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Chesapeake Bay's Smith Island has an intriguing heritage dating back more than three centuries. The residents are descendents of late-17th-century English settlers who made a living coaxing creatures from the Chesapeake Bay. They speak with a charmingly distinct accent, echoing the speech patterns of their forebears, among the earliest Europeans to have ventured across the Atlantic.The
tiny island's three villages (Tylerton, Ewell, and Rhodes Point) are fiercely independent, made up of simple homes, churches, and a few stores; and they remain reachable only by boat and fairly remote (cable TV didn't arrive here until 1994). A midday visit by passenger ferry allows ample time for a stroll around the island and a leisurely meal overlooking watermen's shanties and workboats.
Berlin—named not for the German city, but evolving from Burleigh Inn, a Colonial-era way station—is a short drive from Ocean City, yet it could...