The History of
Virginia's Eastern Shore
These two counties are on the Atlantic coast of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The region is part of the Delmarva Peninsula and is separated from the rest of Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay. Terrain is very flat throughout, and dominated by cotton, soybean, vegetable and truck farming, and large scale chicken farms. There are many barrier islands. At the northern end of the Atlantic side are the beach community of Chincoteague, famous for its wild ponies; and Wallops Flight Facility, a NASA space launch base. Tangier Island, off the western shore in Chesapeake Bay, is also a day tourist destination.
The Eastern Shore, geographically removed from the rest of Virginia, has had a unique history of settlement and development that can be charted to agriculture, fishing, tourism and the Pennsylvania Railroad. William G. Thomas describes the Eastern Shore during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as "a highly complex and interdependent landscape." He continues: "It was a liminal place, a zone of interpenetration, where the settlement patterns, speech, demography, and political outcomes defined its place in the South but its engagement with technology and rapid transformation of the landscape betrayed other allegiances, motives, forces, and effects."
The 23-mile (37-km) long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and U.S. Highway 13 span the mouth of the Bay and connect the Eastern Shore to metropolitan Virginia Beach and the rest of the state.