Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Before WWII Silver Lake Harbor was a shallow tidal creek. Islanders still use the traditional name, Cockle Creek (or just "the Creek"), to refer to the harbor. Although it was shallow (only 3-4 feet deep) it was as wide as it is today. Then, as now, the harbor was connected with the sound at the "Ditch" (the narrow inlet adjacent to the old Coast Guard Station).

Two narrow streams (or "guts" as islanders called them) flowed from the Creek toward the bald beach. These streams (the big gut, and the little gut) effectively divided Ocracoke village into two main sections (Down Point, the area that included the lighthouse; and Around Creek, the area that included the present-day Methodist Church). A friendly rivalry developed between creekers and pointers that continues to this day.

Eventually simple foot bridges were built across the guts in several places. Blanche has told me often that the bridges were shackly (shaky or rickety). I know this word is sometimes used elsewhere, but it is not common, and I suspect that Ocracoke is one of the few communities where it still survives.

Bridge over one of the guts:

(Click on photo to view larger image.)

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is "Remembering Growing up on Ocracoke" by Lawton Howard. You can read it here.


  1. Anonymous5:38 PM

    This Blanche seems like the perfect person for someone to record her stories about back when --perhaps an MP3 file could be generated due to the generosity of the local radio station -- they could provide the recording facilities and people could come down to the studio to record their stories and it could be housed in the Historical society gee I know my museum at a University in town has Miccosukee indians talking miccosukee and English It is all about diversity perhaps someone could write a grant to the National endowment for the arts Hope this helps

  2. A number of recordings of older islanders have been made. I personally interviewed Blanche and Bertha O'Neal, and Clayton Gaskill recorded it. Several other old-timers have also been recorded. Unfortunately, some folks declined to be videoed, and some have died before we could record them. The DVDs are available at the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum.

    Walt Wolfram has also made professional quality videos of a number of native islanders in conjunction with his Language and Life Project which documents the distinctive Ocracoke brogue.