Native American Issues

Very Remote Smith Island, Maryland

Posted on April 18, 2010. Filed under: Environmental Issues, Native American Issues, Nature, Travel |

Smith Island Seascape    Crab
Smith Island Seascape Crab
Boat that Brings Mail to Smith Island Smith Island Seascape
Boat that Brings Mail to Smith Island Smith Island Seascape
Seagull Boat passing our ferry
Seagull Boat Passing Our Ferry
Photos copyright 2010 VisualInfo.Biz, Inc.

When I found Smith Island on the map — it’s an island below the southern tip of Maryland’s Eastern Shore — I knew Chris had picked a good place to get away this weekend. It’s about a four-hour drive from northern Virginia to Crisfield, Maryland, one close mainlaind point near Smith Island.

Fewer than two hundred people live on Smith Island. You can only get there by boat — there are no roads to it. A boat brings mail to Smith Island every day. Drive to the end of Route 413 and you will find a few ferry boats that will take you over to Smith Island at 12:30 p.m. each day.

We rode over on a small boat with a family from Newport News, Virginia; another couple from Annapolis, Maryland; and a large Doodle dog. The ferry trip was about one pleasant hour each way.

There were a lot of houses pretty close to each other — some in excellent shape, some abandoned.

We had a few interesting conversations with locals. Some of the residents spoke with a heavy dialect that could be difficult to understand.

Most of the people on Smith Island earn a living by crabbing and digging for oysters. There were a lot of crab pots on the decks near the bay. Quite a few of the residents grew up on Smith Island and have crabbed for generations.

Chris and I asked about their schools. They have one school that everyone attends until eighth grade. Later on we found out from the family with whom we rode on the ferry that there are currently four girls and no boys in the seventh grade. After eighth grade, the high school children ride a boat to high school in Crisfield, Maryland on the mainland during the week.

We read beforehand that many people travel around the island on golf carts, and there did seem to be almost “a golf cart in every yard.” Most of the trucks and cars did not have license plates. We asked a few people about this, and they said that there was really no need for them.

These people said that there was no need for a legal system in general, and that they have never had police on Smith Island. When there are disputes, the people involved have handled them satisfactorily.

We also asked people how they deal with everyday shopping. A few locals told us that most people have cars parked on the mainland in Crisfield, Maryland. When they want to go shopping, they ride a boat over to their car. They go shopping and do other errands. When they are done, they pack their purchases on the boat and ride back home with them.

On the way back, we were looking for a museum run by the local Accohannock Tribe, which is state-recognized and seeking Federal designation. It was not open, but we chanced upon an interesting little store that we will visit again — Blue Heron Junction in Marion Station, Maryland. I talked to Lou Ann and Perry Brown for probably about an hour and purchased some interesting items. I have to go back for the harnd-carved wooden birds. They have a great mixture of old and new there — antiques, handmade items, and some real unique finds. I know plenty of people around Washington, D.C. would appreciate this little store.

I learned from Lou Ann that Marion Station has been officially designated a ghost town. I also learned that the big event in Crisfield, Maryland is the annual Crab Derby during Labor Day weekend, to which people have brought racing crabs from as far as Australia. Also there are local strawberry and daffodil festivals.

We are going back to this area sometime to at least see Tangier Island, and hopefully for our first Crab Derby.

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