A recent post elicited yet another comment/question: "You mention the almost-impossible-to-imagine broad tidal flat that extended from the Variety Store to the NPS campground. What caused that geographic feature to disappear from the island?"
First, a photo from 1957. This picture was actually taken at the north end of the island...but it will give you a good idea of what Ocracoke looked like on the Plains, the area between the NPS campground and the Variety Store.
A little history is in order. No one is certain what Ocracoke looked like two hundred years ago, although the area where the village is was different from the "sandy banks." The village, with its live oaks, cedars, and other trees, was probably built on what was at one time a separate "inside island." Whatever vegetation grew on the sandy banks was eventually eliminated by livestock (horses, cows, goats, & sheep) that grazed on the island.
When the Park Service acquired Ocracoke they began construction of man-made dunes on the ocean side. This protected the new paved road from tidal overwash. Today lush vegetation, including myrtles, yaupons, and cedars, covers the Plains, what was at one time a wide tidal flat.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a list of traditional island remedies. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032111.htm.