40 for 40-Island #19: Chincoteague Island, VA



The Island: Chincoteague Island, VA

Where: Chincoteague is located on the Eastern Shore of VA.  If you take the well known Chesapeake Bay Bridge tunnel and head north to the northern tip of Virginia you land in Chincoteague. (The eastern shore is very sleepy and lovely in general)

How: We headed north from Cape Charles up the Eastern Shore passing many little, sleepy fishing and crabbing towns. As seafood lovers, this was our kind of area. Chincoteague is a town ive wanted to visit for years and I knew it needed to be a stop on our island tour. 


Why: Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to see the infamous Chincoteague ponies swim in their annual pony swim. Our daughter has become very interested in horses and it just so happened the annual swim was during the time we were nearby. We awoke at about 5AM drove then took a bus then walked to the marshy area that ponies are known to swim to. After about 3 hours standing in the muck and grass we got word it was time for the swim! We were awestruck watching these little ponies swim in a large pack across teh water while being guided by the Saltwater Cowboys. It was mesmerizing!


What: For hundreds of years, wild ponies have inhabited neighboring Assateague Island. Its believed these ponies originate from a wrecked Spanish galleon from the 1800’s. Pony Penning and auctions date back to the 1800’s and in the early 1900’s after a string of disastrous fires, the Volunteer Fire Dept. turned the pony penning into a national event drawing thousands of people and fundraising dollars. In 1947, a book called Misty of Chincoteague was published and that along with the herd leaders, the Saltwater Cowboys, the event drew international attention. To this day, every year in July thousands come to the small town of Chincoteague to witness and often bid on the ponies. They are well known to be a strong breed and very sought after.