Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Tangier Island

While most of our vacation was spent not leaving the confines of the pool, house, and beach, we did take one excursion while we were there to Tangier Island. A co-worker of Chris' told us about this tiny, secluded island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay that apparently boasts a population so cut off from society that they still sport an Elizabethan accent (which we found, in practice, unimpressive), and suffering from the constant threat of erosion, which some say will make the island disappear in the next 30-50 years. Apparently Tangier received a grant from the government a couple decades back to shore up and save the island on one side which was losing 10 to 15 feet of shoreline per year, but now the other sides are in danger of eroding. The island is 1.2 square miles. According to the 2010 census (and Wikipedia) the population was 727 six years ago. Our ship captain on the way over to the island told us that the day we visited the population was under 500 people. At the height of its population (the turn of the century or so) the population was 1500.

We took the Chesapeake Breeze over to the island from Reedville as it can only be reached by boat or plane. The roads on the island are narrow because there are no cars. We saw one police car, a couple random cars in peoples' yards, and a firetruck at the local station. Residents get around via golf cart, walking, or biking. According to a local resident, each graduating class size on the island is approximately 8 students. Talk about a small town!

We spent a couple hours walking around the town seeing the local churches (two on the island), fire station, post office, and just kind of taking in the lifestyle of the people who live there. For example, all the trashcans were decorated to look like little light houses. Tangier is the "soft shell crab" capital of the world, so pretty much everyone is involved in crabbing. There were small boats everywhere and all the dry land was connected over the little waterways (very marshy, not boating waterways) by small wooden bridges.

There is also a history of burying family members in their yards, so there were grave sites everywhere you looked. This practice was abandoned when people started running out of space, so now the two churches have cemeteries where they bury people.

It was almost unbearably hot on the island, so we made sure to stop for ice cream as soon as we could at a local place called Spanky's.

Before we left, Chris and Jonathan both got crab cakes (what Tangier is famous for) to take back on the boat from Four Brothers Crab Shack.

We really enjoyed the hour and forty-five minute boat ride to and from the island. It was great to be out on the bay enjoying the breeze and even saw dolphins on the way there! All in all, the trip would have been much more enjoyable if not for the heat, but we were all glad we went.


Dorothy said...

Interesting trip to the island!

Patty said...

Glad you all got to go. I'd love to see it sometime...in the fall!