Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How To Get There

In June of this year I shared images from a mid-1950s Tourist Map of Ocracoke, published by the Ocracoke Civic Association. Tommy Drake, grandson of Capt. Gary Bragg, had saved the map, and loaned it to me. He also showed me a vintage paper with directions for getting to Ocracoke. Four ways "To Get There" are detailed:
  1. Mailboat from Atlantic, N.C.
  2. Mailtruck via ferry from Hatteras, N.C.
  3. Freight boat (weekly) from Washington, N.C.
  4. Charter plane by arrangement, from Beaufort, Buxton, Manteo,m or Washington, N.C.
You may have noticed that driving one's own vehicle from Hatteras is not included. Below is the "Special Note About Driving to Ocracoke in Private Car":

"The State of North Carolina is about to begin construction of a paved road on Ocracoke Island, but this will scarcely be finished in time for the 1956 season. When this road is finished, it will be possible for you to drive your own car via the Hatteras Inlet ferry all the way to Ocracoke. Until then, it is very hazardous to attempt to bring your own car south of Hatteras. Only drivers experienced in sand driving, or with four-wheel-drive vehicles, willing to deflate their tires to 15 pounds or less, should attempt the stretch on Ocracoke Island. There are 11 miles of deep sandy trail, with no road, no markers, and ho inhabitants, between the ferry and Ocracoke Village. If you do attempt it, be sure to get advice in Hatteras from the Ocracoke mail carrier, who drives the route daily, as to the state of the tides, beach, etc."

How well I remember traveling down the beach in our 1948 Plymouth! We came across Hatteras Inlet on Frazier Peele's four-car ferry. My father and the other drivers decided that if anyone got stuck in the sand, the others would not stop to help. The goal was to get at least one vehicle all the way to the village. If any of the others didn't show up the Coast Guard would be notified so they they could take their four-wheel-drive truck to pull them out (hopefully before the tide came in!). Getting to Ocracoke by car before 1957 was quite the adventure!

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoke and the "Lost" Colony. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:53 AM

    And, Philip, we NC mainlanders complain when the paved Highway #12 is blocked w/ some sand and overwash!! Your excellent post reminds me how far conveniences have advanced, even on our dear Ocracoke Island.

    Makes one want to pause and count our blessings now, wouldn't you say?

  2. debbie s.5:32 PM

    Sounds like quite the adventure but in the same breath I will say I am MOST glad for paved roads! ;)

  3. Anonymous5:45 PM

    And the horror of horrors is that in those days there were certainly no...PUBLIC RESTROOMS! (I had to say it before someone else did!)