Enjoy Our Relaxing Fire Pit
Views of the Lighthouse & Wallops Launch Pad
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