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Encyclopedia > Martha's Vineyard

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Martha's Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard is an island off the southern coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was home to one of the earliest known deaf communities. Originally inhabited by the Wampanoag[?] Indians, it was known in their language as Noepe, or 'land amid the streams'.

Like the neartby island Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard was brought to prominence in the 19th century by the whaling industry, sending ships around the world to hunt whales for their oil and blubber. The discovery of petroleum in Pennsylvania, producing a cheaper way to fuel lights, led to an almost complete collapse of the industry by 1870. The island struggled financially through the Great Depression, but since then its reputation as a resort for tourists and the wealthy has continued to grow.

It now has a year-round population of about 15,000 people in six towns, but in in summer the population swells to 100,000 residents, with more than 25,000 additional visitors coming and going on ferries every day.

The 1969 accident at Chappaquiddick[?], in which a woman died when a car driven by Sen. Edward Kennedy drove off a bridge, brought the island international notoriety.

Martha's Vineyard once tried to secede from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (they also tried to secede from the Union and become a independent nation) along with the island of Nantucket


(public domain map source) (http://www.aquarius.geomar.de/omc/)



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