Chincoteague, Virginia- pronounced "shing-kuh-TEEG", is located on the Eastern Shore of the Delmarva Peninsula. The island of Chincoteague is very unique, boasting fresh seafood, history, and a beautiful beach! It's connected to Assateague Island National Seashore. I've been visiting since I was a baby. My grandparents once lived not to far from it. This is where I learned how to boogie board, dive through waves, and collect seashells.
The beach is a barrier island and with each year hurricanes and storms have slowly but surely eroded the sandy beaches. When I was little we used to buy a special pass, get there early, and drive our Izuzu Trooper down the sandy beach to find own private beach spot! Within the past 30 years the size of the beach has eroded to at least half the size it used to be. Gone are the bath houses, high dunes, and large parking lots. I hope it's around for my future generations to enjoy.
A herd of wild ponies have inhabited this sandy, marshy, pine tree covered island for over 200 years. No one knows for sure how the Chincoteague Ponies ended up on this island. One popular legend is that when a Spanish ship sank off the coast in the 1600's the surviving ponies swam to the island. There is a protected wildlife refuge where the herds roam wild. When I was a kid, the ponies would venture all the way to the road- sometimes right up to your car! In the picture above you can see a nosy pony checking out our car! I'm in the back in my car seat, what a treat. But I haven't seen them get that close in the past 10 years or so.
A famous annual event is "Pony Penning Day". Selected young ponies are herded from Assateague into the bay and they swim across to Chincoteague. Following the short swim they are penned and auctioned off. This has been a long held tradition, 2011 marks the 86th year. The 2011 Pony Penning Day and Fireman's Carnival is this week! The ponies will swim on Wednesday July, 27, 2011 and the auction will be on Thursday July 28, 2011. I've never been but I bet it's a really amazing thing to watch!
A Famous Chincoteague Pony
"Misty of Chincoteague" was a wild pony born on the island, made famous in a book written by Marguerite Henry in 1947. Misty's story was brought to the big screen in the 1960s! The movie premiere of "Misty" was held at the Historic Island Roxy Theater. Misty herself walked down the center aisle before the show. To commemorate the occasion, her hoof prints were captured in the sidewalk outside of the theater. Since horses can't write their own name, it was Marguerite Henry who wrote "Misty" above the prints. I went to take a picture and I was surprised how worn down the dedication has become. I think the hoof prints need to be preserved a little better! It would be such a shame for this historical landmark to be worn away don't you think?