Wallops Island

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Location of Wallops Island, and NASA facilities
Wallops Island
Wallops Island Research Range launch facilities showing location of support facilities and launch pads.

Wallops Island is a 6 square miles (16 km2) island off the Eastern Shore of Virginia, part of the barrier islands that stretch along the eastern seaboard of the United States of America. It is located in Accomack County, Virginia. The island is just south of Chincoteague Island, a popular tourist destination.

Wallops Island proper, originally known as Kegotank Island, was granted to John Wallop by the Crown on April 29, 1692. Ownership was divided down through the years, until the Commonwealth of Virginia seized the property in 1876 and 1877 in lieu of unpaid taxes. From 1877, ownership was again divided and sub-divided until 1889, when it was held by various trustees for the Wallops Island Club. The Club was incorporated and assumed ownership in 1933 as the Wallops Island Association, Inc. Association members and their families spent the summers fishing and swimming on the island. The Association grazed sheep, cattle, and ponies on the area until the mid-1940s. In 1947, the U.S. Navy began using the upper two-thirds of the island on a lease-rental basis for aviation ordnance testing. N.A.C.A. (The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), forerunner of NASA, leased the lower 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) for rocket launching facilities.

The island is primarily used for NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, including the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, although the name also refers to the peninsula area surrounding the island for the purpose of mailing addresses. The Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuge is located on the island.

The current population of Wallops Island (the peninsular area, not the island itself) is 434.

Coordinates: 37°51′N 75°28′W / 37.850°N 75.467°W / 37.850; -75.467