Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Marsden Mats

A year and a half ago I published a blog post about WWII landing mats that were used on Ocracoke. Below is a photo I took last month. This twisted piece of rusty metal may not look like much, but it is actually something of an historic artifact.

These Marsden Mats were originally developed by the US military during WWII for use as temporary runways and landing strips. Approximately 2 million tons of this material was produced, at a cost of about $200 million.

After the war these landing mats were laid down on island soft sand to serve as roads. In 1957 a three mile section of landing mats at the north end of the island joined the nearly completed hard surface road (NC12) that, for the first time, connected Ocracoke village to Hatteras Inlet.

This twisted artifact now rests near Loop Shack Hill, one site of the Navy's Ocracoke Island military installation here during WWII.

I will include a few photos of the remains of these buildings in a future post.

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of Infant & Childhood Mortality on Ocracoke. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous3:51 PM

    what exactly took place at loop shack hill?? sounds interesting.

    1. I will post a few photos and a bit of information about Loop Shack Hill in a few days.

  2. Anonymous1:01 AM

    The military no doubt leaves behind trash er historical artifacts in an effort to instill within the local residents pride and appreciation. When a museum is built to house and display these artifacts and the story is told of these brave soldiers and defenders of liberty a tourism site is born to generate and support the local economy.DD

  3. Anonymous5:01 PM

    I hardly doubt that the island residents considered these Marsden Mats trash. Any regular reader of this blog realizes that for centuries the island's remoteness make delivery of supplies difficult and costly. The islanders, in my experience, have been very resourceful with everything that ends up on the island. Even a quick read reveals how they were used after the military left the island.

    I figured DD would be complaining about the dangers of the sharp metal objects left unsecured. Perhaps she will recommend tetanus shots for all island visitors now. Or is she one of those people that fear vaccines, since they supposedly cause side effects such as autism. I can hear it now, "The Marsden Mats were left behind, so that future generations of innocent children would have to be vaccinated with shots purposely tainted by the US government to cause autism in future generations so they could be controlled by the drug czars that future presidents will illegally install in office.

    Either way, I think its clear that DD is a little off her rocker.

    For what its worth, I think the items left behind on the island are pretty cool!

  4. Anonymous11:38 PM

    On the subject of trash left behind on the moon just query that as a search entry.

    1. Anonymous8:12 AM

      I thought everybody says we didn't actually go to the moon?

  5. Anonymous12:54 PM

    Anon 8:12, trust me YOU did not go to the moon.

  6. From about 1957 (age 18 months) until I became an adult, my family would travel to the Outer Banks, frequently to Ocracoke, to camp several times a year. I well remember arriving on the ferry from Hatteras in our old green Plymouth station wagon (1953?). With no dock, everyone would push the car up the beach onto what we called "airplane matting." The drive along the island to the village was made on a single strip, with an occasional extra strip to pull off and let another vehicle pass. We camped where the parking lot now is near the Coast Guard Station. The ponies still roamed in those days and would steal food off our picnic table.

  7. Anonymous12:37 AM

    The mats are still found everywhere. Look around the airport ramp and on the north end.