The words above (from the song "The Coming of the Roads") were written by Billy Edd Wheeler (b. 1932). The tune was released in 1965 by Judy Collins (on Fifth Album). It is a sad song about loss of love and loss of a deep sense of place. Although the lyrics evoke images of "cool caverns" a "forest of green" and "the wild wood," the song has a more universal appeal. The coming of roads nearly always brings mixed blessings. Rural electrification, economic growth, improvements in health care, and greater educational opportunities...as well as traffic snarls, culture clashes, and environmental problems...often accompany the coming of roads.
The National Park Service's 2005 Technical Report, Ethnohistorical Description of the Eight Villages Adjoining Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Interpretive Themes of History and Heritage, addresses the coming of roads on the Outer Banks: "The development of a paved road linking the villages of Hatteras Island preceded the establishment of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in 1953. The road was built in sections starting with Hatteras to Avon in 1948, Avon to Rodanthe in 1950, and Rodanthe to the Oregon Inlet Ferry in 1952. This road was a significant catalyst for change. For example, its development led to the 1955 consolidation of small village schools into the Cape Hatteras School in Buxton. When the Oregon Inlet Bridge was completed in 1963, Hatteras Island was fully connected to the wider world, and this ushered in an era of tourism and development."
The Navy paved the first road on Ocracoke in 1942. It was a one-lane concrete road connecting the Navy base to a series of ammunition dumps along present-day Cutting Sage Road and Trent Drive. The State paved most of the remaining roads in the village in the early 1950s, and laid down the road to Hatteras Inlet in 1957.
|Photo courtesy Ocracoke Preservation Society
The coming of the roads has brought tremendous changes to Ocracoke, some positive, some problematic. As always, our community continues to address inevitable changes in order to nurture all those qualities that make Ocracoke a unique and vibrant place to live, work, and enjoy life.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Ocracoke Water Tank Caper. This is the link: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news032117.htm.