The Eastern Shore of Virginia has a unique history influenced by agriculture, fishing, and tourism. In the 1600s, Jamestown settlers crossed the Chesapeake Bay to the Eastern Shore in search of salt. Finding an abundance of beautiful, fertile land, seafood, and wildlife, families started settling and acquiring farms and home sites on the water. The area became a major source for grains in the 17th century, and Oyster became the only deep water port shipping grains to the Caribbean.
The Barrier Islands were once popular hunting and fishing destinations for the rich and famous. In the 1940s, oysters from the Barrier Islands were in high demand and sent to St. Louis, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia via the Pennsylvania Railroad system. Storms and time took its toll on the fragile ecosystems, and now the majority of the 18 barrier islands on the Atlantic side of the Eastern Shore of Virginia are undeveloped.
Virginia's Eastern Shore is rich in beautiful, untouched natural resources, and charming historic downtowns with quaint hotels, restaurants and shops. It is still a sportsman’s paradise offering hunting, fishing, boating, bird watching, biking and other water activities. A majority of the land is owned by the Nature Conservancy, and it is the longest expanse of coastal wilderness remaining on the eastern seaboard of the United States.