Thursday, February 08, 2018

A Cold Winter

The bitter cold of this winter brings to mind stories of the severe winter of one hundred years ago. At that time much of Pamlico Sound was frozen solid. Following is a reprint of a blog post I wrote several  years ago.

In 1917-118 Capt. Joe Burrus (he built the building that is now "Oscar's House B & B" on NC 12) was stationed on the screw-pile lighthouse at Bluff Shoal, about seven and one half miles from Ocracoke.  According to old timers the cold lasted so long that for several weeks no supply boats could reach the light station on Bluff Shoal.

Eventually Captain Joe ventured out onto the ice and walked quite a distance.  Whether he was attempting to walk all the way to dry land, or just trying to relieve the boredom, is uncertain.  At any rate he turned back and remained at the lighthouse until the weather broke and food and supplies were finally delivered to him. 

Capt. Joe Burrus

 When the supply boat finally made contact with Captain Joe the seaman reported that the lighthouse keeper had run out of food.  Of much more concern to Captain Burrus, however, was the fact that he had used up his supply of chewing tobacco.  Maybe that's what he was after when he stepped out onto the ice that cold winter day. We’re told he had resorted to chewing boat caulking before the supply boat arrived.

For more stories of the Big Freeze of 1917-1918 follow this link to a superb story in Our State magazine by Bryan Mims:

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about Old Christmas in Rodanthe. You can read it here:  


  1. Anonymous8:17 AM

    Chewing tobacco sounds innocent enough, but the deadly results of a habit for decades is awful. An why is it the PX on bases, as I saw in the early 2000's,
    had on the shelf hard liquor, wine , beer, cigarettes, candy bars and such habit forming Health busting items- it seems such a contradiction to the rigorous physical training of a Boot Camp.

  2. Anonymous8:22 AM

    And what about the Fat Leonard bribery scandal of the 7th Fleet, just saying who do you trust.