Visitors to the island sometimes ask about our source of drinking water. For most of Ocracoke's history water was collected in cisterns. In earliest times residents used barrels & lidded wooden troughs to collect rain water that ran off the roof. Later, large slatted wooden cylindrical cisterns, held together with steel bands and topped with conical roofs, were employed. Others built brick cisterns with vaulted tops. By the 1950s people were building rectangular concrete block cisterns and giving them double duty as porches.
By 1977 Ocracoke had a municipal water system with a deep well (over 600 feet deep) that taps into the Castle Hayne aquifer (click here to view a map). The sophisticated reverse osmosis treatment facility near the water tank now provides pure water to most island homes. A few residents have chosen to not hook up to city water, or live beyond the range of the present system. Many of these houses have new fiberglass cisterns.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Lou Ann's story of participating in the 2008 Christmas Bird Count on Portsmouth Island. You can read it here.
To read about Philip's new book, Digging up Uncle Evans, History, Ghost Tales, & Stories from Ocracoke Island, please click here.