Fast Backward: The Coast Guard Station and Boathouse at Assateague Island, VA

Hello again, happy readers!  Today, I take you to the barrier islands of Virginia: specifically, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Preserve on Assateague Island.

Whilst walking down the beach on an idyllic vacation in this mosquito-ridden paradise, I glimpsed from a distance a couple of abandoned buildings one fine summer’s eve.  Repelled by mosquitoes who feared neither the threat of slapping hands nor the stench of Deep Woods Off!, I vowed to return one day, armed with a map that showed me the objects of a future photographic mission: the Assateague Coast Guard Station.  It wasn’t until a year or so later when I returned during the winter–and not coincidentally, mosquito-free months–to photograph the lost and lonely of this stunning island.

These photos were taken in the early winter months of of 2012, so keep in mind that these photos are not current.

PLEASE NOTE that these photos are of the Assateague Island CG Station and Boathouse only.  Unfortunately, the Lifesaving Station, which was located near the head of the Woodland Trail, is no longer in existence.

Maps

CWRP Map 2

Behold, the object of my inquiry!  Looking at the above map toward the southern border of the island, you’ll note the Old Coast Guard Station, denoted on the southern-most edge of Tom’s Hook.  While the fish factory ruins are also present along that shoreline, we did not identify those ruins and were only successful in finding the old CG station.

Le Photos

And now, for the meat and potatoes of why you probably read this blog.  The photos!

Building 1, from a distance.  Presumed to be the fish factory ruins, but quickly proven to be something quite different.
Building 1, from a distance. The CG station’s boathouse.
Building 2, from a distance.  This building was correctly presumed to be the old Coast Guard Station House.
Building 2, from a distance. This building was correctly presumed to be the old Coast Guard Station House.
Closer view of Building 1, which, as I get closer, is clearly on the water.
Closer view of Building 1, which, as I get closer, is clearly on the water.
Wooden remnants of the boardwalk as we get closer to building 1.
Wooden remnants of the boardwalk as we get closer to building 1.
Building 1 from the front.
Building 1 from the front.
A handy little sign that reminds would-be and actual trespassers that they're in fact trespassing.
A handy little sign that reminds would-be and actual trespassers that they’re in fact trespassing.
What appears to be a shovel sticking out of the sand.
What appears to be a shovel sticking out of the sand in front of the first building.
Far right side of building 1.
Far right side of building 1.
Far right side of building 1 from shore.
Far right side of building 1 from shore.
Building 1 from the shore.
Building 1 from the shore.
Front of building 1 from the left side.
Front of building 1 from the left side.
Left side of building 1 from the front.
Left side of building 1 from the front.
Left side of building 1 from the water.
Left side of building 1 from the water.
Left side and back boardwalk of building 1 from shore.
Left side and back boardwalk of building 1 from shore.
Back to center of building 1 from shore, front door.
Back to center of building 1 from shore, front door.
Looking back at building 2 (Coast Guard Station) from shore in front of building 1.
Looking back at building 2 (Coast Guard Station) from shore in front of building 1.

Now, before you go assuming the worst of your gracious host, it was at this point that I began to wonder if this building was in fact a fish factory as the map would’ve had me believe.  Given the fact that a boardwalk ran from the confirmed Coast Guard Station out to the mysterious building and the fact that the fish factory seemingly had no business on the water, I had already started to suspect that this building was part of the Coast Guard station and not in fact a former fish factory.

Hopping aboard the boardwalk for a closer look.
Hopping aboard the boardwalk for a closer look.
Looking toward the land at the Coast Guard Station.
Looking toward the land at the Coast Guard Station.

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The boardwalk, extending to the right of building 1, into the ocean.
The boardwalk, extending to the right of building 1, into the ocean.
Looking down at the ocean into a mission section of boardwalk.  Exciting!
Looking down at the ocean into a mission section of boardwalk. Exciting!
Building 1 from the right side, boardwalk.
Building 1 from the right side, boardwalk.
A look inside the front right window of the building.  This was additional confirmation that this building was definitely not a fish factory...at least, not recently.
A look inside the front right window of the building confirms that this was in fact a boathouse.
Looking across the front porch.
Looking across the front porch.
Looking inside the window immediately to one side of the front door.
Looking inside the window immediately to one side of the front door.
Inside the front left window.  At this point, I had figured out that this was minimally a boathouse that was part of the CG operation.  At most, it was, perhaps, a lifesaving station.
Inside the front left window.

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Making our way around the left side of the building toward the back via the boardwalk.
Making our way around the left side of the building toward the back via the boardwalk.
A look inside from the windows on the left side of the building.
A look inside from the windows on the left side of the building.
And this was perhaps the most interesting discovery of all...rails leading from the back of the building and into the bay.  Clearly not a fish factory!
And this was perhaps the most interesting discovery of all…rails leading from the back of the building and into the bay.
Looking at the back of the building: doors that lead toward the ocean on rails.
Looking at the back of the building: doors that lead toward the ocean on rails.

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Rails disappearing into the encroaching water.
Rails disappearing into the encroaching water.
A few more looks inside from the vantage point of the windows on the left side of the building.
A few more looks inside from the vantage point of the windows on the left side of the building.

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Immediately following the section of the adventure, we followed the boardwalk back to land and found ourselves staring at this remarkable piece of history that stands very nearly alone on an all but abandoned spit of land: the Assateague Island Coast Guard Station.

The Coast Guard house on the island just to the south of the boathouse.  This is the northwest side of the house.  The porch in this photo (the larger of two) faces the west.
The Coast Guard house on the island just to the south of the boathouse. This is the northwest side of the house. The porch in this photo (the larger of two) faces the west.
Looking north, back at the boathouse, boardwalk to the right.
Looking north, back at the boathouse, boardwalk to the right.
A look inside the front window from the west porch.
A look inside the front window from the west porch.

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View inside the right west porch window.
View inside the right west porch window.
Looking more and more like quarters to me.
Looking more and more like quarters to me.
West porch, sans screen.
West porch, sans screen.
Looking west.
Looking west.
Down the west porch steps.
Down the west porch steps.
West porch, looking north toward the boardwalk/boathouse.
West porch, looking north toward the boardwalk/boathouse.
The west porch.
The west porch.
The south porch.
The south porch.
South and west porches, looking roughly northeast.
South and west porches, looking roughly northeast.
Looking inside the windows at the south porch.
Looking inside the windows at the south porch.
Second view inside the south porch window.
Second view inside the south porch window.
Looking south from the south porch, one outbuilding surviving to the right.
Looking south from the south porch, one outbuilding surviving to the right.
Looking in the window on the door at the back (north) side of the house at a very 1940's-esque kitchen.
Looking in the window on the door at the back (north) side of the house at a very 1940’s-esque kitchen.

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Looking north at the boathouse/boardwalk.
Looking north at the boathouse/boardwalk.
Looking north at the south porch.
Looking north at the south porch.
Lookout tower, located just southwest of the house.
Lookout tower, located just southwest of the house.
Outbuilding, slightly south of the house.
Outbuilding, slightly south of the house.
Viewing the house from the southeast.
Viewing the house from the southeast.

Links

http://www.uprootedphotographer.com/post/30034314463/abandoned-assateague-island-coast-guard-station
More photos of the boathouse and coast guard station.

http://www.chincoteague.com/AssateagueTrailMap.pdf
Trail map for Chincoteague National Wildlife Preserve.

http://www.piping-plover.org/images/4-97-g_Settlement_on_Assateague_Island.pdf
Source for location of original lifesaving station and reference on Tom’s Hook Fish Factory location.

http://www.stripersonline.com/t/826533/chincoteague-fears-proposal-to-move-beach-would-hurt-tourism-economy
Forum with local lore regarding location/visibility of fish factory.

http://www.fototime.com/ftweb/bin/ft.dll/detailfs?userid=655C590AEC814724816140FDC236FC40&ndx=102&albumid=3935E68AAEB749549B136804B766592B&pictureid=B219475E389C4BE3BF7DC13ACBB019A6
Photos of the actual fish factory.

fish factory ruins
Flickr photo of the fish factory ruins.

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