Friday, October 30, 2009

Portsmouth Island

Six of us with the Ocrafolk School Sampler Class made an excursion to Portsmouth Island yesterday afternoon. It wasn't sunny and bright, but it wasn't raining and cold either. Luckily, it was windy. If you've ever been to Portsmouth Island, you know what I'm saying. As long as I stayed out of the grass and in the wind, there probably were not more than 3 or 4 dozen mosquitoes on me. I kept a myrtle branch swishing around myself the whole time. When the Park Ranger came by to talk to us about island history, I thought fast and told him that I brought the myrtle branch from Ocracoke. He just gave me a knowing smile.

The class concentrated on learning about island architecture and history. Portsmouth has been a ghost town since 1971. We explored several abandoned but preserved NPS buildings including the US Lifesaving Station, US Post Office, schoolhouse, Methodist Church and a number of residences.

The Park Service is in the process of replacing all the historical displays. Among other things, by next Spring the Life Saving Station will include a surfboat reproduction, beach cart, Lyle Gun, and other breeches buoy rescue apparatus.

If you've never been to Portsmouth, consider making a trip over there on your next visit to Ocracoke. It is a unique part of our Outer Banks heritage.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a transcript of a letter written in 1949 by a visitor to the island. You can read the letter (which provides a glimpse into Ocracoke life sixty years ago) here:


  1. Anonymous8:33 AM

    Oh, Philip the pictures are great! I really enjoyed the photo of the crew beaching the boat. Glad to hear and see a good time was had by all.

  2. Anonymous1:36 AM

    Phillip, I really enjoy reading your blog daily. If possible I try to make a trip to the outer banks every year. The last time I was at Portsmouth Island was two years ago and loved it. I was always intrigued that park rangers actually lived there. Since it will be some time till I get back to Portsmouth I was wondering if you could do me a favor? Next time you take a boat over and talk to one of the rangers try to "inspire" him or her to make a blog about life on the island with pictures.