Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Step Back in Time

About a year ago Tommy Drake brought by a notebook of Ocracoke photos, newspaper articles, and other documents that he thought I would be interested in seeing. Tommy is a direct descendant of Gary Bragg, prominent island citizen of years gone by.

Among the items in the notebook was an early tourist map of Ocracoke village. I thought our readers would enjoy seeing how different Ocracoke was in the mid-1950s. Click on the photo below to see a larger image.Notice that the present-day NC Hwy 12 is not paved past where the Pirate's Chest Gift Shop is located today.

The British Cemetery Road and Loop Road were not paved either...and the area of the Oyster Creek development was simply marshland. There were only three hotels on the island, and all of the small stores sold groceries and general merchandise for the local trade. Not a single business catered primarily to tourists.

Ocracoke will never be like this again...but the map brings back fond memories of a magical place more than a half century ago.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is "Ode to Mrs. Godfrey," a modern day ghost tale told by guest columnist Tom McDonald. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous6:21 AM

    Notice that the price then was five cents!

    Seeing this today is priceless!

  2. debbie s.7:05 AM

    we have several framed maps of the coast at various points in time, including a satellite image of hwy 12 after isabelle (or... the pieces of 12!)... i wish i had a copy of this map to add to my collection :) very very cool! and i wish i could go back in time, just for a day to experience the island back then! in the mid 50's my mother was just a (small) toddler!!! LOL

  3. Anonymous7:36 AM

    Yes, read my mind....5 cents for a map....5 cents for ANYTHING won't happen again.....To Debbie...."The Story of Ocracoke Island" book has this same charming map featured in the inside back cover. It even has "Tourist Map of Ocracoke, NC" on the page and it's exactly the same map.

    Village Craftsmen sells this book for $12.50. It was published in 1976 and was a 1976 Hyde County Bicentennial Project. It has wonderful vintage photos and those 64 pages are chock-full of information and fascinating O.I. history.

    This Person county, NC mainlander has gathered quite a collection of books through the years about Ocracoke Island. Three of my books are signed, but I treasure each one and have learned incredible amounts of fascinating history through the years from reading my books as well as reading Philip's newsletter and journal.

    Village Craftsmen is now trying to find The Ocracoke Portrait, another wonderful book, for me as I'm writing this blog.

    Just a reminder folks, if you love Ocracoke as much as I do, and I know we are all kindred spirits when it comes to Ocracoke, start yourself a book collection if you haven't already done so. And, don't wait as some books become difficult to find or even out-of-print.

    Let us all keep enjoying and cherishing this "Ocracoke Journey"! Hey, maybe that would be a great title for a future book? Hmmmmmnnnn!

  4. Debbie Leonard7:46 AM

    So does that mean that the land on the north side of the island was filled in to build all of the houses that are now there? Or does it just mean that it was undeveloped land?

  5. NC Mainliner I have Ocracoke Portrait. A great book it was one of the 1st I bought. Do you have "How do you get to the lighthouse"? I love this little book.

  6. Anonymous8:19 AM, I do not have "How Do You Get To The Lighthouse?" must have been written many years ago. I don't believe I've even come across it. Please share more....THANKS!

  7. NC mainliner: This a small 11"x9" 33 page book by Barbara Gainey Spencer. It is a walking tour of the island. Starting at OPS. has some history at each point of interest. I think you would love the sketches, I do. It was published in 1995. It is also a signed book.

  8. Anonymous8:43 AM

    FYI--I got most of these books at Amazon.

  9. Anonymous9:34 AM

    The OPS Museum is a great place for Ocracoke books - along with the retail stores here also of course.

  10. Anonymous10:30 AM

    This mainlander from Person County, NC admits buying various items, including books from Amazon; however, whenever I can, I cheerfully support the wonderful "Mom and Pop" local businesses on Ocracoke Island. In fact, besides Village Craftsmen filling my current outstanding order, I have a beautiful sterling whelk/pearl necklace that Kathleen is sending to me from Ocracoke's Island Artworks. Any books purchased from the OPS also helps fund many worthy museum projects.

    With every order, including books, I've placed with these businesses, I have received exceptional customer service. I have to add that Philip's team @ Village Craftsmen packs pottery so tightly that nothing is ever broken!!!!

    Yes, one may have to pay more for shipping/handling; and, maybe the price is higher, or not; but, I feel anything I can do to help the businesses, even in small purchases, makes me content I've done a little something to help secure the future of those devoted folks who live and work on our charming island.

    I want these businesses to thrive for decades to come so that when I can travel to O.I., I can drop in, give a hearty hello to the shopkeepers, and shop in their unique stores.

    Moreover, it's nothing quite like receiving a package sent all the way from Ocracoke Island!!!!

    Supporting the local Ocracoke businesses is as important to me as patronizing the locally owned businesses in Roxboro/Oxford, NC...or, anywhere else I may shop.

    I figure places like won't miss my business that much, but my business is very much appreciated by those on Ocracoke. That's another reason I keep returning.

  11. I have bought most of mine at OPS and the variety store. I just ordered "The story of OI" from Phillip

  12. I own six copies of “The Story of Ocracoke Island.” The earliest edition I have (I believe it is a first edition) has the village map on the inside back cover; the later editions have the map on the back cover. All of my books have a 1970s version of the map, not the mid-1950s version. I will publish a photo of the map in an upcoming blog. When I do you will see that more of the roads are paved (including NC Hwy 12 all the way to Hatteras Inlet), and there are more stores and hotels on the island. Ocracoke was still not such a popular vacation destination when this book was first published, as you can tell by comparing that map with a present day map.

    Tomorrow I hope to publish a photo of the reverse side of the 1950s map, with information about Ocracoke.

    I also have a copy of Barbara Gainey’s book, “How Do You Get to the Lighthouse?” I will share excerpts from her book in future posts.

  13. Re. the marshland depicted on the 1950s map: that area was dredged and filled in the 1970s by Doward Brugh. Small creeks were deepened by the dredging...and the spoil was pumped up to create buildable land. Today there are quite a few houses there, in what is known as the Oyster Creek area.

  14. Anonymous11:32 AM

    what you have there needs a copy-write, a trademark, something to protect that intellectual property. if that image is silk screened on a colorful bandana ..... reprinted and sold as a map inset of a more current map the possibilities are there to parlay that into a fundraiser should the owner allow license such a project

  15. Anonymous11:55 AM

    FROM ... Anon.8:43- In no way was I plugging Amazon & totally agree with Anon.10:30. I was merely saying they have many used books about OI which are not available otherwise. In fact I just recently ordered a book from Philip by mail. Amazon also carries the same book.

  16. Anonymous12:40 PM

    I'm glad...thanks for the comment!

  17. Anonymous12:46 PM

    Thanks, Philip...I'll look forward to tomorrow's blog. And, thanks for letting us know you have Spencer's "How Do I Get To The Lighthouse?" book in stock.

  18. Village Craftsmen does not have Barbara Spencer's book for sale. It is out of print. I only have one personal copy.

  19. Anonymous2:40 PM

    :( Sad....

  20. Anonymous8:59 PM

    One of our friends, D.S. needs a copy of this to frame and put in the Sound Front Inn - Take Care, Nollie

  21. Anyone who would like a copy of the map may do a "save as..." and then print it.

  22. I appreciate your blog. It was interesting and perfect. Keep on the good work! Thanks

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