Thursday, September 28, 2017

Walking to Hatteras

Hurricane Maria's winds and tides are moving out to sea. Today's post is about another storm, the 1846 hurricane that opened Hatteras and Oregon Inlets.

All of the inlets along the Outer Banks are periodically changing...all but one, that is. Ocracoke Inlet has been continuously open since Europeans began keeping records.

Before 1764 Ocracoke and Hatteras islands were separated by Old Hatteras Inlet, about 8 miles northeast of Ocracoke village (about 2 miles northeast of the pony pen).

Old Hatteras Inlet closed in 1764, thereby joining Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, making it possible to travel by foot or pony cart between the settlements. On September 7, 1846, a violent hurricane opened the present Hatteras Inlet, again separating Ocracoke and Hatteras. This almost doubled the length of Ocracoke, which is today about 16 miles long.

Local island lore reports that in 1846 Caroline Williams Howard walked from Hatteras to Ocracoke "on dry foot." She was carrying her stepson Robert (1845-1878), and is believed to be the last person to walk across what is now Hatteras Inlet.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter highlights several noteworthy staircases in historic island homes. To read the newsletter, and see photos, click here:


  1. In all honesty, to me at least, it seems pretty amazing that Ocracoke Inlet has been opened as far back as we can record... Inlets act more like what you describe for Hatteras inlet; moving, opening, closing, shifting. I wonder if there's a theory about why OI inlet has stayed open as far back as records are kept...?

    1. Robb, look for my answer in our upcoming blog post for Tuesday, October 3, 2017.

    2. Does it have anything to do with the proximity of the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers?

    3. It just might! More info coming on Oct. 3.

  2. Marie from PA8:19 AM

    Thank you for your question, Robb. I was wondering the same thing. Looking forward to the Tuesday blog. Philip, my husband and I have returned for our last vacation week after having to evacuate. Are you and/or Amy still having ghost walks? I had planned to attend last week but Maria changed those plans! Thanks again for your great articles.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.