The road across from the Ocracoke Library, the one that passes by the side of the Ocracoke Coffee Company, and dead ends at a "T" (left to Oyster Creek, right to Jackson Dunes) is listed on our official island map as "Sunset Drive." Many islanders know it as "Firehouse Road" (although the firehouse was relocated to NC 12 a couple of years ago). Older islanders still call that road "Ammunition Dump Road," and are adamant that it should still go by that name. "The Complete Illustrated Map of Ocracoke" (available at Village Craftsmen and other island businesses) continues to include the designation, "Ammunition Dump Road."
In 1942 the US Navy built a large facility on the island. It was designed to stop U-boat attacks off the North Carolina coast. In addition to construction of the base (near the Coast Guard station) the Navy paved the first road (a one-lane concrete strip) on Ocracoke. A portion of that road ran from the former firehouse (which now houses the school industrial arts program), alongside where the Ocracoke Coffee Co. is situated today, to the "T" at the end. Off the "T" the Navy paved short aprons. It was there that they stored ammunition. The road became known as "Ammunition Dump Road."
Although the word "dump" suggests spent ammunition, this was an area set aside to store live ammunition. A security gate, with gatehouse, was erected several hundred feet before the "T." A security guard was posted there to keep unauthorized people out. At each apron the Navy built wooden sheds where they stored the ammunition. The sheds were nestled against a sandy ridge, and more sand was banked up around them.
|Photo courtesy Ocracoke Preservation Society
After the war the base and ammunition dump areas were abandoned. Cousin Blanche remembers exploring that area with friends. They would climb up the ridge to gain access to the roofs of the ammunition sheds. From that vantage point they could see all the way to the ocean.
Eventually all of the Navy buildings were either dismantled or moved. Eventually, the Ammunition Dump Road was repaved and widened to two lanes.
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a reproduction of a 1960s booklet titled The Great Ocracoke Cat Hunt. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092115.htm.