Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Pilot Town

First-time visitors to Ocracoke may notice this road sign near the National Park Service Visitors Center, and wonder what it means:

Island historian, Earl O'Neal (), explained in 1998 that "[s]everal maps between 1826 and 1830 show the Village of Ocracoke with the name Pilot Town. As early as 1743 there was a settlement on Ocracoke called Pilot Town, which was named that because the only settlers were pilots, who were squatters, not owning the land they lived on."

Pilot Town is believed to have been located at Springer's Point. Ship pilots guided vessels safely through the inlet, and into the deeper waters of Pamlico Sound. They were an important factor in the commercial vitality of the colony (and later, state) of North Carolina. 

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a history of Village Craftsmen (1970 - the Present). You can read the Newsletter here:


  1. This was before the census,and while the original owner
    was living on the island, I assume.
    Without ownership of the land they could not build houses, so I’m trying to imagine how they must have lived. Can you enlighten me?

    1. Maybe Earl's term, "squatters," is misleading. The land was set aside by the General Assembly for the use of pilots. They built houses, but did not own the land. I have never learned by what authority the colonial government acquired the land, or when or how it was returned to private ownership.

    2. Thanks for your response.

  2. Anonymous11:19 PM

    This begs the question as to How and When streets were designated-- when was OI plated/ plotted. It seems so much of OI is mere Folklore as if a narrative was voted on and that's our story and we are stickin' to it. Is OI incorporated-- does it have a Mayor or commission, a town archivist? is any thing read here officially documented in the North Carolina state archives?????????????????