The fight to save ‘Misty of Chincoteague’ ranch
- Written by Laura Philion
- Category: Local News
- Published: 01 March 2023
A museum on the Eastern Shore is spearheading an effort to preserve the ranch that inspired a beloved children’s book.
The Beebe Ranch on Chincoteague was home to Misty, the horse that inspired Marguerite Henry’s 1947 book of the same name.
Almost 80 years later, the Beebe family still owns 10 acres of the ranch property – but they’re looking to move on.
“I grew up on Beebe Ranch,” Billy Beebe said. “And I actually grew up with Misty.”
Beebe and his wife Bonnie said selling the ranch wasn’t a decision they made lightly.
“Now you have some siblings who are getting older,” said Cindy Faith, executive director of the Museum of Chincoteague Island. “It is time for them to think about how they can better serve the farm, the ranch, and help the town.”
The Beebes said they have been praying that the Museum of Chincoteague Island can raise the money to buy and preserve what’s left of it.
If that doesn’t happen, the Beebes will have to put the ranch on the market – and they don’t want to see the land developed.
“From 45 years ago to now, there's been a lot of activity here,” Bonnie said. “You want the positive growth, but you don't want to lose the history at the same time.”
Misty has been a symbol of the island for as long as the book’s been in print. The annual Pony Swim mentioned in the story still happens every summer. It’s in its 97th year, and draws thousands of people to Chincoteague and Assateague.
The Museum has a month to raise the funds needed to buy the ranch. They’re asking the community to pitch in.
“People love this ranch,” said Faith. “They love the story of Misty. The books meant something to so many people … Can we do enough in this time to make it happen? I'm confident. I think we can.”