Smith Island, Maryland

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Smith Island, Maryland
Census-designated place
Harbor at Ewell
Harbor at Ewell
Nickname(s): "The Island"
Somerset County Maryland Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Smith Island Highlighted.svg
Coordinates: 37°58′7″N 76°1′22″W / 37.96861°N 76.02278°W / 37.96861; -76.02278Coordinates: 37°58′7″N 76°1′22″W / 37.96861°N 76.02278°W / 37.96861; -76.02278
Country United States
State Maryland
County Somerset
Area
 • Total 9.2 sq mi (23.8 km2)
 • Land 4.5 sq mi (11.5 km2)
 • Water 4.7 sq mi (12.2 km2)
Elevation 0 ft (0 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 364
 • Density 81.7/sq mi (31.6/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
FIPS code 24-72887
GNIS feature ID 1852600

Smith Island is a census-designated place (CDP) in Somerset County, Maryland, United States. It is included in the Salisbury, Maryland-Delaware Metropolitan Statistical Area. The community is located in the central part of the island also called Smith Island, the northern part of which is the Martin National Wildlife Refuge, and the southern part of which lies in Accomack County, Virginia.

In the last 150 years, Smith Island has lost over 3,300 acres (13 km2) of wetlands due to erosion and post-glacial subsidence into the Chesapeake Bay. To prevent the island from being lost to erosion, restoration efforts will be ongoing for the next 50 years to restore 1,900 acres (8 km2) of submerged aquatic vegetation and 240 acres (1.0 km2) of wetlands.[1]

People traveling to Smith Island can only access it by boat. Passenger-only ferries connect Smith Island at Ewell to Solomons, Maryland, to the west, and Crisfield, Maryland, to the east. One visitor, the author William Least Heat-Moon, described his conversations with islanders in his best-selling book Blue Highways.

Geography[edit]

Smith Island is actually composed of multiple islands. They are predominantly low, salt marsh with an elevation of less than 4 feet (1.2 m) above sea level. There are three communities: Ewell and Rhodes Point, which are connected by a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) single-lane road, and Tylerton, accessible only by boat. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 9.2 square miles (24 km2), of which 4.4 square miles (11 km2) of it is land and 4.7 square miles (12 km2) of it (51.42%) is water.

Demographics[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 364 people, 167 households, and 112 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 81.7 people per square mile (31.6/km²). There were 256 housing units at an average density of 57.5/sq mi (22.2/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 98.08% White, 0.82% African American, 0.27% Native American, and 0.82% from two or more races.

There were 167 households out of which 19.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.5% were married couples living together, 4.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.9% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.69.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 14.6% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 22.3% from 25 to 44, 34.6% from 45 to 64, and 23.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50 years. For every 100 females there were 95.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.8 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $26,324, and the median income for a family was $29,375. Males had a median income of $26,250 versus $28,750 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $23,996. About 14.4% of families and 22.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.9% of those under age 18 and 67.9% of those age 65 or over.

History and language[edit]

An 18 year old male from Smith Island talking to a female interviewer about the erosion of Smith Island. (circa 1984)

British settlers arrived on the island in the 17th century, arriving from Cornwall, Wales,[3] and Dorset via Virginia.[4]

A notable feature of the island is the local dialect which is like the dialects of the West Country of England and the dialect of Cornwall. The dialect contains some relict features indicative of its origins.[5] This dialect is like the Ocracoke Brogue,[6] sometimes referred to as the Outer Banks Brogue.[7][8]

The Island Belle (vessel) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[9]

Smith Island Cake [edit]

Smith Island Cake with fresh strawberries on the side.

Smith Island has its own region-specific traditional cuisine. The most famous dish is a locally produced cake similar to the Prinzregententorte and featuring 8 to 15 thin layers[10] filled with creme, frosting and/or crushed candy bars. The cake is iced with a cooked chocolate icing. Beginning in the 1800s, Smith Islanders would send these cakes with the watermen on the autumn oyster harvest. The bakers began using fudge instead of buttercream frostings, as cakes frosted with fudge lasted much longer than cakes with other frostings.[11] The cake is often made using a commercial cake mix but with unique additions such as condensed milk. It can also be made from scratch using flour.[12] The most common flavor is yellow cake with chocolate icing but other flavors such as coconut, fig, strawberry, lemon, and orange are also common. Known simply as the Smith Island Cake, the dessert is baked for any occasion and not reserved only for holidays.[13] The cake is also baked as the feature prize for a local fundraising tradition called a cake walk which is a game played like musical chairs where donated cakes serve as the prize. Great attention is paid to the perfection of the pencil-thin layers that form the distinctive cake.[14] Before each round, the prize cake at stake is cut in half and shown to the players who pay to participate in the game. A poorly stacked cake may not attract many players and as a result, not raise as much money as a more perfectly executed cake.[15]

On April 24, 2008, Smith Island cake was designated as the official dessert of the state of Maryland.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ US Army Corps of Engineers Smith Island, Maryland Environmental Restoration and Protection Project Accessed October 11, 2007
  2. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Claws and effect". The Daily Telegraph (London). September 13, 2005. 
  4. ^ Scheller, William G. (March 12, 2000). "Island of Calm". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  5. ^ Do You Speak American? by Robert MacNeil, William Cran, Robert McCrum. Page 35 Random House, Inc., 2005 ISBN 0-385-51198-1
  6. ^ The North Carolina Language and Life Project Smith Island, MD. Accessed October 11, 2007
  7. ^ Do You Speak American? by Robert MacNeil, William Cran, Robert McCrum. Page 34 Random House, Inc., 2005 ISBN 0-385-51198-1
  8. ^ Hoi Toide on the Outer Banks by Walt Wolfram, Natalie Schilling-Estes, Page 156, UNC Press, 1997 ISBN 0-8078-4626-0
  9. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  10. ^ Adventure Guide to the Chesapeake Bay by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers, Stillman Rogers page 435 Hunter Publishing, Inc, 2001 ISBN 1-55650-889-1
  11. ^ smithislandcake.com The story behind our Smith Island Cakes. Accessed July 6, 2012.
  12. ^ Crisfield & Smith Island Cultural Alliance, Inc. Smith island Cake
  13. ^ SMITH ISLAND LAYER CAKE from Maryland Traditions
  14. ^ smith island cake history from Original Smith Island Cake Company Website. Accessed October, 3o, 2011.
  15. ^ An Island Out of Time: A Memoir of Smith Island in the Chesapeake by Tom Horton, Page 10 W. W. Norton & Company, 1996 ISBN 0-393-03938-2
  16. ^ Smith Island Cake Now Maryland's Official Dessert from NewsChannel 8 1:38 pm Thu April 24, 2008 - ANNAPOLIS, Md. Accessed online April 26, 2008

External links[edit]