Sunday, March 10, 2013

NC 12: A Navagational Nightmare

          Anyone who lives along the Outer Banks of North Carolina or follows news stories concerning the are via Facebook or Twitter knows of the recent travel difficulties plaguing a vast stretch of NC 12. NC 12, the road which stretches the banks from Corolla down through the island of Ocracoke, has seen great problems from ocean overwash in the last week or so, particularly around the town of Rodanthe. Many residents along this area of the banks can only scratch their heads and ponder the question, is there a permanent solution to this seemingly omnipresent threat? The reasoning behind the answer to that question is complex yet the answer itself is quite simple, no.
        Since the Outer Banks of North Carolina have existed, the overwashing of the barrier island by the ocean has been occurring. In fact, the ocean breaching the dunes and overwashing part of the island is somewhat beneficial to the widening of a barrier island system. The ocean overtaking the island does not become a problem until it affects humans, plain and simple. Given that it has, it has become a major source of headaches for those living on the banks. It almost seems as if overwash on NC 12 is something that can be counted on at least a two or three times a year, and as dependable as the sun rising in the east. The first significant overwash event of 2013 came just about a week ago, thanks to a deep coastal low that brewed off of the Carolina coast, bringing major flooding to NC 12 and major snow to parts of the Northeast. The mighty Atlanitc covered NC 12 with with water a foot deep in some parts, leaving residents and vactioners stranded. This nuisance however, is something that has grown common along this stretch of NC 12, particularly in recent years. The public, it seems, has finally become fed up with this problem and has organized a series of meetings with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, to discuss the possibility of permanent solutions to overwash events.
         The first idea one must accept before approaching any means of deterring the ocean is that no "solution" will be permanent, case and point. Proposals for new dunes, as mentioned in the recent environmental assesment released by NCDOT (
would be subject to the same fate as those made by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the early 20th century. The second realization one must come to is the the ocean is rising and the Outer Banks are migrating, as many barrier island systems do to maintain island height, width, and existance. Houses built two or three decades ago that were once 50 yards from the surf zone are now submerged in it, serving as a witness to the power of the ever-changing Atlantic Ocean. The third concept that needs to be observed is that throughout and after this process, not everyone will be happy. Conservationists will cry foul when essential wetlands are destroyed in order to accomodate construction and locals who depend on NC 12 will do likewise if nothing is done to protect their source of livlihood.
        So, acknowledging the fact that not everyone will be happy, what can be done to preserve the pristinity of the banks while still ensuring a route of transportation for those who call the banks their home? This question is quite complex and I am unsure as to whether or not it has a clear cut answer. Building new dunes will be prolonging the inevitable, and is the last thing many locals would want to hear. Building a bridge on the sound side of the road would be a tremendous expense and it is easy to forsee many environmental impacts associated with it. For now, I suggest a period of dune stabilization projects, holding the sea back until suggestions are evaluated. Perhaps in the future, stretches of NC 12 would be abandoned until the island itself recovers and widens, allowing the construction of a new road. Whatever the outcome is, I am sure of two things. One, someone will not like it. And two, it will only be a temporary solution to an ever-present problem.


Interesting Links-!/NCDOT?fref=ts

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Promontorium Tremendum

     The title of this post, is an early name for a very well-known place on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, however most people wouldn't have a clue as to what it means or represents. Promontorium Tremendum, or dreadful promontory, was the name for Cape Lookout on many early maps depicting the North Carolina Coast (Schoenbaum, pg. 189). Being that a promontory is a mass of land adjacent to a body of water, it is easy to see why Cape Lookout was a dreadful one for 16th and 17th century mariners. Cape Lookout, which lies approximately 70 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras has an interesting history unknown to many, and is often over-shadowed by the more popular cape to the north (Cape Hatteras). With any luck, I will attempt to shed light onto the fascinating history and modern day topics that surround Cape Lookout, and what life has in store for it years into the future.
      The dreadful promontory that is Cape Lookout first appeared on maps of the new world of America in 1585, when naturalist John White sailed the surrounding shores and created one of the first maps accurately detailing the Outer Banks of North Carolina. (Stick, pg. 308). Before the arrival of the white man, the lands adjacent to Cape Lookout, mainly Core Banks, were inhabited by the Coree Indians, who hunted and fished on the banks near the cape, although they mainly resided further inland, in a village named Cwareuuoc, several miles behind Core Banks. After the visit from John White in the 16th century, Cape Lookout remained largely distant from the focus of history on the Outer Banks, being used mainly be Spanish privateers, taking shelter in the cove accessible by what is now called Barden Inlet. The cove used by the Spanish however, was so desirable that it warranted a visit from the Governor at the time, Arthur Dobbs, who stated the cove was "the best, altho small of any harbour from Boston to Georgia" and even tried to get the Governors mansion built on the Cape. (Stick, pg.309). Of the bankers who did live in the area, many were engaged in sustenance living, typically relying on the ocean and sounds for food, shelter and survival. Many people, are surprised to find out that in the late 18th and early 19th century, whaling was a huge industry around Cape Lookout, generating a much more substantial income than the odd jobs many previously worked. The first major event to happen on the cape occured in March of 1804, when congress aprroved the construction of the first lighthouse on Cape Lookout, which was finished sometime around 1812. The modern day lighthouse that visitors see today is actually the second lighthouse to occupy the area, as the first one was decidedly too short, and did little good for weary mariners. During the War between the States, Cape Lookout was laregly unused, although the lighthouse did sustain some damage after a raid from Confederate troops (Stick, pgs. 309-310).
        In the time following the Civil War, the Cape Lookout area (specifically Shackleford Banks) was home to one of the largest populations on the Outer Banks. Diamond City, located on Shackleford Banks. The community, named after the diamond patter of the lighthouse, grew steadily in the late 1800's, eventually boasting a population of over 500 people. Despite the haven in which they lived, the residents eventually evacuated thanks to Ma Nature. A series of devestating hurricanes, including the infamous 1899 hurricane, or San Ciriaco Hurricane, which ravished the banks, forcing the bankers to the "promised land" section of Morehead city and to the more tranquil lands of Harkers Island as well. Thanks to an act of congress some 87 years after the hurricane, the Cape Lookout National Seashore was established, forever preserving the 56 miles from Portsmouth Village to Shackleford Banks.
      Today, the Cape Lookout Seashore remains much as it did when White first laid eyes on it in the late 16th century. The unspoiled beaches, dunes and ecosystems are truly a testimony to the power and processes of nature. In fact, Cape Lookout is one of the healthiest beaches in North Carolina, largely thanks to the fact that it was spared from the overdevelopment the plaugued and still plaiges much of the Outer Banks and surrounding Carteret County. Rather than serve as a mobile home park or seaside mecca, Cape Lookout and its seashore serves to bring visitors back  to the days of long ago, when beaches and nature were untouched by man. As for the future of the state, it will remain forever changing, and through that, forever static. Barrier islands are always moving, always adapting to the natural forces that affect them. Islands migrate, rise, accrete and erode on a very short term basis. However, Cape Lookout will be able to carry out these processes at its leisure, as it has all of eternity at its disposal. As I look into the future, I would like to see the Seashore continue to serve as a mecca for the natural world, adventure and edcucation. I would like to see the lighthouse refurbished, so anyone can see the view that awaits at the top. I would like to see historic Portsmouth Villiage restored to the time of its hayday, so visitors can feel the spirit of communtiy which was once as abundant as the water that surrounded them. I would Cape Lookout and the Seashore to keep being everything that arracted me to it in several years ago. With the help of smart, evironmentally literate politicians, an active community and an egaging public, this is a goal which could very easily be accomplished.


Sources used-
Islands, Capes, and Sounds- The North Carolina Coast. 1982. Thomas J. Schoenbaum. Page 189.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina. 1958. David Stick. Pages 308-311.

Link to a great documentary concerning Cape Lookout National Seashore-

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Old Quawk's Day

     As the calendar draws nearer and nearer to spring, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss a not so well known tradition on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (more so the Southern Outer Banks). The day, almost exactly one month away, March 16th, is known locally as "Old Quawk's Day". The dubious holiday also symbolizes the equality of the sun and moon, as the vernal equinox draws near, in which the sun completes its journey back to the equator, only to make its way 23 and a half more degrees north over the course of the next three months. On this day, daylight and darkness vie equally for attention among us Earth dwellers, resulting in twelve hours of daylight, and twelve hours of darkness. What most people don't know however, its that March 16th, snuggled between the Ides of March and the Equinox, represents a day in which one should remain at home, thanks to the legend of the Old Quawk.
       I first came across the legend of Old Quawk in Bob Simpson's When the Water Smokes: Tides and Seasons on a Wooden Boat, a book I highly recommend for anyone interested in the Crystal Coast/Carteret County or anyone with a hankering for the slow pace of yesteryear. According to Simpson, Old Quawk was a described as a "South American Indian" who ashed ashore during a storm in the 1880's. Local legend has it that Old Quawk as he would come to be known (for his voice that "the bankers could compare only to the voice of the black-crowned night heron" pg. 24), was somewhat of a wild card, yet over time, earned through hard work, the respect of the hardy banks people. As many who have spent a winter on the Outer Banks know, early March can be a volatile  time, and this was no exception during the years of Old Quawk. Any sensible coastal folk, Simpson notes, know to stay away from the waters and the outdoors in general during this period, and essentially let nature take her course. However, Old Quawk, undaunted by the impending harsh weather, decided to venture out into the elements, in stern disagreement with local lore and the local people. The people of the banks urged him not to go, yet Old Quawk did not yield their warnings. The Old Quawk ventured out into the teeth of the storm and was never heard from again.
       If there is one thing to draw from the story of Old Quawk, it is to always respect mother nature. Especially on the Outer Banks and surrounding islands and coastal plain, spring can be (and most often is) a time of great change in the area. The return of March symbolizes the return of the strong Carolina sun, which will remain prominent until the late days of October. The leap from winter to spring also signifies the revitalization or rebirth of life along the banks, and once again the area comes alive. Despite the warmth and sunshine that can kiss the banks in the spring, one must remember that it can also be a time of harsh weather, something Old Quawk found out the hard way. After a little further research, I sadly discovered that the prominence of Old Quawk has since disappeared, and isn't known by many bankers anymore. Whatever the case may be, I would not be surprised if the weather on March 16th around the central banks wasn't seventy and sunny.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Down East- Where Time Stands Still

       Since I started this blog a mere month ago I have been wanting to write about one of the most interesting places in coastal North Carolina. What originally inspired this post is my overall fascination with the area, where time seemingly comes to a halt, and life continues to proceed at a speed much slower than the surrounding 21st century world. Throughout the communities that makeup Down East, the way of life remains nearly unchanged from what it was a half century ago or more. Many still work the surrounding waters for a living, relying much on the natural resources that surround them to provide them with livelihood. In essence, Down East North Carolina is the ultimate sustenance community, working together with what surrounds them to survive.
      So, given the above passage about Down East, the next logical step is to tell you where on Earth it is. According to some, the term Down East refers to anything in North Carolina that lies East of I-95. This broad geographic region however, is hardly what many people  familiar with coastal North Carolina call Down East. To many locals, Down East is a vernacular term for what is generally thought to be the small communities Northeast of Beaufort such as Harkers Island, Stacy, Atlantic, Sea Level and many more towns that just barely make the map.

Down East NC, shown as the portion Northeast of Bogue Banks, highlighted in blue.
However, for what the area lacks in size, it more than makes up for in personality. To fully express the character of the region and its people, I call on the Carteret County nature writer Bob Simpson and his description of what and where Down East is and who Downeasters are from his book When the Water Smokes: Tides and Seasons on a Wooden Boat. This description, I believe, is one of the few descriptions of Down East (of which there are a surprising amount) which pays the area justice. It is as follows:
             "We found Down East to be the section of North Carolina Down East of Beaufort, where folks still live in harmony with the sea. To be precise, a Downeaster is best defined as one who prefers salt fish (notably spots) for breakfast. But mostly it is a state of mind, where the people like wooden boats and build them in back yards beneath big live oak trees. It is where women are sensible enough to wear calico sunbonnets while out hoeing collards in a garden fenced with fishnet. It is where men still gather in the lee of an old shed, wearing rubber boots, to tell yarns as long as your  arm and drink what they still call sodas. Down East is where you can see a black hunting dog dozing amid old decoys stacked carelessly beside a nethouse.
        Down East Carolina is where rust-streaked skiffs rock easily, tethered to stakes in the shallows, while a soft wind ripples the sounds into hills and valleys of blues and greens and beyond is the yellow glare of sand and salt haze and sun. It is where gulls nosily follow trawlers and long haulers, their decks piled high with jumbles of nets. Its where the sharp scents of salt and marsh linger in the light, damp air. It is great stacks of crab pots and fish boxes lining the docks and kids pedaling their bicycles on sandy roads. Its men going barefoot all summer, tough-footed on shelly shores and grassy lawns, men who don't seem to mind getting up while the stars are bright to set a net or pick up a line of crab pots whose floats dot off across the sound to where horizon blends with rising sun.
       Down East? Why, that's where the folks still walk along the roads at night to visit with friends sitting on porches, and gather every Sunday in church to sing together and pray together. Downeasters are the hard-working people who make up the backbone of the land, independent, strong, and proud, the salt of the earth. So whenever you visit the region located somewhere east of Beaufort, where you can watch the sun rise boldly from the sea, feel the sand between your toes, and inhale the pungence of fish and brine, of marsh and pine, you may, by watching closely, find a land of dreams that is no fantasy land, but Down East" (Pgs. 80-81).
       Simpson's description of the area is unparalleled by any I have come across. He writes with what seems to be a true passion and admiration for the area, and it certainly is conveyed through his writing. Despite the hectic world that surrounds Down East, the towns that make up the region have always managed to hold true to their roots, not letting the outside world greatly impact them, for better or for worse. Being resistant to great change and influence from the modern world means that Down East is still a very isolated region, with no large supermarkets, stores, or many of the conveniences of modern life which us city dwellers have grown to see as the norm. Despite its perceived shortcomings, there is a mystique which surrounds the area, one that allows visitors to see the external Down East but only by living there can one discover the true Down East culture. What attracts me to Down East? Perhaps it is the simplicity of the names such as Sea Level or Atlantic, or the simplicity of lifestyle, which coming from a city I have always yearned to explore. Perhaps it is the symbiotic relationship that the people have with their environment. Downeasters are a people who make a living from their surroundings while still living within the natural constraints that the land and sea sets forth. Whatever it is that calls me to the region, I hope it remains unchanged for decades to come, as the world (specifically us city dwellers) occasionally needs to be reminded that havens such as Down East exist.


Image link-

Great site for exploring the Down East communities-


Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Outer Banks- "Restless Ribbons of Sand"

       The above title, originally coined in a report by Dr. Charles Peterson of UNC in a U.S. Department of the Interior publication on barrier islands (Pilkey et al., 1998), has come through time to represent many aspects of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Over time, the term has come to relate to various features of the banks such as its most literal meaning concerning the morphology and aeolian processes of the banks, but lending itself as well to interpretations such as isolation, development, and even equality. The extremely unique geography and geology of the Outer Banks has allowed for a place unto itself, resulting in a culture and physicality that are as equally unique. This post will examine how the geography of the "Restless Ribbon of Sand" that is the Outer Banks influenced the past and still affects us well into the 21st century.
        The Outer Banks is called a "Restless Ribbon of Sand" for a reason. Its thin surface area gives it the appearance of a piece of ribbon, a piece which stretches for over 160 miles down the shore of the mid-Atlantic coastline. This narrow piece of land goes hand in hand with the first interpretation listed above, isolation. At its greatest width, the Outer Banks are a staggering 55 miles from the shores of the inner coast. This distance spans over the vast inland sea, which early explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano thought to be the Pacific Ocean, but is what we now know to be Pamlico Sound. This isolation from the mainland has led the Outer Banks to develop their own unique culture, social norms, and even a distinct dialect known as the hoi toider (high tider) accent still spoken on the banks today ( Perhaps the greatest social norm that was unique to the banks during the Civil War and through the early 20th century was the treatment of African-Americans. Unlike the largely racist and slavery stricken mainland, the people of the Outer Banks seemed not to care what color a persons skin was, but rather what type of person they were. Following the Civil War, Roanoke Island became home to one of the earliest all black settlements in America. The "Freedmen's Colony" as it was called became a lively and prosperous place, home to dozens of African-American families seeking a new life in post-Civil War America. The tradition of equality continued into the 20th century with the formation of the Pea Island Life Saving Service, the only all black life saving service in America. The Pea Island men were known up and down the banks as being the most well prepared station on the banks, earning them respect in a time when it was not easily earned.
           Aside from social constructs, the unique location, geology and topography combine to form an interesting case when it comes to development on the Outer Banks. The isolation provided by the numerous sounds of Eastern North Carolina was the first problem when development began on the banks in the late 19th-early 20th century. Steamships were the only way to get to the banks, a problem greatly realized by many early visitors including Wilbur and Orville Wright, who made the dangerous journey for three straight years from 1900 to 1903. Now, in the 21st century, the isolation issue has been solved with bridges and ferries, yet development still remains an issue. Homes are built upon pieces of real estate that are constantly shifting and at the mercy of the wind, waves, and rain. Despite the drawbacks of building on sand that is indeed "restless", people still pay top dollar for these homes. However, when storms such as the recent Hurricane Sandy come ashore, these people are the first to cry foul, seemingly awestruck that their home succumbed to the natural effects of the storm. It's like living near an airport and complaining about the noise. Aside from building on land subject to erosion, overwash and other barrier island dynamics, another problem the Outer Banks is plagued with is over-development. The increasing number of people who want to make the banks the permanent or temporary home is without a doubt a double edged sword, one that is very very sharp. It is completely understandable that everyone wants a view of the beach from the window, however, this want is very unlikely and could be very costly in the long (or near) future. What most people seem not to understand is that barrier islands migrate landward in response to sea-level rise, no matter what type of insurance or how much money a person may have. This inevitable reality leads to house that can only be viewed as temporary, as it will most likely be gone or need serious remodeling in as little as a decade. With increasing amounts of people moving to the beach, problems such as sewage issues, water supplies, and unsafe development may lead the mayors of the towns along the banks to hang signs that read "no vacancy" to warn tourists upon entering their town.
          It is clear that the isolation of the banks has yielded a large range of results. Whether it be cultures and dialects native to the banks, civil liberties and rights uncommon in such a southern parallel of latitude, or severe cases of over development, this "restless ribbon of sand" that millions of people have grown to love has certainly fostered numerous characteristics that are truly unique to such as small area on this planet. The geography and geology of the banks has fostered brilliance such as the first flight of Wilbur and Orville Wright but such incompetence such as the over development of barrier islands that can only withstand so much. As we move into the future we must remember that the land we love so much is indeed restless and will not stop moving no matter how much we plead. We must remember that we are subject to the same forces as the island. We must remember that we are forced to move where the island moves. We must remember that it is the islands of the Outer Banks we love. We must remember that they (the islands) have limits that we are marching ever closer to. We must remember to think about the banks and how they will react in the future to what we think is right in the present.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Carteret County- The Best Kept Secret on the East Coast

Carteret County, NC, highlighted in red.

           Located on what is known as North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks or Crystal Coast, Carteret County is a haven for beach-goers, boaters, and vacationers alike. Carteret County was originally founded in 1722 by Sir John Carteret, the Earl of Granville and soon to be one of the Lords Proprietors of North Carolina. Before English settlement in the early 18th Century, Carteret County was home to two tribes of Indians, the Tuscarora, who lived in the river-estuaries of the Pamlico-Neuse River system, and the Coree, who are assumed to have lived in what is now modern day Downeast. In fact, the name Core Banks is named after the Coree Indians who frequented the banks to hunt and fish. By the start of the 1700's, settlers from English, Scottish, German, and Irish decent settled in the area, beginning to plant roots in what would soon be called Carteret County. By the 19th Century, Carteret County had turned into a agricultural and fishing hot spot, producing tobacco, lumber and grain, while at the same time shipping vast amounts of fish to the northern markets of Norfolk, Philadelphia, and New York. Moving into the 20th Century, towns such as Morehead City, founded by local politician John Motley Morehead and Atlantic Beach began to take shape and form the beaches and towns we know today.
          In present day, Carteret County has about 21 small towns resulting in a population of nearly 67,000 people, the three largest towns being Morehead City, Beaufort, and Emerald Isle. What drives the economies of nearly all 21 county towns now is a simple question to answer: tourism. Tourism is what runs the engine of Carteret County these days. In fact, tourism brought the county nearly 300 million dollars in 2011, a remarkable figure for such a small county. So, the question that begs to be asked next is, what are all of these people coming to see in Carteret County? The answer this time is a bit more complex. First and foremost, the beaches. The beach towns of Emerald Isle, Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach, right on up through the protected beaches of Fort Macon and Cape Lookout offer a pristinity (not a word, but should be) found little place else on the East coast. The "Crystal Coast", also known as Bogue Banks, offers a return to small beach towns of the past, while still providing the amenities desired by the 21st century tourist. Aside from the unspoiled beaches, Carteret County offers an abundance of history, ranging from the Civil War fort, Fort Macon, located at the east end of Bogue Banks, to the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, which provides a gateway to the maritime history which has engulfed Carteret County since its founding.
         What many people seem to forget is the fact that Carteret County is much more than just the beaches of the Crystal Coast and the quaint towns of Beaufort and Morehead City. In fact, Carteret County has over 1300 square miles of land (over 60% of which is water) filled with rivers, creeks and small towns which provide the perfect setting for a quiet vacation full of the outdoors. The north portion of the county, along the shores of Pamlico Sound provide excellent boating, fishing, and camping, as does the eastern portion of the county, along the shores of small towns such as Davis, Atlantic, Sea Level, and Stacy. In visiting Carteret County, the vacationer feels much like the early settlers did, as there is still much to explore, wilderness that has yet to be touched by the developing hand of mankind.  In the section below, you will find things to do and explore, as well as a climatic overview of Carteret County.

Things to do-
1. Enjoy the unspoiled beaches of Cape Lookout
2. Learn the history of Carteret County by visiting the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, the Core Sound Waterfowl museum in Harkers Island, and Fort Macon State Park on the eastern end of the Bogue Banks
3. Explore the rivers, creeks, and sounds of the county via kayak or skiff
4. Dine on some of the best seafood around (I especially recommend The Sanitary in Morehead City)
5. Stroll the historic streets of Beaufort, North Carolina's third oldest town.
and much much more!

The climate of Carteret County is like much of the south, which typically experiences cool winters, warm springs, hot and (very) humid summers, and beautiful falls. During the winter months, you will typically find temperatures in the 40's, 50's and 60's with high temperatures in the 30's being extremely rare. Precipitation is uniformly spread out in this season. Spring brings the return of mild to warm temperatures with highs ranging from 65 in March near 80-85 towards the middle to end of May with precipitation once again fairly well dispersed throughout the season. Summer brings the most uniformity to Carteret County, with daytime temperatures typically in the mid to upper 80's with lows ranging from 75-80 degrees, making for nights that are quite humid. Precipitation is a bit more abundant, however prolonged droughts are not uncommon. Falls are noted by the drop in humidity with temperatures still in the 70's until the beginning of November with precipitation being at its minimum. Of course, with both summer and fall, there is a threat for a tropical storm or hurricane. On average, North Carolina is struck about once every 2 to 3 years. The average water temperature are: Winter- upper 40's to mid 50's. Spring- upper 50's to upper 60's. Summer- upper 70's to low/mid 80's. Fall- mid 70's to mid 60's.  For a graphical view to the temperatures check out


Carteret County Links:

Picture link:


Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Times They Are a 'Changing

      As I read further into Anthony Bailey's "The Outer Banks", the twenty-first book to my Outer Banks collection, a very important theme has become omnipresent. It is a theme closely related to the topic of the last blog, which discussed an overall loss of banks culture and identity, one which engulfed the Outer Banks of North Carolina up until the late 20th century, coinciding with the rise of the desire for modernity via hotels, motels, shopping centers and housing developments. The theme uncovered or more so reaffirmed by Bailey is that the the Outer Banks, in terms of culture and economics has been lost, mainly to the modernized world which literally surrounds the Outer Banks.
      Throughout the latter half of the 20th century and continuing right on through the 21st, the Outer Banks have seen two distinctively different economies, leaving many to adapt or be left behind. Consider for example, a banker born and raised on Ocracoke during the 40s or 50s. This banker most likely grew up fishing and working various odd jobs throughout the course of a year to make ends meet. This same banker, now in his late 50s or 60s, needs to adapt to a totally different, tourist (or dingbatter) based economy, or else be left in the dust. An interesting topic broached by Bailey in his book is one that concerns the local-tourist relationship. Bailey notes that although there is often much disdain towards a dingbatter, the deciding line is drawn "between those who want to keep up with the times and make money and those who want to keep things the way they were" (Bailey pg. 223). This dynamic presents an interesting dilemma for those locals who are understandably dedicated to preserving the past, but simultaneously need to earn a living, and since fishing and fishing related industry has been on a general downward slope for a number of decades, other methods (i.e. hotels, motels, charter fishing, etc.) must be utilized to earn an income. An Ocracoker interviewed by Bailey, by the name of Dr. Sessons also interestingly points out that though many locals want to stay and preserve their heritage, "It is ironic that it seems to be largely tourism that create jobs which allow younger islanders to stay on their own island" (Bailey pg. 226).
       Although not a local, yet someone who holds the banks very close to their heart, I believe it is absolutely crucial that the unique and truly remarkable history of the Outer Banks be preserved before ensuring that the 21st century accommodations are met for the traveler. If one is coming to the Outer Banks in the first place, they are most likely doing so to escape the crowds of people elsewhere, and to return to a state of solitude and semi-isolation, a combination which can be found very few places in the United States. However, as the title of this post suggests, the times are changing, and if the Outer Banks is to survive economically in its current state as a tourist mecca, tourists accommodations must be made. Perhaps in order to cope with over development yet still meeting the needs for tourists, the banks should embrace the natural resources that surround them, focusing more on eco-tours, rustic cabins like those of Cape Lookout and small scale development rather than the high rise hotels popping up along the Outer Banks. In any case, the Outer Banks has shifted from an economy run by the sea to one run by tourists from afar, and if this is to be the way for years to come, action must be taken to ensure that the attractiveness of the now does not compromise the beauty of the past.


Nags head circa 1920, still very much a rural beach community.
Nags Head in the 21st century, showing the high-scale development.

image links: