There are several books which can provide you with some insight into the area if you have not previously visited our Island. The book images are linked to amazon.com
I recommend you consider James Michener's "Chesapeake". It is an interesting study of the Eastern Shore's people and the land and water that make up our home. It shows how the descendents of the original settlers evolved into the current residents. Mr. Michener lived in the Cambridge area while researching and writing this book however his description of the people and the area could have been interchanged with any of the towns on the Eastern Shore.
Marguerite Henry's "Misty of Chincoteague" is the book that brought Chincoteague and the ponies to national prominence. It is an excellent story about the interaction of Island children with their environment, the Island, its people and the ponies. This is a wonderful book for children.
The Seashore Chronicles is a collection of the writings of novelists, naturalists, journalists and outdoorsmen from 1650 to the present. It contains a wealth of information about the history and the people of the barrier islands of Virginia.
"The Hidden Galleon" by John Amrhein Jr. discusses the Spanish galleon La Galga and why he believes it carried the ponies who's descendents now populate Assateague Island. He discusses the great storm of 1749 which decimated all livestock on the Island and how the "Beach" ponies appeared shortly after the demise of the La Galga in 1750. While the evidence he presents is not absolutely conclusive the circumstances presented are very powerful. This image is linked to the Hidden Galleon website which contains a great deal of information on the history of the La Galga, Assateague Island and ponies.
In an Email to Captain Dan, image on the left, Mr. John Amrhein describes the difficulty he is having obtaining a permit to conduct a non-intrusive magnetometer survey of the suspected La Galga wreck site. According to John a request was filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to map, verify and document the site in February, 2008 . The site is on Assateague Island and within the bounds of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. They have refused to deny or grant the permit for the last two years. The Email image is linked to an article giving a timeline and John's efforts to have the site verified, evaluated and if appropriate nominated to the National Registry of Historic places
The image to the left is linked to an article in the August 15th, 1876 edition of the Wilmington Daily Commercial by Howard Pyle. It is his first know published article and described his visit to Chincoteague. Also linked on this page is his expanded article on the same subject as published in 1877 in Scribner's Monthly.
In "Starting at Sea level" Terry Noble recalls his and his brother's childhood on Maryland's bay side of the Eastern Shore. While not about Chincoteague specifically his childhood experiences are typical of the region. Mr. Noble's father was a Maryland Marine Resources' policeman. Mr. Noble describes the life of a Marine policeman and the problems encountered on the Chesapeake Bay's Maryland, Virginia line. His father was eventually wounded while patrolling above the line. Because of the resulting disability he was terminated from the service. The conflicts both on the bay and the seaside can be put into perspective by reading the Oyster Wars section of Mr. Michener's "Chesapeake"
The "Chincoteague Summer of 1948" is a series of recollections narrated to Ed Waterhouse by Thurston Watson, a Chincoteague native and lifelong waterman. Mr. Watson narrated his recollections while in the Parksley Nursing Home and died before they could be completed. The book is comprised of his reminiscences from his childhood during the summer of 1948. His tendency to exaggerate and create a fanciful tale now and then becomes apparent as you read through the chapters. It is none the less a good characterization of childhood life on the Island. Some of the matter covered in this book is mature in nature and as such I don't recommend it for children.
If "Starting at Sea Level", "Misty" and "Chincoteague Summer of 1948" are combined you will be left with a realistic understanding of the freedom children of the shore had during this period to explore and develop.
"Lilly on Dolphins" was written by Dr. John Lilly about his research on the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin. You should know some of his work is controversial. His work with isolation chambers, LSD-25 and "Vitamin K" was the basis for the movie "Altered States". The scene in "A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" where the dolphins are leaving earth singing "Thanks for the Fish" was a reference to Dr. Lilly's thoughts about dolphin intelligence. Also the film "Day of the Dolphin" was in part based on his attempts to establish interspecies communications. I found the section about Ms. Margaret Howe's experimental living, under his direction, with Pam and Peter Dolphin to be very interesting. Reading this book might cause you to consider the dolphin we sometimes see on our trips in a little different light. The book seems to be out of print however it is available used, at Amazon.com
If you are interested in the history of the United States Park Service on Assateague Island, "Assateague Island National Seashore an Administrative History" makes a fascinating read. It describes how the Island came to be included as part of the National Park System and how the property in Maryland was acquired. The formation of the "Chincoteague - Assateague Bridge and Beach Authority" and the subsequent purchase of its interest are detailed. The interagency rivalry between the Park Service and Refuge management after the purchase is explained. Bear in mind the document was written by the Park Service so the rivalry description could be one sided. It also details how the Park Service gained title to the ponies on the Maryland section of the Island. The enabling legislation and the "FWS - NPS Memorandum of Understanding" are included. The image to the right is linked directly to the document.
"A New Voyage Round the World" by William Dampier is an remarkable book written by a pirate about his adventures and travels around the world during the period 1679 to 1691. It is of interest here because his voyage began in Accomack (Achamack) County, Virginia. He stayed here for about 13 months and by some accounts married a second wife, who delivered his child after he left, one Daniel Dampier. Dampier refers to Accomack County, Virginia in the book by saying "That Country is so well known to our Nation, that I shall say nothing of it, nor shall I detain the Reader with the story of my own Affairs, and the troubles that befell me during about 13 months of my stay there". This may have been because he was still married to his wife Judith. She remained in England at the time of his reported liaison or marriage to the Accomack County gentlewoman Elinor that produced Daniel. Also "troubles" and pirates usually meant an involvement with some form of law enforcement. Some of his earlier exploits had been conducted without the benefit of a letter of marquee and in conflict with a treaty between Spain and England. During this same period some of his old associates were active in the Chesapeake Bay. Mr. William Dampier kept a detailed journal during his travels of which this book is the end product. His notes include his observations about the indigenous populations, their governments, the wildlife, sea life and vegetation found in the many lands he visited as well as the routine life on a pirate vessel. His charts and observations of winds, currents and weather systems were important contributions to the maritime community long after his death in 1715. His studies of vegetation and wildlife were used by Darwin. Captain Bligh's voyage on the Bounty was in part due to Dampier's observations of breadfruit. In the beginning of "Gulliver's Travels", Jonathan Swift, as Gulliver refers to William Dampier and this book. And it is probable that Alexander Selkirk was Daniel Defoe's inspiration for "Robinson Crusoe". Alexander Selkirk was a sailor marooned on an island in the Juan Fernandez Archipelago (also now called Robinson Crusoe Island) about 400 miles off the coast of Chili by one of his ships. This book is still in print. If you do choose to read it you will wonder why it is not required reading in today's world geography classes. While it is also available free at Archive.com the print type is easier to read in the current edition linked to by the image above.
All photographs not otherwise credited were taken by Captain Ray. All were taken on tours around the Island except the cormorants basking in the sun (taken on the interior of Assateague Island), heron standing and heron silhouetted in the sun. The picture of the eagle sitting in the tree on the Island was taken by Ms. Helena Jones on one of our tours and is used by permission. The photograph of the pelicans were taken by Mr. Otto Pehle and is used by permission. The photograph of the 1930 pony swim is a photograph of a photograph in August 17th, 1930 edition of the Richmond Times Dispatch and was seen hanging on the wall in a "Aunt Sarah's Pancake House" in Richmond Virginia. The Wallops Island eagle photographs were taken on Wallops Island. Photographs taken by Captain Ray prior to 10/01/2008 were copied from 35mm film. Those taken after 10/1/2008 by Captain Ray were taken with a Canon Rebel XSI with a 75-300mm lens.
Captain Ray grants permission to anyone who wishes to use any photograph which he has taken, the good, the bad and the ugly permission to do so for any noncommercial purpose.