Friday, October 09, 2015

Ammunition Dump Road

Today's post is third in a series dedicated to explaining the origins of prominent island landmarks.

The road across from the Ocracoke Library, the one that passes by the side of the Ocracoke Coffee Company, and dead ends at a "T" (left to Oyster Creek, right to Jackson Dunes) is listed on our official island map as "Sunset Drive." Many islanders know it as "Firehouse Road" (although the firehouse was relocated to NC 12 a couple of years ago). Older islanders still call that road "Ammunition Dump Road," and are adamant that it should still go by that name. "The Complete Illustrated Map of Ocracoke" (available at Village Craftsmen and other island businesses) continues to include the designation, "Ammunition Dump Road."

In 1942 the US Navy built a large facility on the island. It was designed to stop U-boat attacks off the North Carolina coast. In addition to construction of the base (near the Coast Guard station) the Navy paved the first road (a one-lane concrete strip) on Ocracoke. A portion of that road ran from the former firehouse (which now houses the school industrial arts program), alongside where the Ocracoke Coffee Co. is situated today, to the "T" at the end. Off the "T" the Navy paved short aprons. It was there that they stored ammunition. The road became known as "Ammunition Dump Road."

Although the word "dump" suggests spent ammunition, this was an area set aside to store live ammunition. A security gate, with gatehouse, was erected several hundred feet before the "T." A security guard was posted there to keep unauthorized people out. At each apron the Navy built wooden sheds where they stored the ammunition. The sheds were nestled against a sandy ridge, and more sand was banked up around them.

Photo courtesy Ocracoke Preservation Society












After the war the base and ammunition dump areas were abandoned. Cousin Blanche remembers exploring that area with friends. They would climb up the ridge to gain access to the roofs of the ammunition sheds. From that vantage point they could see all the way to the ocean.

Eventually all of the Navy buildings were either dismantled or moved. Eventually, the Ammunition Dump Road was repaved and widened to two lanes.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a reproduction of a 1960s booklet titled The Great Ocracoke Cat Hunt. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092115.htm.

12 comments:

  1. Debbie Leonard10:40 AM

    Across from my house in Frankie's driveway is a concrete structure that is raised out of the ground a couple of feet; what would that have been?

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    1. I am not sure. I will take a look at it sometime.

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    2. Al Scarborough says, "Debbie, that is where one of the bunkers was located, there is also at least two others still identifiable . A little history..the remains of several bunkers are part of the bulkhead at the Captains Landing hotel."

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    3. Debbie Leonard9:19 AM

      Thanks Philip and Al!

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  2. Anonymous3:09 PM

    Today's post is third in a series dedicated to explaining the origins of prominent island landmarks. I must have missed the other two. Was on the Loop Shack Hill area?....What was the third one? - the Coast Guard Station? I am not trying to be smart I just want to know. Sorry I missed the original blogs on these.

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    1. I am glad you asked.

      The first post was about Ms. Elsie Ballance Garrish (http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2015/08/miss-elsie.html), and the second was about Jackson Dunes (http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/2015/09/jackson-dunes.html).

      Look for more in the coming months.

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  3. Anonymous4:55 PM

    Thank you.

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  4. Anonymous11:57 AM

    Ammunition Dump Road that is the on ly name that I have known it as...I visit 4 times a year - since 1974. This name is historic, colorfull and makes you want to go down it to see what the heck it is. Keep up the blogs they are great even if I don't know half the people you are talking about.

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  5. Anonymous4:21 AM

    It's been years since I've looked for it, but there used to be a block structure on that ridge beside the pub. If you go to 35.107198, -75.967829 on Google Maps, switch to satellite and zoom down, I'm pretty sure those are the remains. I've always been under the impression that it was some kind of guard shack or something because it's pretty small.

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    1. I just got back to the island (have been out sailing with Capt. Rob). Will take a look at the ridge and the map when I have a moment.

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    2. I just took a look at the Google Map. What you found back there are the remnants of the WWII US Navy installation surrounding Loop Shack Hill. I have written about this several times. Follow this link for more information and photos: http://villagecraftsmen.blogspot.com/search?q=loop+shack

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    3. Anonymous11:04 PM

      Thanks Phil! I missed those when you published them. It probably wouldn't be fair to others for me to go into too much detail, but the first time I lived on Ocracoke, a couple of others living in the house would go there to be alone. We didn't really know what it was, just that it had something to do with the navy base. Thanks for the explanation and while I'm at it, thanks for the blog.

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