Friday, October 06, 2017


Five years ago I published a post about these metal "piles" that the Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries pass as they enter Big Foot Slough Channel, just a few miles northwest of the village.

In case you missed that post, these piles are called spuds. They are part of a sunken dredge (the Lehigh) which sank in 1942. Spuds are used to pinion a dredge to the bottom while working. Native islander Benjamin Early Spencer was captain of the Lehigh, and a couple of other Ocracokers were working on the dredge along with about nine other men.

The Lehigh was approaching Ocracoke to dredge the harbor in preparation for bringing vessels to the docks at the WWII naval base. The Navy's mission was to thwart German U-boat activity off shore.

Strong winds produced huge waves that swamped the dredge, and she quickly sank. Navy personnel at the newly established base rescued the captain and crew.

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


  1. Anonymous7:50 AM

    my goodness. Strong winds produced huge waves ---do dredge operators check weather forecasts more closely these days? The map you posted a few days a go would be useful to this reader- if the location where the spuds are can be found on the map. Did the huge waves wash ashore and cause other damage ?

    1. The map I was using a few days ago is simply a boating guide, not a navigation chart. Look for more information about the Lehigh next week.