Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Landing Mats

Marsden Mats were originally developed by the US military during WWII for use as temporary runways and landing strips. Approximately 2 million tons of this material was produced, at a cost of about $200 million.

After the war these landing mats were laid down on Ocracoke Island soft sand to serve as roads. In 1957 a three mile section of landing mats at the north end of the island joined the nearly completed hard surface road (NC12) that, for the first time, connected Ocracoke village to Hatteras Inlet.

The caption that accompanied this photograph in the June 1957 monthly report for the seashore read: “Three miles of steel matting and eleven of black-top paving now make it possible to drive a conventional car from Hatteras Inlet to Ocracoke village.” (NPS photograph by Verde Watson, Superintendent’s Monthly Narrative Report, June 1957, CAHA archives). “Cape Hatteras National Seashore Administrative History,” Aug 2007, page 136.

On March 24, 1959, the Pittsburgh Press ran an article by Gilbert Love describing coming to Ocracoke. Below is an excerpt:

Your “port” on Ocracoke is composed of several clusters of pilings. The ferry lets its ramp down on a piece of mesh landing strip laid across the beach. You drive off onto this – then discover that it’s your road. For three miles, across the low sandy northeastern end of the island, you drive on metal mesh little wider than your car. At frequent intervals another width is laid beside the “road” to make passing possible. Finally you reach higher ground – low dunes with scrub palmettos and evergreen yaupon on them – and the black top road that was completed last year [sic]. In marshes bordering the sea or Pamlico Sound you begin to see some of the wild ponies for which Ocracoke is famous.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is an essay by Philip Howard explaining why he decided to stay on the island as Hurricane Florence approached. You can read it here: https://www.villagecraftsmen.com/why-i-stayed/.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:13 PM

    it's nice to see some remains of this matting material scattered here and there. It's all rusted and barely 'touchable' without crumbling in your hands. It's a reminder of how it was. Another good story Philip. Thanks..A daily reader.