Friday, October 26, 2018

Hatteras Inlet

Outer Banks historian and author, David Stick, put together an anthology of selected and edited writings which were published in 1998. His An Outer Banks Reader includes a fascinating section titled "Man versus Nature" in which he shares portions of 1884 letters by Hatteras Island native and pilot, Redding R. Quidley, regarding Hatteras Inlet, which was created by a hurricane on September 7-8, 1846.

Quidley, who lived at Hatteras, was a licensed pilot at Ocracoke Inlet in 1831. He writes that he would pilot vessels across Ocracoke Inlet 2 - 4 times a week...and then to walk (!) home to Hatteras which was then connected to Ocracoke. There was nothing to suggest that a new inlet would form. In fact, he says, several families lived where Hatteras Inlet is today. Live oaks, yaupons, fig & peach trees, and vegetable gardens were growing there.  When Quidlety was writing, 38 years after the inlet formed, Quidley says there was three or four fathoms (18 - 24 feet) of water where homes and gardens once stood. 

Today Hatteras Inlet is a major waterway allowing commercial and sports fishing vessels passage between Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Ocracoke Inlet, which has been continuously open since Europeans first explored this area, and was the primary passage into Pamlico Sound, soon yielded to Hatteras Inlet after the 1846 hurricane. Quidley writes that "there has been very little passing through Ocracoke Inlet since 1855; there is no vessel pass [sic] through there now except perchance, that a vessel goes in case of distress of weather...."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here:

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