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Chincoteague pony swim 2007
The human history of Chincoteague, an island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, begins with Native Americans gathering shellfish there. By one popular tale, chincoteague meant "Beautiful land across the water" in their tongue. European settlers began to use the island in the 17th century. It had few residents, and was used primarily for grazing livestock - probably the origin of the feral Chincoteague ponies, which used to roam in the wild. The local fishing and seafood resources began to be systematically exploited in the early 19th century, and oysters became a major industry after the Civil War. Chincoteague's relative isolation ended in 1876 when the railroad arrived at Franklin City, across Chincoteague Bay, and a steamboat service was introduced; a causeway completed in 1922 allowed automobiles to reach the island. The Chincoteague Fire Department was established in 1925 and took over the traditional pony penning to raise funds. The annual carnival, pony swim (pictured), and subsequent auction now attract tens of thousands of visitors. The island, which was publicized by the 1947 book Misty of Chincoteague that became a 1961 film, is a major tourist destination in the area. (Full article...)

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