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Ponies, Oysters, and Watermen The Story of Chincoteague by Harold W. Hurst

Located off the Eastern Shore of Virginia, only a few miles below the Maryland border, lies the island town of Chincoteague. This charming resort embodies the natural beauty of the surrounding beaches and woodlands, as well as the quaint presence of churches, homes and shops found in the downtown business district. A brochure published by the local Chamber of Commerce advertises the friendly nature of the locals, as well as the “old-fashioned Southern hospitality.” The principle attraction that has long lured visitors and tourists to Chincoteague is the presence of the wild ponies. The origin of this species is in dispute; one legend has

it that they originally came from a vessel shipwrecked off the shore of Assateague in the 1700s. But some records indicate that herds of these wild ponies grazed on Chincoteague and Assateague long before the 18th century. Whatever their origin, the marshlands and freshwater glades on these islands provided rich pasture land that was not suitable for some of the agricultural crops found elsewhere in Maryland and Virginia. Livestock raising became a principle feature of the local economy from the earliest days. The rounding up of wild livestock on these islands is called “pony penning.” These annual af-

The ponies of Assateague and Chincoteague are a favorite attraction. 177

March 2015 ttimes web magazine  

March 2015 Tidewater Times

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