Saturday, September 04, 2004

Ocracoke Peninsula

Happy Labor Day Weekend! The weather is absolutely beautiful today. Temperature is about 79 degrees under sunny skies. But the village is so quiet. If you live close enough, come on out for a terrific holiday. It's a great time to relax and enjoy the peace of Ocracoke.

On another topic, our 3rd question from a reader is:

"I recently went on one of your ghost and history walks (which by the way, was wonderful!) this summer. I have been trying to re-create some of the stories, but I wondered if you could (in a few words, of course) share with your readers your prediction on Ocracoke becoming a cape. Thanks again for all your stories."

And I thank you for your kind words.

According to Alton Ballance in his excellent book, "Ocracokers," East Carolina University geologist Stan Riggs maintains that "Ocracoke Village is an old 'chunk' of island, similar to Roanoke Island, that has existed in its present location longer than the barrier island which migrated up to it."

Ballance explains that "when the beach finally reached what is now the village [in a process of rising sea level that may have begun 17,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age], it [the "sandy banks"] 'bumped into it [the area of the village]' and got 'hung up,' forming basically the present-day shape of Ocracoke."

He goes on to show that "capes have formed as migrating barrier islands bumped into chunks of old islands." He points out that Cape Hatteras is an ancient island "being wrapped by a migrating barrier island," and that "Ocracoke Village, as well, is about to be wrapped by the same process."

All of this speculation is confirmed by Jonathan Price, who, in 1795 published "A Description of Occacock Inlet." He states that "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank. It continues to have its former appearance from the sea; the green trees, that cover it, strikingly distinguishing it from the sandy bank to which it has been joined. Its length is three miles, and its breadth two and one half."

Clearly, Price uses the term Occacock to refer to the area which corresponds to the present day village of Ocracoke (about three miles long by two and a half miles wide). Formerly an "inside island," Ocracoke is now connected to the "sandy banks" and has become a peninsula.

Of course, today we consider the entire length of the island (between Hatteras and Ocracoke Inlets), including the village area, "Ocracoke Island." Eventually, it seems, Ocracoke village will become a shoal after it is left behind as the sandy barrier islands wrap around it and migrate further west, but I don't expect this to happen anytime soon!

I hope this helps, and thanks for asking.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:36 PM

    Thank you for answering my question thorougly. Hopefully you will still be sharing with folks your ghost and history tours next summer.