is a modern place name that pays homage to a historic warrior. Unlike
many other regional Indian names - think Chincoteague, Wachapreague
and Nassawadox - Kiptopeke isn't a moniker handed down over generations.
The Indian word means "big water," and it was first used
in 1949 to refer to a place on the western side of the peninsula,
near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
the Virginia Ferry Corp. moved its terminal out of Cape Charles
in the late '40s, it named the spot in honor of an Indian who befriended
Virginia's first colonists, bestowing the name "Kiptopeke Beach"
on the site of the old ferry terminal.
1992, the name came into greater prominence when officials created
the 590-acre Kiptopeke State Park.
was a real person.
the early 1600s, he was chief of a small tribe on the Eastern Shore
known as the Accohannock tribe. Kiptopeke was the younger brother
of the chief of the larger Accomack Indian tribe. Some historical
accounts refer to the elder brother as Esmy Shichans; others name
him Debedeavon. To the English, he was known as The Laughing King.
John Smith met both brothers while exploring the Chesapeake Bay.
his brother's English name, Kiptopeke was said to be the more charismatic
of the brothers, according to "The Jamestown Colony: A Political,
Social and Cultural History," published in 2007.
the book, authors Frank E. Grizzard and D. Boyd Smith describe Eastern
Shore tribes as relying more on fishing and crop cultivation than
hunting. They note that Smith himself noticed the natives fished
differently than their brethren on the mainland, who used bait and
hooks: Eastern Shore tribes used wood-and-bone javelins to spear
Kiptopeke State Park is a popular fishing spot. It has a boat ramp
and a long pier, as well as nine sunken concrete ships from World
War II that form a breakwater - and artificial reef - about 1,500
feet from shore. Popular catches include speckled trout, rockfish,
perch and spot.
has also become well-known among birders. Birds migrating south
follow the Eastern Shore peninsula as it narrows toward the tip,
and they often stop at Kiptopeke to fuel up before crossing the
birds get an involuntary rest stop: At various times of year, volunteers
snag them in nets, weigh them and band them, then release them to
continue their journeys.
Wiltrout, (757) 446-2629, email@example.com