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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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:06 PM

    I was down there this past mon, tue, wed....had a great time. didn't have to dig a hole in the ground one time for water....I'll be back next month....can't wait