Print out the map before you go. This is what I missed:
Behind the Post Office is
(4 ) The first post office where mail was tossed from the mailboat right onto the dock. Turn L on
(5) Howard St, a sandy lane. Before the highway all Ocracoke looked like this. Peaceful shade, older homes, family cemeteries.
(6) The United Methodist Church is on the L at School Rd; Islander James B. Gaskill's CARIBSEA was torpedoed east of Cape Lookout in 1942. His family learned of his death when the CARIBSEA nameplate and Gaskill's engineering license washed ashore on Ocracoke. The altar cross of this church was carved from salvage wood of the CARIBSEA. NC's smallest school, with grades K-12, is beyond the church. Take the path L of the school and follow the narrow boardwalk to the Back Rd. Turn R and walk past the schoolyard to the
(8) Fire Hall. Built in 1966, it is run entirely by donations and volunteers. The library behind the Fire Hall contains 3,000 books. As the Back Rd curves toward NC Hwy. 12,
(9) Blackbeard's Lodge is on the R. Built in 1930, it served as a theater and skating rink before becoming an inn. R at NC Hwy. 12 and walk to Lighthouse Rd. (Watch for traffic and cross the highway.) The
(10) Island Inn, with its white, three-tiered porch, is on the L. Built in 1901, it has served as a meeting lodge, residence, naval officer's quarters, and is now a private inn.
----- (lighthouse #11)
(12) Albert Styron's Store, built in 1920 and recently refurbished. Turn L onto Corkey's Rd. On your L 1/8 mile, you will pass what was once
(13) Corkey's, another old store where locals gathered for dances. Sam Jones' unique architectural style is seen again in "Whittler's Cottage" on the waterfront Turn R and go 30 yds to the
(14) "Castle". This rambling structure with its green roof, many gables, and cedar-shake siding was built by Sam Jones and was the first Ocracoke high-rise. Jones built the Castle for his vacationing employees. The Castle and Berkley Center are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The beaches of Ocracoke Island have been named #10 on the 1999 list compiled by Stephen Leatherman, a Florida International University coastal geologist who rates beaches nationwide.
The National Park Service has preserved over 5,000 acres on the Island, including 16 miles of beach in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Foot traffic across the dunes is discouraged because it tends to kill the vegetation holding onto the sand. Although the beach and sound can be accessed by foot, there are also designated four-wheeled drive ramps to reach them. Closed sections are well marked.
The only lifeguarded beach on Ocracoke is located just north of the airstrip and Ramp 70. Lifeguards are on duty from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm from May 31st to September 6th dependent on weather conditions. Swimming is only recommended at the lifeguard beach, as rip currents and strong surf conditions are common here.
For your safety, DO NOT SWIM ALONE. Swimming in the ocean is not the same as swimming in a pool. Tides and rip currents make ocean swimming hazardous!
Underwater sandbars develop offshore, forming a trough of water between the bar and the beach. When the sand bar breaks, the trapped water funnels out to sea through the break - sometimes sweeping swimmers with it. The important thing to remember when caught in a rip current is DO NOT TRY TO SWIM AGAINST THE CURRENT. Instead, swim across the current, parallel to the shore, slowly working your way back to the beach at an angle. Above all, remain calm. Check at a visitor center for more swimming safety information
The first ferries to the island were two wooden skiffs tied together
The State of North Carolina operates two ferries to the island. One is the free ferry from Hatteras which takes you to the north end of the island. No reservations are accepted.
From the south end of the island you can take toll ferries to Swans Quarter and to NC Highway 12 on Cedar Island. These ferry docks are next to the old U.S. Coast Guard Station.
For security reasons, all NCDOT ferry passengers and vehicles are subject to voluntary screenings and photo I.D. checks. Anyone not agreeing to the screenings or I.D. check will not be permitted on the ferries. The ferries also are no longer permitted to carry unaccompanied baggage or unattended vehicles.
# Reservations are only offered (and are necessary especially in season) on the Cedar Island – Ocracoke and Swan Quarter – Ocracoke Routes.
# You must claim your reservation at least 30 minutes prior to departure. Failure to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure will mean that your reservation will be cancelled.
# Reservations may be made up to one year in advance of date of departure.
# Reservations cannot be made via E-mail or online. Reservations must be made by calling the ferry terminal from which you would like to depart. See the Transportation tips for the schedule and phone numbers.
The 1938 compound of the U.S.Coast Guard now belongs to the State of North Carolina and they have plans to use it for teacher education among other uses. The signs say:
East Carolina University
__Future Site of the___
ECU Maritime Studies
Future Site of
The North Carolina Center
For the Advancement of
* Ocracocke Campus*
Ocracoke has had up to a 300 wild ponies (Bankers) roaming the island. Among the stories about their origin a Brief History of Ocracoke says:
"One story credits Spanish explorers De Soto or Cortz as having brought them as they searched for gold on their way to Mississippi and Mexico. Another story suggests that the ship "Black Squall" was carrying a circus troup and animals when it went through the area during a storm. All circus workers and all but two horses survived. Historians say the most probable story is that the ponies arrived with Sir Walter Raleigh and were left on Roanoke Island at the time of the mysterious Lost Colony disappearance."
Until 1915, the U.S. Life-saving Service used horses for beach patrols and to haul equipment to shipwreck sites. The CG used a small band of Banker ponies to patrol the beaches during World War II. In the 1950's, islanders held annual July 4th pony "pennings" like the similar ones in Virginia. Horses and colts were rounded up and driven into the village to be corralled, branded and some sold.
When Cape Hatteras National Seashore was established in 1953 there were only 12 ponies left on Ocracoke.
In the late 1950's, Ocracoke Boy Scouts cared for the horses and had the only mounted troop in the nation. After NC Highway 12 was built on the island in 1957, a pen for the ponies was established on a range about 7 miles north of the village to prevent over-grazing and to safeguard them from traffic
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore site says:
If you would like to help us protect the ponies, consider participating in the Adopt A Pony Program. Your $27 donation is used exclusively to help defray the costs of veterinary care, feed and hay..
To adopt a pony, send a $27 check or money order made out to the National Park Service to: Ocracoke Ranger Station, P.O. Box 340, Ocracoke, NC 27960. OR stop at the Ocracoke Visitor Center and adopt a pony in person.
I only got to see this from the outside, because it was too late in the season for it to be open. The pictures was taken from the car and you can see the Ocracoke water tower behind it.
The museum is in the David Williams house. In 1989, the house was moved to its present location on National Park Service property to prevent its demolition and has been restored by the Ocracoke Preservation Society. It opened its doors to the public in 1990.
The house dates back to 1900. Williams was the first captain of the Coast Guard Life-Saving Station of Ocracoke. It is the #2 location on the walking tour.
The house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The ground floor rooms have been converted to the museum which contains photos and artifacts of island lifestyles and history.. The second floor contains a research library and administrative offices.
In midsummer, there are talks about local historic subjects on the back porch
Located in the fishing village of Ocracoke on one of the highest spots on the island of Ocracoke, this is the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina and is equipped with a fourth-order Fresnel lens.
The first Ocracoke lighthouse, a 54-foot wooden tower was built on the Ocracoke Inlet entrance in 1798. This was where Edward Teach, otherwise known as "Blackbeard the Pirate," lived at one time. The channel shifted, rendering the lighthouse ineffective, and it was destroyed by lightening in 1818.
It was replaced by a light vessel in the inlet in 1820, but by 1822 shifting sands made this useless, and Congress authorized the money to build the present tower which stands only 75 feet tall. Becaise it is the shortest lighthouse on the North Carolina Coast it can be only be seen for 14 miles.
The lantern room is a bit off-center and one side of the tower is steeper than the other though architectural plans show all details in line. The lighthouse was cemented and whitewashed in 1868, giving it the appearance it has today. Originally fueled by whale oil, it is now lit by automatic electric power. It is still an active lighthouse, and is not open to the public.
It has survived numerous hurricanes including the Hurricane of 1944. This hurricane flooded the entire island - some homes had 25-30 inches in them. Water lapped against the doorstep of the lighthouse and was seven inches deep in the keeper's house.
Across from the state campgrounds on NC 12, you can find a series of nature trails that take you through the woods on the soundside of the Island on a tour of all of the plant and animal life there is to be seen. Be warned, it is not uncommon to get a bug that tries to fly in your ear but nevertheless if you like nature (and can forgive it for trying to fly in your ear) try this path out. There are little plaques every couple of feet that explain the unique ecosystem on the island and the reasons that certain plants and animals have made it their home. On the soundside you can see the marshlands from this boardwalk.
As we made our way back to the pier to catch the ferry back to Hatteras we stopped to look at the beaches once more. And once again we found beautiful secluded beaches near the pier. It was a long drive from our house in Corolla to Okracoke. It took us over 3 hours to drive the distance. But the views and the beauty of the four lighthouses made the trip worth the effort.
The lighthouse itself is probably the least impressive of the four major lighthouses on the Outer Banks. However we wanted to see all four lighthouses and it was the trip for this reason alone. The street to the lighthouse is not marked very well and we had a little bit of difficulty finding the actual location. We kept seeing the lighthouse but were unable to find a street to reach the location. When we finally reached the lighthouse we found there were only four or five parking places for cars at the lighthouse. People were stopping along the road to wait for a parking place. It did not take long though. There is not a lot to see at the lighthouse. It is not open for climbing or anything. You can take a brief walk from the car to the lighthouse for pictures and then return to allow someone else to use the parking place.
We landed. This is the welcome sign we saw when leaving the ferry boarding area. There is one road leading to the small village of Ocrakoke from this landing. We assumed we would be at Ocracoke when we landed. But the actual village is a long drive to the other end of the island.
It is almost impossible to see the other banks of Ocrakoke when you leave Hatteras Island. The journey leaves Hatteras and starts out into the sound. The ferry eventually takes a slight curve between the buoys and heads in a southeastern sort of direction and you then begin to see where you are headed. Its a beautiful ride. Get out of your car and stand near the front of the ferry to enjoy all of the views.
Ocrakoke was the most remote place we visited on the Outer Banks. There are no roads or bridges to the island of Okrakoke. You must take a ferry to reach the island. There are several ferry's. We took the one from Hatteras Island. Most of the ferry's on the Outer Banks are free. There is no charge to use the state run ferry from Hattarera to Ocrakoke.
Drive to the end of route 12 into the litlle village around Silver Lake Harbor. This great little fishing village is so cool, it's like stepping back in time. Filled with many small shops of all types like local artist and seafood restaurants and plenty of gift shops.
I just love taking pictures of the dunes in the Outer Banks, Ocracoke is no exception! All the dunes are protected by the National Park Services, so take care were you step. This shot is at the north end of Ocracoke Island looking toward the south end of Hatteras Island.