Friday, May 10, 2013


For many generations Ocracoke Islanders relied on rain water for drinking and cooking. Water was collected in cisterns (rain barrels, wooden troughs, and later, brick, concrete block or fiberglass containers).

Old Cistern on Howard Street

You can still see many old cisterns alongside vintage houses in the village.

And, you can see photos of a number of island cisterns here:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of our island Post Office. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous11:57 AM

    Philip -
    Thanks for taking us back to your journal article of 2010 about cisterns on Ocracoke. You really rang a bell for the old-timers. My father hung a wooden barrel on the wall outside the dining room, ran a pipe through the wall, attached a faucet which poured into a bucket that sat on a stool, and that was our drinking water.

    Bobby Rondthaler

  2. Anonymous1:42 PM

    Dad remembered that Grandpa (Theodore Rondthaler), sitting at the end of the dining room table, turned and filled a glass and put it back on the table with the comment "Now THAT's an improvement."

    John Woodwell

  3. Anonymous6:21 PM

    yes they are covered however once the water is "tapped" is there any treatment? a drop of chlorine perhaps something to kill the 'wiggles" I know I drank "spring" water from a creek (foolishly in retrospect) as I developed a nauseating headache later in the day and I did not associate it with the milkshake I drank from a local ice cream stand. It was an awful nauseating headache I repeat. oh it was a ranger led hike though a state park I might add. be ware bring bottled H2O on hikes

  4. Debbie Leonard6:42 PM

    That was very interesting.

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