Friday, May 15, 2015

What's With These Road Names?

While driving around Ocracoke Village you may have noticed the intersection of Ocean View Road and Old Beach Road.















These two roads are surrounded by houses, cedars,and other thick vegetation. There is certainly no view of the ocean...nor are they on, or even near, the beach. You may wonder, What gives?

The answer to the question lies in the history and geology of Ocracoke Island. Before NC Highway 12 was built in 1957, the area between the village and the National Park Service campground was three miles of barren tidal flats...sand, shells, and hardly a blade of sea grass. During high tides, ocean overwash inundated the flats.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the National Park Service and the State of North Carolina decided to protect the new highway by building a continuous row of artificial dunes between NC12 and the Atlantic Ocean. Over the years vegetation took root on the dunes and the sound-side flats (islanders have always called that area The Plains). First it was just grasses. Then came yaupons and myrtles, and later cedars. Today, even pines and a few oaks are starting to grow there.

Where once the beach extended as far as the Thurston House B&B (my dad said islanders thought Thurston Gaskill was crazy to build his house "on the edge of the beach"), then retreated to where the Variety Store is located, the "bald beach" is now contained by the ocean-side dune ridge.

So, 75 years ago you could see the ocean from Ocean View Road, and Old Beach Road was a sand track that would take you right across the Plains to the surf.

And now you know.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article by island resident, Crystal Canterbury, about her very first visit to Portsmouth Village, on the last day of 2014. You can read Part I here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news042115.htm.

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:40 AM

    Well, if the dunes were artificial, I suppose the fact is artificial material was used to mimic what comprises sand dunes on the island.?? Do sand dunes on OI also become habitat for the vegetation you describe growing in the artificial dunes? Did the feasibility study project the outcome of placing artificial dunes in this location? There was a feasibility study, no, otherwise it begs the question-- was this hardwood habitat intended. Perhaps when a hurricane blows through all this timber will facilitate the complete destruction of what ever is in its way when Mother nature works with the gifts at the hand of man.

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    1. Debbie Leonard9:16 AM

      The dunes are artificial because they are man-made, not natural; they aren't artificial material. If you go to Portsmouth Island you see the beach in its natural state.

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    2. Debbie, thank you for the prompt clarification.

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  2. Anonymous10:35 AM

    My fingers are so tired. I have just returned from experiencing the Google Map street view tour of OI. I was curious as to how often one sees the ocean from the Google Car ride. I didn't spend enough time to see the ocean but I was enchanted with the sky. The clouds and I was able to engage a 360 view and the simple road and no curbs or sidewalks and the bright sunshine it was intoxicating even though m fingers got tired from the constant tap tap on my laptop-- perhaps there is a more efficient way to get on the virtual road. Does anyone have a starting tpoint on a Google map that would have the ocean in view?? Any suggestions out there in the WWW?

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  3. Julie S.7:12 AM

    What about the two Cuttensage or O'Neals, etc? That baffles me.

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    1. Debbie Leonard9:06 AM

      There is only one Cuttensage; the other is Cutting Sage Rd. but it's confusing, especially since they intersect. There is also Cedar Lane, Cedar Rd. and Cedar Dr: Beach Rd. and Old Beach Rd. and there is O'Neal Lane and O'Neal Dr. I think that is it for the same sounding named streets but to me, the crazy thing is that Cutting Sage Rd. changes names four times; to Trent Rd, to Jackson Circle and then to Cedar Lane. And it's the same road!

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    2. There is also Sarah Ellen Lane & Sarah Ellen Drive. But there is only one Howard Street!

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  4. Anonymous9:54 AM

    And so happy Ammunition Dump Road became Sunset Drive.

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  5. Julie s11:49 AM

    Philip any idea WHY there are several streets with the same or very similar names on such a small island?? Thx.

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    1. Julie, the answer has mostly to do with island history (traditional island names for various streets) and family connections. For example, Miss Sarah Ellen Gaskill (she was almost 105 years old when she died in 1984) lived at the end of Sarah Ellen Lane. I am not sure how Sarah Ellen Drive got its name, although there is a family connection between the Tolsons (who live at the end of the drive) and Miss Sarah Ellen Gaskill.

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  6. Bobby Rondthaler1:02 PM

    It seems as if Miss Sarah Ellen Gaskill is the only connection between Sarah Ellen drive in Jackson
    Dunes and Sarah Ellen Lane, Down Point area. But a story I was told a long time ago, puts Susan Barksdale as the connection. Susan owned a house on the dirt lane that Miss Sarah Ellen lived on, Down Point. Many years ago, when land in the Jackson Dunes was very inexpensive, Susan bought several lots there. She named the adjacent street Sarah Ellen Drive in honor of Miss Sarah Ellen. Years afterward, when all of the roads, lanes, circles, drives, ways, and streets on the island were given names and green street signs, the dirt lane was named Sarah Ellen Lane. Miss Sarah Ellen was a native Ocracoker, lived to a great age, and was well-known to everyone.

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    1. Bobby, thank you! I didn't know that Susan Barksdale named Sarah Ellen Drive. Now I do, and now I also know why.

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  7. Anonymous12:18 PM

    I learn a lot about a favorite place from you Mr. H! SueM

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