The Outer Banks of North Carolina

The Saturday Evening Post, September 1992 | Go to article overview

The Outer Banks of North Carolina


From a seagull's perspective, the Outer Banks of North Carolina stretch ruler-straight over the horizon, a giant map of sand, greenery, and rooftops bordered by electric blue as far as the eye can see. It's eerily quiet up here, harnessed beneath a big triangular kite. As little gusts of wind lift and shift the hang glider, I hold onto a metal bar with one hand and tightly grip my partner's harness with the other. I'm alternately awed, thrilled, and terrified. One of us circling around up here is an expert, and it's not I.

All too soon we've landed back on the sand, upright and safe. Somehow the essence of this place has been tapped; its ghosts gratified--even joined.

Airborne adventure seems particularly appropriate for the Outer Banks. Even the name stirs the imagination. Like outer space, it conjures up images of mysterious, unexplored expanses, of isolation, solitude, and risk-taking. Abundant history, top-heavy with shipwrecked mariners, pirates, explorers, inventors, and adventurers, fuels the fantasy.

The thin, sandy skeins of the Outer Banks, fragile and ceaselessly shifting with the wind, aim like a taut bowstring from the North Carolina coast into the swirling currents of the Atlantic Ocean. Ruled by the quixotic tempers of the sea, yet claimed by terra firma, the 200-mile stretch of barrier islands was once a remote and barren place, suitable only for millions of migratory birds and great schools of fish running offshore.

More recently, man made unique imprints here--adventurers not to be erased by waves and wind. Some four centuries ago, America's first English colonists vanished on Roanoke Island--a mystery that has never been solved. In 1718, near his lair on Ocracoke Island, Blackbeard the Pirate met his end at the hands of the British Royal Navy. In 1903, the high, empty sand dunes of what is now Kill Devil Hills served as testing grounds for Wilbur and Orville Wright's first flying machine.

Even today, while modern man is bestowing upon these islands his inevitable stamp of approval in the form of rampant development, nature still dominates. Last fall Atlantic storms battered the area and Hurricane Bob gave warning of what is predicted to be a decades-long period of intense storms to menace the entire East Coast and the vulnerable Outer Banks in particular.

Once called the Graveyard of the Atlantic, the Outer Banks' treacherous currents, unpredictable winds, and shifting offshore sandbars have claimed hundreds of ships. One of them, the "Monitor," a Civil War ironclad, is being excavated 16 miles off Cape Hatteras, its artifacts to repose in a museum there.

Today high winds and waves attract hoards of surfers and windsurfers. Fishermen out for "big blues" can charter from the largest fishing fleet on the East Coast. A resident population of 23,000 annually swells with an influx of 125,000 visitors.

Because the constantly blowing sands are moving inexorably inland in a southerly direction. in the late 1930s the National Park Service began an extensive seashore reclamation project. Thanks to their efforts, mass tourism has not encroached upon 130 miles of beach and sand dunes designated as Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores. They begin south of Nags Head and bypass "Banker" villages, most of which were sparsely populated by second-generation Virginia English, fugitives, and shipwrecked mariners long before the government stepped in.

Now in vigorous competition for tourist dollars, hamlets have succumbed to various stages and styles of development. A few have strict building codes, zoned for traditional, low-profile architecture reminiscent of the New England seacoast.

The wood-shingled style that predominates in the area derives from lifesaving stations built from 1870 to 1915 at seven-mile intervals to rescue passengers and crew from wrecked ships. During that period, the U.S. Lifesaving Service, now the Coast Guard, is said to have saved more than 175,000 lives. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Outer Banks of North Carolina
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.