The Chesapeake Bay is ringed with small, picturesque waterfront towns. Many of these places have capitalized on their scenic location, rich histories and close proximity to major population centers to become thriving destinations. Antique filled B&B's, art galleries, coffee shops, sail and kayak rentals and busy restaurants are just some of the attractions in towns full of second homes and weekend getaways.
Saxis, Virginia is not one of these towns.
The town sits on small, narrow Saxis Island and is surrounded on one side by over 5,500 acres of a relatively pristine marsh, laced with small creeks that forms the Saxis Wildlife Management Area. The other side of the island faces the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland at the entrance to Pocomoke Sound. What counts for high ground on Saxis is really no more than a hummock of less wet land and is barely a few feet above sea level. Since suitable land to build on is in short supply, the lots tend to be small and houses are huddled together along the few roads in town.
Originally known as Sykes Island, the town was settled in the late 1600's, and early resident's livelihoods centered around raising cattle. In the 1800's Saxis became an important source for seafood; fish, crab and especially oysters were plentiful, and the town sent its harvest by steamboat to markets along the Eastern Seaboard. Since the collapse of the oyster industry and with low fish hauls, the 300 people on Saxis today make their living on blue crabs, or by supporting people who do. The harbor is ringed with crab houses where the live crustaceans are sold in their shell or held until they molt providing restaurants with the more lucrative, seasonal delicacy of soft shell crabs. Other than the crab houses there is one small store, a volunteer fire station and the Methodist church. It seems the only other industry in town is raising the foundations of its houses in an effort to stay ahead of storm tides and rising sea levels.
(entire set here)