Cape Hatteras National Seashore was authorized by Congress on August 17, 1937, and officially established on January 12, 1953.

In 1957 eleven miles of what was to become NC Highway 12 through the Seashore Park on Ocracoke Island was paved. The last three miles (at the north end of the island) was a single lane of WWII metal landing mats (with “pullovers” every half mile for passing oncoming vehicles). For many of those miles the highway traversed barren tidal flats, and was exposed to overwash from the ocean during storms.


To help protect the road, the National Park Service and the State of North Carolina constructed a continuous row of man-made dunes between the new highway and the Atlantic Ocean. Workers erected “sand fences” to catch the blowing sand. Sea oats and other grasses were planted to stabilize the new dunes. For many years, horses, cattle, sheep, and goats had been permitted to roam throughout the island. Apparently, no one anticipated the problems Ocracoke’s free-ranging livestock would cause for the new highway.

In April of 1957 Ocracoke native, R. Stanley Wahab, circulated a petition to have all free-ranging livestock removed from the island. Excerpts from the petition follow:

“The new highway on Ocracoke Island is now being retarded and damaged by cattle and horses running at large along the beach adjacent to the highway and the area where sand fences are being erected.

“On several occasions while driving on the new highway where grass, planted by the Highway Commission, on the shoulders of the highway had started to grow, cattle and horses were seen grazing and eating this grass which had sprung up, thereby destroying the grass before it could fully mature and serve its purpose. Furthermore, the sand shoulders of the highway and the sand caught by the sand fences is being trampled by livestock running at large. The two hundred cattle and about fifty horses are destroying what the State of North Carolina and the U. S. Government have expended large sum of taxpayer’s money to build.

“The beach land is not the only property where damage is being inflicted. In the village of Ocracoke property owners (the great majority do not own any livestock) are the victims. Horses run at large on the property of the citizens and also on the land in the village that is owned by the Park Service. Stallions and mares are conspicuous in their breeding process, fences are being damaged and torn down, horses are dumping dung on the lands and in the yards of the property owners and are destroying their flowers and other vegetation.

“There is a Bill pending in the present N. C. General Assembly to remove all livestock from Ocracoke Island. Amendments have been offered and are now in process which would permit thirty horses to remain for the use of the Boy scouts. If such amendments would pass, the present damage and destruction would continue to exist.

“Our citizens like and admire the Boy Scouts and would not object to their horses being kept, provided they are kept penned and not permitted to run at large on public land and on the property of those who do not own horses.

“A great majority of our citizens are opposed to horses and other livestock running at large on Ocracoke Island, in defiance of the existing N. C. No Fence Law.’

Seventeen people signed the petition.

Marvin Howard, scoutmaster of Ocracoke’s mounted Boy Scout Troop #290, was successful in allowing a remnant herd of banker ponies to remain on the island. Marvin, with help from the boy scouts, constructed the first pony pen on National Park Service land. All remaining free-ranging livestock was removed from the island.




Already it is nearing the end of July!  Summertime, of course, brings many people to Ocracoke for swimming, fishing, boating and just plain relaxing.

In addition to the regular appeal of a summer vacation on Ocracoke, July 4 has become a favorite time for many folks to come to the island to celebrate our nation’s independence.  This year our community again hosted a number of special events guaranteed to be remembered.

The day began with a flag raising ceremony at the Ocracoke school.  Immediately afterwards the focus shifted to the “life guard” beach for our annual sand sculpture contest.  As usual many outstanding artists joined the fun to create some spectacular entries.  If you’ve never visited during this summer holiday you can only imagine the variety of unusual, but short-lived, creations.

Here are a couple of my favorites.

Reclining Beach Beauty

Sand Dragon

By mid-morning our attentions were turned to the heavens for the sky-diving demonstration by “The Herd.”  Then Ocracoke’s favorite pirate, Blackbeard, came to life with a one-man show performed by Ben Cherry.

Throughout the day Jimmy’s Garage hosted a classic car show and the National Park Service kept the Ocracoke Lighthouse open for public viewing.

In the mid-1950’s, before tourism mushroomed on the island, local folks celebrated Independence Day with a funky, down-home parade that wound through the village on the narrow concrete road that the Navy had paved a decade earlier.

That tradition is kept alive with our present-day parade that boasts several dozen home-made floats and numerous off-beat costumes.  The streets were lined with spectators, and businesses closed just to watch the parade.

Local fishermen protest Anheuser-Busch’s policies to undermine commercial fishing:
Boat Float

Blackbeard is assisted by the USCG:
Blackbeard On Float

Patriotic bike riders abound:
patriotic bike

Island themes predominate:
Hot Monkey

The day’s festivities ended with a memorable fireworks display launched from the “ditch,” the entrance to Silver Lake.  Visible from anyplace you could see the sunset, it lit up the night sky with an impressive light show for the better part of an hour.

If you plan to visit the island next year during the July 4th holidays be sure to make reservations!

The rest of this month has been mostly hot and dry, a perfect time for a cooling dip in the ocean.  But please remember to be careful when swimming in the ocean.  Sadly, several people have drowned already on the Outer Banks this year.  The National Park Service provides helpful information about rip currents that is available at the visitor’s center and at the lifeguard beach.  Please take a few moments to read it.

Until next time, all of the staff at Village Craftsmen send you our wishes for a wonderful summer and we hope to see you soon on the island.