Monday, July 24, 2017

Where Civilization is an Echo

On August 12, 1984, the New York Times published an article by Joan Gould about the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was titled "Where Civilization is an Echo."

At that time Ocracoke had a population of 657 people, and fishing trawlers were a common sight in the harbor, especially when the weather turned nasty.

Photo by Megan Spencer
Courtesy Ocracoke Current

Although Ocracoke has changed some in the last third of a century (not as many trawlers are to be seen tied up at local docks nowadays), Ms. Gould presents a rather thorough portrayal of the island.  "History," she observes,  "lingers here like old coins in the back pocket of a suit, forgotten until someone shakes it out and sends it to the cleaners."

Click here to read Joan Gould's article.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a contemporary account of the December 24, 1899 wreck of the Steamship Ariosto. You can read the Newsletter here:


  1. Anonymous8:08 AM

    worn out cold dry low pressure systems meet the moist warm Gulf stream air--that was some 30 years ago.. PH in your opinion, do the same conditions exist today
    with Global warming??? is the area from Block Island to Cape Hatteras still the Cradle of destruction I mean an inclement weather? The lack of trawlers-- is this due to lack of shrimp or restaurants and sea food companies import seafood from other parts of the world or it is farm raised??? The coins of history have moved to some other coat in some other land....

    1. I am sorry. I am not a meteorologist, so I don't know how conditions are the same or different from 30 years ago. I am also not a commercial fisherman, but I would venture to say economics and regulations are the major reasons for fewer trawlers working now than 30 years ago. With that said, there are still working watermen in eastern NC, so we are fortunate to enjoy Pamlico Sound shrimp, not imported shrimp.

  2. I absolutely love the title of the article! I see the other comments and I have an idea of why there are fewer trawlers, now, after talking with several fishermen up the banks, but prefer to not get into that discussion; there's 2 sides to every story and the truth always lives somewhere in the middle. How close the truth is to one side or the other is all a matter of opinion...