Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Mr. Stacy Howard's Cool House/Little Free Library

Ocracoke Island just acquired its first Little Free Library. The Library is installed in the front yard of Village Craftsmen on Howard Street.

This Little Free Library is a re-purposed cool house (sometimes called a milk house or a screen house) originally built by Ocracoke native, Mr. Stacy Howard (1885-1968), in 1925.

Cool houses were used to help preserve food (fish, salt pork, eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables) before the electrification of the island in 1938.

This Cool House was restored recently by Philip Howard, owner of Village Craftsmen. This is a public book exchange. When you are on the island please stop by to visit the library. You are welcome to take a book to read or leave one for someone else to find.

We like to think that Mr. Stacy, who was an avid reader, would be pleased to see his cool house used today to promote reading. 

Here are a few more photos (compliments of Tom Baxter) of us moving the cool house/library to its permanent site:


You can read more about the Cool House, and see more photos here:

Monday, May 13, 2019

Lighthouse Plan, 1892

I thought our readers would enjoy seeing this detailed 1892 plan of the Ocracoke Lighthouse.

Look carefully to see the design of the original spiral wooden stairs that were connected to the inner wall of the light tower. The current metal staircase replaced the wooden stairs in about 1950.

In 1853 the outdated illuminating apparatus was changed to an Incandescent Oil Vapor (I.O.V.) lamp, a fourth order Fresnel lens was installed, the revolving light was changed to a fixed light, and the original bird cage lantern room was replaced with the current prefabricated lantern room.

For a comprehensive history of the Ocracoke Lighthouse click here.


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Friday, May 03, 2019

Ocracoke, Early 20th Century

The following is an excerpt from a 1949 letter published in the North Carolina Historical Review:

"[Ocracoke] island is covered with heavy sand and only jeeps can navigate. Several natives have them and provide taxi service to visitors....

"Between Ocracoke village and Hatteras the terrain is bleak -- the sea on one side, the sound on the other, less than a mile separating them. All along the beach are remnants of wrecks -- one called the 'ghost ship' is still partially intact. Offshore one sees the masts of wreckage extending above the water level at low tide. The heat was terrific -- no trees -- just wild grass here and there. There was a flock of wild horses on a path of grass at the end of the island. We were told that they dig in the sand with their forepaws to expose surface water when they are thirsty. Each home had a rain barrel under the eaves -- their source of drinking water....

"The south point of Ocracoke near Ocracoke Inlet is less desert-like than the country between it and Hatteras Inlet, but there are a number of sand dunes."

Below is a detail from an 1883 Coast Chart of Pamlico Sound. The topography of Ocracoke did not change dramatically until the 1950s when NC12 was constructed and the continuous row of barrier dunes was built between the highway and the ocean. In the image below notice "The Plains," a large area of un-vegetated sand reaching nearly to the lighthouse.


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