Friday, February 03, 2012


A couple of days ago I was wandering around Ocracoke and remembered having seen a piece of island history lying in an out-of-the-way corner of land. I walked down a path to the secluded spot and snapped this photo:

I am wondering how many of our readers can identify this scrap of rusted metal. If you think you know what it is, please post your comment (even if someone else has already figured it out). You might even want to share any stories of your encounters with these objects many years ago. I will add my comments sometime next week.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the "Joe Bell" flower. You can read it here:


  1. Is it left over from the Navy and the Great War?

  2. bill kostar7:37 AM

    It looks like the kind of matting that was used for runways or temporary roads in WWII.

  3. Anonymous7:39 AM

    That's my guess as well - roadway from WWII times.

  4. Anonymous7:41 AM

    Ammunition dump road :-)

  5. Anonymous7:54 AM

    Used to have that on the beach access ramps. I cut my foot pretty well on one of those when I was a kid..back in the 70's. Nasty!!

  6. Anonymous8:44 AM

    Another thought in the same vein: a sand-gripping grating/ramp to provide vehicular roadways over otherwise impassable--or likely treacherous--sandy areas.

    And I agree with 7:54a: just the sort of thing to slice open a bare foot. Yikes!

  7. Anonymous8:49 AM

    Michael's reference to "the Great War" sparks a question--or two--wasn't The Great War WWI, not II?

    And to that point, we've heard of WWII (and Civil War) activity on/about Ocracoke. But what of WWI? Or the influeza epidemic of 1918?

    Philip, any insight as to how these global events impacted faraway Ocracoke?

  8. Anonymous8:51 AM



    The Self-Correcting Proofer

    (aka 8:44 and 8:49)

  9. Anonymous9:14 AM

    Got a lot of responses, I agree WWII land/driving material, probably later used for loading beach ferry or for launching boats. Philip, looks like something that needs to be saved for the museum, sandblasted & painted. - Nollie

  10. Anonymous9:22 AM

    My dad works at a cemetery and he has several sheets of metal that look like this (only they're not bent over and less rusty). They uses them to cover up the holes after they've been dug before a funeral service so that no one falls in.

  11. Colleen Crane10:13 AM

    WWII road material. Used to be all over the village and on the ocean ramps.

  12. I'm with the folks that think it was probably used on the sand as a roadway and possibly when offloading onto the beach.

  13. Anonymous12:02 PM

    Cut your foot--should have sued for pain and suffering. Now I see the political commentary in the historical aspect of the piece of garbage littering the island-- if it is indeed grating to allow traction for vehicles to access the beach to drive on the beach-- but for the fact mans intervention was needed to allow access -- access would thus be afforded-- now there is an expectation to drive on the beach-- some protest the need to levy a fee in the purchase of a permit. Certainly, the environmental impact of cars people and trash left on the beach ==== can we not agree that if you can afford a car you can afford tolls and insurance and gasoline --- No one needs to drive on the beach --it is a luxury and well those that demand this opportunity should not complain about the need to raise revenues to pay for the maintenance of ramps and no doubt grading the beach. This isolated beach community has far too few methods to raise money to deal with the throngs in the thongs on the beach --so be it--- consider the permit access to the floor show and SAG card for those that are not looking hot in a bathing suit.

  14. Anonymous12:19 PM

    Landing strip for airplanes landing on the beach...

  15. Bob Touhey12:51 PM

    Its a piece of the old navy road matts that the neavy used to drive around the island in WWII.

  16. Anonymous1:28 PM

    Mats from the navy, used up the beach, late'40s-early 50's, for driving over the deep sand from the ferry, before the road from Hatteras inlet to the village was paved.

  17. Anonymous4:27 PM

    I bet the prize for the right answer is behind door number 2

  18. Anon 8:49 -- Sounds like a short post about Ocracoke and WWI, and another post about Ocracoke and the 1918 Influenza epidemic are things I should work on. If you don't see them in a month or so please remind me!

  19. Anonymous9:57 PM

    The material was called Marston? mat and was used by the military for roads and landing strips during WW2.

  20. Marston Mat I remember as a kid when I lived at Camp Lejeune Used to get over the sand

  21. Anonymous9:32 AM

    trailer ramp

  22. Many thanks to all of our readers who weighed in about the object in the photo. As most of you knew, this is a section of WWII "landing mat." It was originally used on Ocracoke as the last three miles of road leading to the Hatteras Ferry. Later, sections were used on the ramps to the beach, and in various driveways around the village. Look for more about the mat, and about the place where I found it, in my post for Monday, February 6, 2012.

  23. Anonymous10:52 AM

    I can recall traveling the metal road with my family in 1963, The road started at the ferry landing from Hatteras. It seemed to go along way. I remember my father commenting on tho road continuing for miles. It was a very hot that day and the yellow clips that held it together were popping out with a loud "ping" sound. The road was single lane with pulloffs. On visits years later I recall it still being in the beach parking areas. You had to watch your step as it was paper thin and torn. I came across this site during a Google image search for "Ocracoke Steel Road"

    1. You remember well. That's how it was! Thanks for sharing.