Oregon? Inlet...what does the inlet between the Nags Head peninsula and Hatteras Island have to do with Oregon?
The Territory of Oregon existed from 1848 until it was admitted to the Union and became the state of Oregon in 1859.
Oregon Inlet was opened by a violent hurricane in 1846, two years before the Territory of Oregon was established, and 13 years before Oregon became a state.
According to Roger E. Kammerer, in Recollections of Pitt County, "In [1846*], a number of businessmen in Edgecombe County
purchased a steamer in Baltimore, the Oregon, to run as a passenger and freight
boat between Tarboro and Washington. It was the first vessel to use a new inlet
cut by a hurricane in [1846*], known as Oregon Inlet. The Oregon ran on the
Tar and Roanoke Rivers until it failed early as a financial venture and was
sold at public auction in Washington, North Carolina on October 6, 1849. It was
used later as a freight and excursion boat to Hyde County and Ocracoke. (p. 31)"
*Kammerer writes 1848, but the inlet opened in 1846.
David Stick, in his book The Outer Banks of North Carolina, identifies the vessel as "the side-wheeler Oregon, owned by William H. Willard."
After a brief search of the Internet I discovered that no one seems to know the origin or the word "Oregon," and I was unable to learn why Mr. Willard named his steamship the Oregon.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the
Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032114.htm.