Thursday, December 4, 2008

Our Outer Banks, North Carolina Vacation


Over the Thanksgiving holiday we went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We had never been there before, and while we originally had plans to go someplace else, they did not pan out. Since we had the time off we decided to go someplace we had never been before. We are so glad we went. This is a beautiful area. It was not crowded since it was the off season. There is still plenty to see. A lot of things were closed for the season, but we wouldn't have gone on the go-carts or played miniature golf anyway. The other things to see--lighthouses, the National Seashore, wildlife refuges, wildlife education centers, and just the all around beauty of the area--were all still there. The following pictures are a documentation of our trip. I still had to get some pictures off the Internet--you'll see snow on the ground in some of the pictures of the Wright Brothers Museum that was not there when we were there. This is definitely a go-back-to place. I hope you enjoy the pictures and

The first day we were there it was cold and rainy. Our hotel was right on the beach and we could watch the ocean. We took a drive through the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to Hatteras Island and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. I have a new interest now--lighthouses. We saw a total of four while we were here. Did you realize lighthouse keepers lost their jobs with the event of electricity? They were no longer needed to trip the wicks, fill the lamps and wind the mechanisms that kept the lenses balanced on the lights. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore was the first in the country. It goes from Nags Head to Ocracoke Island, a total of 75 miles and 30,000 acres. It is a haven for birdwatching, swimming, boating, surfing, wind boarding and hiking. It is absolutely beautiful. Cape Hatteras is one of the most visited National Parks. There is also lots of history here. In the 16th century Amerigo Vespucci landed on the beach at Cape Hatteras, and four hundred years later the wreckage of ships destroyed by German U-boats washed up on the same beaches. Blackbeard the Pirate had his base here to terrorize shipping. There is really no well defined boundary where the land ends and the sea begins. The two work together and share many resources. There are dwarfed, odd-shaped trees that are pruned by the salt-laden winds. There are shore birds on the beaches searching for food, some catching small fish or crabs, others probing the sand or searcing under shells for clams, worms and insects. In the higher more protected areas you will find oak trees, cedar trees and yupon holly giving color to the green, brown and blue landscape. Usually this area is very peaceful, but storms with fierce winds can batter the area and have caused huge changes in the shoreline over the years. The various animals and sealife are constantly adapting to meet the demands and survive the changes. In the sea you can find channel bass, pompani, sea trout, bluefish and other sport fish. There are also snow geese, Canada geese, ducks and as many as 400 different species of birds. Twice daily the sea waters meet the marsh waters as the tides rise and ebb. Cape Hatteras stretches across three islands--Bodie (pronounced body), Hatteras and Ocracoke, which are linked by a narrow paved highway and the Hatteras Inlet ferry. The highway passes through eight villages which are not part of the park. On Coquina Beach you can find the ruins of the shipwrecked Laura A. Barnes not far from where she went aground.

The Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is located on the north end of Hatteras Island. It was established in 1938 for the protection of wildlife, especially migratory waterfowl. It runs twelve miles from Oregon Inlet to Rodanthe, the site of a new movie staring Richard Geer. The Inn of the movie actually exists, although it is now closed and up for sale. The refuge encompasses 6,000 acres of land and 25,700 acres of boundary water of the Pamlico Sound, where hunting is not allowed. It is named for the wild pea vines which grow abundantly here.

Pea Island is a birdwatcher's paradise, with more than 265 species of birds, such as Canada and snow geese, and more than 25 species of duck, tundra swan, heron, egret, tern, and other migratory birds. There are platforms provided throughout the refuge for observation. You will see Laughing Gulls, Herring Gulls and pelicans floating on the wind currents and diving for food. Osprey hunts for food, grabs it in his talons and then flies back to a pile of sticks on a dead tree that is his nest.

The United States Life Saving Service was established by Congress in 1873. Its purpose was to patrol the beaches looking for ships in distress along the treacherous North Carolina coast. In an area called Chicamacomico there were twelve Life Saving Stations established at seven mile intervals. They were patrolled by a crew of 5-10 men on foot or horseback. The most famous of these stations is the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station built in 1874. On a daily basis the courageous crew of this station risked their lives.

In the late 1840s the federal government agreed to form a lifesaving service but it was never really started. For the first 20 years the activities of the service were focused in New York, New Jersey and the Great Lakes. With the event of the Civil War the efforts continued to be stalled. By 1871 there were 71 "red houses" known as houses of refuge that looked more like barns than lifesaving stations. In the 1870s shipping activity along the North Carolina coast increased and a man by the name of Sumner Kimball was given the top spot of the United States Lifesaving Service. New stations were ordered built along the East Coast including the areas along the Outer Banks that were beginning to earn the title "Graveyard of the Atlantic." In 1874 plans were initiated that showed a building much more established than a barn, and these same plans were used for about two dozen stations along the East Coast, seven of which were on the Outer Banks--Chicamacomico, Little Kinnakeet, Bodie Island, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Caffey's Inlet and Currituck Beach, also known as Jones Hill. The man who was to build the station, James Boyle, had worked on a station in Little Kinnakeet, which was also on Hatteras Island, but the marine revenue cutter inspector made him tear it down becasue it did not conform to the military plans. Boyle was fired before the Kinnakeet station was rebuilt as a variation of the Chicamacomico station. This building now belongs to the National Park Service. Over the years the other stations built according to the 1874 plans have met various fates--one was lost to the sea, others have become private residences or offices. The station at Kitty Hawk has been moved twice and is now the Black Pelican Restaurant and has it's on historical significance. It is where the Wright Brothers went to send a telegram to announce their first flight. This building may also have a ghost, as people report strange happenings, such as glasses being moved mysteriously down the bar. The original station at Caffey's Inlet station burned, but a replacement built in 1899 still stands in the original location in the town of Duck and serves as the restaurant at the Sanderling Inn. For several generations the Chicamacomico Station was the heart of the area, with the town leaders being people who made lifesaving their career. One such person was Zion S. Midgett, who served for 30 years. He had five sons, four of which were in the Coast Guard. The Chicamacomico lifesavers were known for daring rescues. In 1891 they were credited for saving seven members of the Strathairly which had been lost in wind, fog and high surf. In 1898 the rescued the crew of the schooner Fessenden. In 1899 they were able to save the entire crew of the Mini Bergen by using the Lyle gun and "Breeches Bouys". If the surf was really high or a vessel wrecked too close to shore, a Lyle gun was used. This was actually a bronze cannon mounted on a wooden carriage that could fire a projectile and line 450 yards. According to a history of the station, "The surfmen on shore fired the projectile over the wreck, where the crew secured it to the wreck." Once the rope, known as a hawser, was secure, the rescue could begin. "Underneath the hawser rode the rescue device known as the breeches bouy, a life ring with trouser legs. One victim at a time could be pulled ashore in the breeches bouy by the rescurers on the beach." The Chicamacomico station has been moved several times over the years. If it was still in the original spot it would be 1800 feet into the ocean. According to present literature the building is now 3/4 mile south and 2900 feet west of the original site with its grans doors offering quick access to the sea. Many of the ornate aspects of the building have been removed and destroyed. The eave supports were protected when a shed was added in 1889, and once they were found it was possible to see the original paint so the restoration of the building could be as close to the original as possible. Ironically, the restorer researched the original building and found the original plans for it, which were saved almost by accident by a United States Coast Guard historian from Charleston who put them aside when files were being cleaned out. The Life Saving Stations later became the United States Coast Guard. The original architect of the building was Frances W. Chandler, who was a graduate of the Paris Architectural Institute. He toured Europe sketching favorite buildings from Gothic and Renaissance styles. It is felt he used the best parts of his sketches to design the Chicamacomico building. The restorer was even able to trace down Chandler's sketchbooks in the personal library of E. I. Dupont. The same design was used for the original stations along the coast from Cross, Maine to the Outer Banks, but most have been remodeled or added to. In Chandler's sketchbook there were designs that were repeated in the Chicamacomico building, such as windows from a church in northern France that was built in the 1500s. There was also a drawing of a medieval building in Cannes, France that was built in 1032. The board-and-batten style with gothic windows was the same as are in the Chicamacomico station. Everything in the building is pegged with wooden pegs. There is not one nail in the entire frame. It has been hit by storms, knocked off its foundadtion three times, and moved many times but has remained intact. Many of the records of the lifesaving crew have been missing, but in 1970 it was found the government sold uncataloged United States Treasury Department records datinf from 1795 tom 1914 to a foundation for $260,000. This small foundation microfilmed and cataloged the records but have never had an outside request to review them. The foundation allowed Ken Wenberg, the man restoring the building, to copy the first book ever printed for the lifesaving service, and they are now working with Wenberg and the Chicamacomico Historian Association. Other records Wenberg has found are the surfmen's logs, which give first hand descriptions of the lifesavingefforts. These were found in the Atlanta branch of the National Archives. Other records have been found in libraries of major universities.

The United States Lifesaving Service later became the United States Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard decommissioned the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station in 1954. The buildings of this lifesaving station are some of the most complete United States Lifesaving Service/United States Coast Guard Station complexes on the Atlantic Coast. The main station, built in 1911, and the Fearing Shipwreck Exhibit are now museums in which can be found pieces of hundreds of vessels shipwrecked off the North Carolina Coast for over 400 years. The older building, built in 1874, houses the life boat used in many now famous rescues. One of those rescues occured on August 16, 1918. The British tanker, Mirlo, with a crew of fifty-two picked up a full load of gasoline in New Orleans on August 10, 1918. She then headed across the Gulf of Mexico and through the Florida Keys, then up the East Coast toward Norfolk, Virginia. History tells us the Diamond Shoals Lightship was not there, but the Mirlo safely passed Cape Hatteras a little after noon on August 16th, and continued on toward Wimble Shoals. The ocean was fairly calm, but when the Mirlo was opposite the Wimble Shouls Light Buoy there was a tremendous explosion that wrecked the engine room and put the lights and wireless out of commission. The captain of the ship, W. R. Williams, ordered the lifeboats to be made ready to lower and attempted to beach the Mirlo. Later Captain Williams reported the ship had been torpedoed, although he did not actually see the torpedo and there was no proof of enemy submarines in the area. It was later thought the Mirlo actually struck a mine in the water. The explosion was witnessed by a lookout in the Chicamacomico Coast Guard Station, which was seven miles northeast of the light buoy. The keeper of the Chicamacomico Station was Captain John Allen Midgett. In most cases, while the keepers of these stations are addressed as Captain, they are actually Chief Bosun Mates. Captain Midgett was summoned and ordered out his power lifeboat. As the lifesavers were preparing to put to sea, there was a second explosion on the Mirlo and her load of gasoline cought fire. Captain Williams had given up all hope of beaching the ship and ordered the lifeboats lowered away. The first lifeboat lowered was from the port of the Mirlo, and it fouled the stays and capsized. The sixteen men in the lifeboat were thrown into the sea, but all managed to reach the capsized boat and hang on. The other two lifeboats, one with Captain Williams and sixteen men, the other with Boatswain Donald and eighteen men, were lowered safely. At this point there was yet a third explosion which cut the ship in half and gasoline was emptied over the water all around. The Captain's lifeboat was soon clear of the fire, but the second lifeboat, which had no oars, drifted aimlessly, and the third lifeboat, which was the one that had capsized, stayed near the sinking Mirlo in the path of the fuel still gushing from her hold. The men clinging to this lifeboat were soon covered with gasoline, and their clothes, hair and bodies were on fire. The only way they were able to stay alive was by going under water as long as they could hold their breath, coming up for air, then submerging again. Even so, ten men soon disappeared. Captain Midgett and his experienced surfmen, which included Zion S. Midgett, Leroy S. Midgett, Arthur V. Midgett, Clarence C. Midgett and Prochorus O'Neal (who was married to a Midgett), in the motor surfboat came through the breaches without accident. They continued on to the towering cloud of smoke and flames coming out of the ocean at Wimble Shoals. On the way to the rescue Captain Midgett met Captain Williams' lifeboat and gave instructions to Captain Williams to continue close to the shore and wait there until Captain Midgett returned. The wind had risen to almost gale intensity, and the waves were increasing in size and force. Under such conditions only a self-bailing surfboat with experienced men would get safely through the breakers. Captain Williams told Captain Midgett two other lifeboats had been launched, and that one had capsized near the sinking Mirlo. Captain Midgett continued on to within a few hundred yards of the Mirlo, which was about to go completely under water. He was met by an inferno, with the entire surface of the ocean covered with gasoline, flames shooting up, and a huge cloud of black smoke above them. Captain Midgett circled the cloud of smoke, coming up on the lee side and finally finding an opening in the blaze. In the opening he saw a capsized lifeboat with men clinging to it. As we so often see, people do strange, foolish and brave things in an emergency. Not hesitating at all, Cpatain Midgett turned his wooden boat toward the blazing sea, ordered his crew to man the oars, and skillfully maneuvered the surfboat therought he narrow open passageway. He continued on through great sheets of fire, constantly enveloped in black smoke and hardly able to see in the darkness. He finally reached the overturned lifeboat and he and his crew pulled the six exhausted, burned, hysterical , amazed crewmen into the surfboat. One of his own crew collapsed in the bow of the surfboat and had to be replaced, after which Captain Midgett, accomplishing his mission, turned around and headed out to the open sea again. The high winds and waves were the only things that saved the six men who were rescued from the overturned lifeboat, but but it also almost destroyed the nineteen men on the lifeboat with Boatswain Donald. This was the smallest of the three lifeboats, but carried the most men. The gunwales were almost level with the water and with every wave she took on water. The flames were blown by the sea wind, and burned the men in the boat and set the boat itself on fire. The men took their clothes off to beat at the fire until they were naked, but the boat continued to burn, and because of the smoke they could see nothing. Captain Midgett was not finished. He circled the burning area, but could not find the third lifeboat. Finally, at dusk, he saw it drifting helplessly with the naked and burned men still in it. Captain Midgett and his crew hurried to the boat, passed a line to it, and headed back to the beach where Captain Williams still waited. Captain Midgett left both boats there, landing the first load of survivors through the surf while other lifesavers on the shore shone a powerful light on the large breakers. He returned a second and a third time until all forty-two survivors were saved. Captain Midgett and his crew received Gold Lifesaving Medals from the United States Govenrment, and Victory Medals from the British Government, allowed their wounds to heal, and returned to their lifesaving duties. When all was saifd and done it was found the cause of the explosion was the German submarine U-117.

We continued on to the Cape Hatteras Light Station at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is located in the village of Buxton, North Carolina. It is the tallest lighthouse in the nation and is a very famous symbol of that state. The beacon from the lighthosue can be seen for twenty miles, and has warned sailors for more than one hundred years of the dangerous Diamond Shoals which has shallow sandbars that extend fourteen miles into the ocean off Cape Hatteras. It was built with 1,250,000 bricks that were baked in kilns along the James River in Virginia and brought in scows into Capr Creek, then hauled by oxen one mile to the building site. At the bast the walls are fourteen feet thick, and they narrow to eight feet at the top. It weighs 6,250 tons and was built with no pilings under it, just a foundation of heart pine. From the base to the top brick it is 196 feet, and is then topped with an iron superstructure, for a total of 208 feet. It cost $155,000 to build. There are 268 steps, and from the top there is a fantastic view of the national seashore.

Supposedly the engineer who was originally assigned to paint the North Carolina lighthouses got the plans confused. Diamond shaped figures that would have been suitable for Diamond Shoals went to Cape Lookout and the Cape Hatteras Lighthose was painted with spiral stripes earning it the nickname "The Big Barber Pole".

This sign states, "Cape Hatteras Light Station has been designated a National Historic Landmark. This site possesses National significance in commerating the history of the United States of America. 1998 National Park Service. United States Department of the Interior."

And these signs read, " National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. American Society of Civil Engineers 1852 Completed 1870 Designated 1999."
"Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement 2000 American Society of Civil Engineers 1852 The Cape Hatteras LIght Station Relocation Project Designated: April 29, 2000."

"There have been words written to the effect that the lighthouse keepers and their families had a very lonely life; however, we did not have this experience. In fact just the opposite would be more apt to apply. The lighthouse was always a favorite place to visit by the village folk so we would have lots of company, especially on Sunday afternoons and the evening hours, when the heat of summer was unbearable in the wooded areas of the village. Swimming, baseball games, croquet, chasing wild horses and pinning them in the yards for breaking to saddle, and climbing the lighthouse were a big part of our lives." ---Randy Jenrette, son of the last Principal Keeper at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
"Two residences served the keepers and their families at teh Cape Hatteras Light Station. The larger building, the double Keepers' Quarters (1854), was built for teh staff of the first lighthouse and today serves as Cape Hatteras National Seashore's Hatteras Island Visitors Center. The smaller building is the Principal Keepers Quarters (1871), constructed from materials left over from the present-day lighthouse. It accomodated the head lighthouse keeper and his family."

The door of the lighthouse.

The Top of the Lighthouse

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse--In the summer of 1999 the encroaching waters of teh Atlantic Ocean threatened the structure. The Cape Hatteras Light was moved from the original location.

The Lighthouse Keepers Quarters

The Following facts are from " North Carolina Lighthouses"

There are various numbers assigned to the height of this lighthouse. Generally, height is stated as 198 feet. After relocation, it gained about two feet in elevation.

Cape Hatteras is the tallest brick lighthouse in North America.

The lighthouse was completed in 1870.

In 1870, with 24 panels in its 1st Fresnel lens, the light turned at 1/4 RPM. Today, its modern aerobeacon emits the same flash characteristic with one 2.5 second white "flash" every 7.5 seconds for six "flashes" per minute.

The beacon reaches 19 nautical miles; one nautical mile equals 1.15 statute miles

The last Keeper was Unaka Jennette who closed the lighthouse due to erosion in 1936. The light was housed in a skeletal tower in Buxton Woods until relighting the striped tower in 1950

The 1803, brown sandstone tower was destroyed after its Fresnel lens was shipped to Pigeon Point Light Station in California, following completion of the 1870 tower.

There are 268 cast-iron steps that lead to the lantern room

The day were were at the lighthouse someone found a sea turtle on the beach. The park rangers picked up the turtle and they were going to take it to have it assessed and if it was well would release it again to the wild in a safer place than the beach.
"The treacherous waters that lie off the coast of the Outer Banks bear the name Graveyard of the Atlantic. It is a grim, but fitting, epithet. for here more than 600 ships have wrecked, victims of shallow shoals, storms, and war. Diamond Shoals, a bank of shifting sand ridges hidden beneath a turbulent sea off Cape Hatteras, has never promised safe passage for any ship. But seafarers often risked the shials to take advantage of north or south flowing currents that passed nearby. Many never reached their destination. Fierce winter nor-easters and tropical-born hurricanes drove many ships aground, including the schooner G. A. Kohler in 1933. Other ships were lost in wars. During World War II German submarines sank so many allied tankers and cargo ships here that these waters earned a second sobering name--Torpedo Junction. In the past 400 years the graveyard has claimed many lives. But many were saved by island villagers. As early as the 1870s villagers served as members of the U. S. Life Saving Service. Others manned lighthouses built to guide mariners. Later, when the U.S. Coast Guard became the guardians of the nation's shores, many residents joined its ranks. When rescue attempts failed, villagers buried the dead and salvaged shipwreck remains. Today few ships wreck, but storms atill uncover the ruins of old wrecks that lie along the beaches of the Outer Banks.
Nineteenth century island rescue crews returned shipwreck survivors to safety in small oar-powered boats. Today the U.S. Coast Guard patrols the Outer Banks with helicopters and other modern equipment. The Gold Lifesaving Medal, the highest peacetime honor for saving a life, has been awarded to may Hatteras rescurers for their extraordinary heroic deeds."
National Park Service
There is an actual museum at the end of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It was closed when we were there. The following markers were on the parking lot outside the muesum.

" In the age old battle of man against the sea, the USS Monitor, in route ot Beaufort, North Carolina under ow by the USS Rhode Island, foudered in a gale sixteen miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras at approximately 1:30 a.m. on New Year's Eve 1862. 'We had left behind us, one more treasure added to the priceless store which the ocean so jealously hides. The Cumberland and Congress went first; the little boat that avenged their loss has followed; in both noble souls have gone down. Their names are for history; and as long as we remain a people, so long will the work of the Monitor be remembered, and her story told to our children's children.' "
Greenville M. Weeks, Surgeon USS Monitor


"After a hot summer of routine duty in the Hampton Roads area Monitor badly needed an overhaul. This work, done at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., fitted the ship with a telescopic smokestack, improved ventilation, davits for handling her boats and a variety of other changes to enhance her fighting power and habitability. She returned to the combat zone in November 1862, remaining in the vicinity of Newport News for the the rest of the months and nearly through the next.
In December, Monitor was ordered south to join the stockading off the Carolinas. After preparing for sea , on 29 December she left Hampton Roads in tow of the USS Rhode Island, bound for Beaufort, North Carolina. The weather, expected to be good for the entire voyage, stayed that way into the 30th, as the two ships moved slowly along, several miles off the North Carolina Coast. However, wind and seas picked up during the afternoon and turned to a gale by evening. The Monitor labored heavily as she neared Cape Hatteras, famous for its nasty sea conditions. Water began to enter the ship faster than the pumps could expel it and conditions on board deteriorated dangerously.
Shortly before midnight, it wa clear that Monitor was in grave danger. Her steam pressure was fast failing as rising water drowned the boiler fires. The tow line was cut, the anchor dropped, and distress signals were sent to the Rhode Island. Boats managed to remove most of the ironclad's crewmen under extremely difficult conditions, but several men were swept away. Finally, at about 1:30 in the morning of 31 December 1862, the historic Monitor sank, to be last visible to human sight for nearly 112 years. Sixteen of the crew of sixty-two were lost with her."
Naval Historical Center
USS Rhode Island, a 1,51 ton side wheel steamer, was the civilian steamship Eagle when she was acquired by the Navy in June 1861. Commissioned in Late July of that year, Rhode Island was initially employed as a supply ship, carrying men and cargo from Northern bases to the units operating along the Confederate coastline. After service in the Gulf of Mexico, she was assigned to tow the Ironclad USS Monitor from Hampton Roads, Virginia, south to join the Naval forces in South Carolina waters. On 30-31 December 1862, after encountering a severe storm off Cape Hatteras, Monitor was overcome by the weather and sank. Under very difficult conditions, boats from Rhode Island rescued most of the lost ship's officers and men.
In early 1863, Rhode Island was sent to the West Indies to look for Confederate cruisers thought to be operating in the area. During the rest of that year into 1864, she operated along the Atlantic coast. Placed out of commission for repairs in April 1864, Rhode Island returned to active service in early September with a greatly increased gun battery, better suiting her for a cruising role. In addition to serving in that mission, she also towed several monitors to and from the combat zone and participated in the assults on Fort Fisher, North Carolina in December 1864 and January 1865. Throughout her Civil War service, Rhode Island took part in the capture or destruction of seven blocade runners.
Several months after the end of the conflict, Rhode Island helped bring the former Confederate ironclad Stonewall from Cuba to the United States. She remained in service through 1866 and beyond, cruising in the western Atlantic and West Indies areas. USS Rhode Island was decommissioned in 1867 and sold in October of that year. She subsequently had a lengthy civilian career under the name Charleston.
Naval Historical Center
"USS Cumberland was a full ship-rigged sailing sloop built in the Boston Navy Yard and launched in 1842. Cumberland began its career with the Mediterranean squadron serving as its flagship from 1843-1845. Captain S. L. Breese was its firt commander and John A. Dahlgren served as an officer. It was during this cruise that Dahlgren studied and tested new shell guns and later designed a series of naval guns that were the most powerful and reliable of the period.
During the Mexican War, Cumberland served in the Gulf of Mexico. In 1846, Cumberland's attack on Mexican warships in the Alvardo River was delayed after it grounded on a coral reef and had to be sent back to Boston for repairs. In 1848, Cumberland returned to the United States carrying, among others, Matthew Calbraith Perry.
Cumberland returned to the Mediterranean twice, the second time serving as the flagship of the squadron from 1852-1855. During one of these cruises, Cumberland's crew witnessed the European powers preparing for the Crimean War, a war which would make use of steam power, ironclad ships, and prove the superiority of shell over solid shot. The use of the newer heavy shell guns in naval warfare did not go unnoticed. To maintain naval superiority, American naval planners called for a Navy based on large corvettes (vessels with one gun deck). Cumberland's spar deck and quarter galleys were removed, thereby increasing its speed without sacrificing its strength. Theses alterations made Cumberland a magnificent corvette and fast sailor. It now carried sixteen 32-pound guns, six 8-inch shell guns, and two 1-inch shell pivot guns on its bow and stern. These changes, done at the Washington Navy Yard, allowed Cumberland more firepower even at its reduced size. Cumberland had further refinements in 1860 and 1862, leaving its final configuration as twenty-two 9-inch Dahlgren guns, one 10-inch pivot gun, and a rifled 70-pound pivot gun on the stern, its most famous weapon. After 1856, the ship was no longer a frigate but a sloop of war.
From 1857 to 1859, Cumberland cruised the coast of Africa suppressing the slave trade as a flagship of the African squadron. It spent the period immediately prior to the Civil War cruising the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico as the flagship of the Home Squadron.
Early in 1861, Cumberland, recently back from the Gulf of Mexico, was at the Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia. In one of the greatest mistakes of the war, Union forces made a half-hearted attempt to destroy the yard and retreat to nearby fort Monroe on 20 April 1861. The fleeing federals scuttled some ships of the old navy including the USS Merrimack. Three Union ships, including Cumberland, escaped. Skilled Confederate workers at the shipyard began the task of converting Merrimack's hulk into an ironclad warship, rechristened CSS Virginia.
Cumberland was later assigned to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron stationed in Hampton Roads, Virginia and proclaimed the blocaked in Virginia and North Carolina from its decks. Cumberland captured vessels carrying cotton, coal, hay, tobacco and military stores.
In August 1861, the warship participated in the Union assault on Hatteras Inlet, an early and successful combined operation. However, Cumberland was beginning to show its age, spending much of the battle under tow and at times had to stand offshore due to threatening weather. Cumberland had been modernized and altered as much as possible. Its inferiority to the latest developments in warship-design would only grow.
On 8 March 1862, Cumberland was on station in the James River. Its captain, William Radford, was not on board and Lt. George U. Morris was in command. That afternoon, Virginia steamed into Hampton Roads to attack the Union blockade. Virginia headed straight for Cumberland, determining that the federal ship's rifled guns made it the most dangerous adversary of the blockading ships. The ironclad shrugged off Cumberland's fire and rammed a hole into the sloop. Lt. Morris later described the attack:
Virginia stood down toward us. We opened fire on her; she stood on and struck us under the starboard for channels; she delivered her fire at the same time; the destruction was great. . . at 3:35 p.m. the water had risen to the main hatchway, and the ship canted to port; we delivered a parting fire, each man trying to save himself by jumping overboard. . .all the wounded who could walk were ordered out. . . but those of the wounded who had been carried to the sick bay were so mangled that it was impossible to save them.
Cumberland went down with colors flying. One-hundred-and twenty-one of its crew were killed in the battle."
Military Historical Center
"USS Congress, a 1,867-ton sailing frigate, was built between 1839 and 1842 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine. Commissioned in May 1842, she made a Mediterranean cruise in that year and into 1843, then served off the South American east coast until early 1845. After a refit, she was sent to become flagship of the Pacific Squadron, remaining there until mid-1848. During that cruise, Congress took an active role in the war with Mexico.
From June a850 until June 1853, the frigate served as flagship of the Brazil Squadron. Congress next deployed to the Mediterranean Sea for two years' duty as flagship, beginnig in June 1855 and concluding in November 1857. On her next assignment, from 1859 until mid-1861, she was again the Brazil Squadron flagship.
The outbreak of the Civil War brought Congress back to U. S. waters, where she spent her remaining days. She joined the blockade of the Confederacy's Atlantic coast in September 1861. On March 8, 1862, while anchored off Newport News, Virginia, USS Congress was attacked by the ironclad USS Virginia. After suffering heavy casualities in a one-sided action with an opponent that was virtually invulnerable to her guns, the veteran frigate was forced to surrender. She was subsequently destroyed by fire and the explosion of her powder magazine.
Naval Historical Center
8 MARCH 1862
At mid-day on 8 March 1862, CSS Virginia (formerly USS Merrimack, and persistently mis-identified by that name or as "Merrimac") steamed down the Elizabeth River from Norfolk and entered Hampton Roads. It was the newly converted ironclad's trial trip, a short voyage that would deeply influence naval opinion at home and abroad.
Anchored on the opposite side of Hampton Roads were five major Union warships " the frigate Congress and large sloop of war Cumberland off Newport News, and the frigates St. Lawrence, Minnesota and Roanoke a few miles to the east, off Fortress Monroe. All were powerful conventional wooden men-o'war. Minnesota and Roanoke, of the same type as the pre-war Merrimack, had auxiliary steam propulsion, but the other three were propelled by sails alone, and thus were at the mercy of wind conditions and the availability of tugs. As Virginia crossed the Roads, looking (as one witness described her) 'like the roof of a very big barn belching forth smoke as from a chimney on fire', the Union ships called their crews to quarters and prepared for action. Turning west, the Confederate ironclad shrugged off steady fire from ships and shore batteries as she steamed past the Congress. Firing her heavy cannon into both ships, she pushed her ram into Cumberland's starboard side. The stricken ship began to sink, though her gun crews kept up a heavy fire as she went down. In the words of one of Cumberland's enemies, 'No ship was ever fought more gallantly.'
Virginia backed clear, tearing off most of her iron ram, and slowly turned toward the Congress, which had gone aground while trying to get underway. Confederate gunners put several raking shells into the frigates hull, and maintained a relentless fire as they came alongside. After an hour's battle, in which Congress' crew suffered heavy casualties, she raised the white flag of surrender. As the Confederates began to take off her crew, several men on both sides were hit by gunfire from ashore, among them the Virginia's Commanding Officer, Captain Frankin Buchanan, who ordered Congress set afire with hot shot. She blazed into the night, exploding as the fire reached her powder magazines about two hours after midnight.
Virginia had meanwhile made a brief demonstration in the direction of the big steam frigate Minnesota, which had also gone aground. However, with the day's light about to fade, the ironclad turned back toward the southern side of Hampton Roads and anchored. Though two of her guns had their muzzles shot off and most external fittings were swept away or rendered useless, she had dramatically demonstrated the horrible vulnerability of unarmored wooden warships when confronted with a hostile ironclad, and was still battleworthy. Her casualties, less than two dozen, were removed and command passed from the injured Buchanan to Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones, who would take the Virginia out the next day to deal with the Minnesota.
Naval Historical Center

On January 11, 1862, the Burnside Expedition left Fort Monroe, Virginia destined for Hatteras Inlet 120 miles to the south. Two days later, the fleet of over eighty vessels was struck by a strong Northeaster while crossing Hatteras Bar. Reassembling the fleet in Pamlico Sound was delayed until the month's end due to frequently stormy weather. Among the ships lost were the Pocahontas, Grapeshot, and City of New York. The following Regiments were transported by the fleet: the 8th, 10th and 11th Connecticut; the 21st, 23rd, 24th, 25th and 27th Massachusetts; the 6th New Hampshire; the 9th New Jersey; the 1st, 9th, 51st, 89th and 99th New York; the 48th and 51st Pennsylvania; and the 1st, 4th and 5th Rhode Island.
On February 7, 1862, a hundred vessel Union flotilla steamed down Coratan Sound to land an amphibious force on Roanoke Island after destroying a small Confederate fleet in Albemarle and Pamlico SOunds. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside led 15,000 U. S. Army troops whlie Flag Officer Louis M> Goldsborough commanded the naval contingent. By capturing the island, the Federals would have a base from which to attack Confederates in North Carolina from the sea. About 3,000 COnfederate soldiers under Col. Henry M. Shaw opposed the landing, and Flag Officer William F. Lynch's three-gun battery and seven gunboats supported them. Three forts stood on the northwestern part of the twelve-mile-long island, but were not positioned so they could help. Lynch led his gunboats out against the Federal fleet, but Goldsborough defeated them and landed the Union troops at Ashby's Harbor. By midnight, the Federals occupied the beach, and at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, they set off in pursuit of the Confederates, who were retreating north. About halfway up the island, Burnside's men encountered the battery and a force of 1,500 but soon outflanked them. The Confederates retreated once again, then surrendered near the northern tip of Roanoke Island.
Burnside next turned his attention to New Bern. Confederate Gen. Lawrence O'B. Branch, commanding an inadequate number of troops there, decided to defend the city in fortifications located about six miles downriver on March 13 and began marching toward New Bern. By then, Branch had redeployed his force closer to the city, and the men braced for attack, which began the next morning. Although the Confederates held off the Federals for several hours, eventually the center of teh defense collapsed, and Branch's men retreated. Some crossed the Trent River into New Bern and burned the bridge behind them, but Union gunboats shelled them. Realizing his position was untenable, Branch withdrew his men by rail men by rail to Kinston. Burnside's force occupied New Bern the next day, and the city remained in Federal hands until the end of the war. COnfederate Gen. George E. Pickett attempted to recapture it in 1864 but failed. Burnside went on to take Beaufort and Fort Macon, for which he was promoted om March 18.

Hatteras Inlet, defended by Forts Clarka nd Hatteras, was a strategic port of entry for troops and supplies, providing deep water access to the vital intercoastal waterway. In late May of 1861, the Federal Blockade Board of Strategy began implementing General Winfield Scott's "Anaconda Plan," intending to constrict the South's warfare capacity. Initially, they regarded the ". . . sterile, half drowned shores of North Carolina" as unimportant; less than one month later the acknowledged this same coast as being ". . . the most dangerous stretch of shore in the whole Confederacy." All along the coast, lighthouses were "blacked out," channel buoys were sunk, and forts were constructed to defend navigable inlets.
After North Carolina joined the Confederacy, Hatteras became a principal port of privateering. With Cape Hatteras Lighthouse serving as a lookout tower, privateers freely passed through Hatteras Inlet taking dozens of ships and millions of dollars in cargo. Once more, the distinction between pirating and privateering became vague and depended upon the allegiance of the individual. Northern losses were so great, the nation's largest maritime insurance companies demanded the destruction of the "nest of pirates" and smugglers at Hatteras. In response to corporate and public outcry, and in desperate need of an easy victory the first joint military operation of the war was authorized by the U. S. Navy. Hatteras and its defenses fell on August 29, 1861 after two days of naval bombardment.


General Burnside's forces captured Roanoke Island in February 8, 1862. In quick succession, thirteen counties and over thirty cities and towns were annexed including: New Bern, Plymouth, Beaufort, Edenton, Elizabeth City and Washington. By July of 1862 the Confederal COastal supply line from the Deep SOuth to Virginia was seriously compromised. The events underscored the inability of the Confederacy to set priorities and the failure of the Federal leadership to recognized the fierce potential of their coastal conquest. The loss of the Outer Banks undermined Southern moraleand boosted that of the North. It intensified the secession controversy and the conflict between the Confederate government and North Carolina.


January 15, 1862--The Graveyard of the Atlantic claims the lives of Colonel J. W. Allen and Surgeon Welles, officers of the 9th N. J. Volunteers, and the second mate of the Ann E. Thompson.

Dec. 31, 1862--USS Monitor: N. K. Atwater, G. Fredrickson, R. W. Hands, S. A> Lewis, W. Allen, W. Bryan, R. Cook, W. H. Eagan, J. R. Fenwick, R. H. Howard, T. Joyce, G. Littlefield, D. Moore, J. Nicklis, J. Stocking, R. Williams.

USS Rhode Island: H. Logan, C. H. Smith

Jan. 17, 1864--1st N. C. Infantry: R. G. Casey, D. W. Farrow, J. J. Farrow, N. F. Jennette

Over 600 perished with the losses of the Governor (Oct. 31, 1861), USS Bainbridge (Aug 21, 1863) and General Lyon (Mar 31, 1865)

". . . The white line of the running surf goes booming down the beach,

But I shall never see them, though the land lies close abroad,

I've shaped the last long silent silent tack as takes one to the Lord."

==John Masefield

The Beach at Cape Hatteras

In 1837, the federal government sent Lieutenant Napoleon L. Coste of the revenue cutter Campbell to examine the coastline for potential lighthouse sites that would supplement the existing one at Cape Hatteras. Coste determined that south-bound ships were in great need of abeacon on or near Bodie Island, by which they could fix their position for navigating the dangerous Cape. He punctuated his recommendation with the statement than "more vessels are lost there than on any other part of our coast."
Congress responded with an appropriation for a lighthouse that same year, but complications over purchasing the necessary land delayed construction until 1847. This was but the first of many problems. Though the skillfill Francis Gibbons was contracted as engineer, the project's overseer was a former Customs official named Thomas Blount, who unfortunately had no lighthouse experience at all. This proved disasterous when Blount ordered an unsupported brick foundation laid, despite Gibbons' recommendations to the contrary. As a result, the 54-foot tower began to lean within two years after completion. Numerous expensive repairs failed to rectify the problem and the lighthouse had to be abandoned in 1859.

The second lighthouse fared little better than its wobbly predecessor. Though funded, contracted, and completed in prompt fashion at a nearby site in 1859, it soon succumbed to an unforeseen danger: the Civil War. Fearing that the 80-foot tower would be used by union forces as an observation post, retreating Confederate troops blew it up in 1861. After the war, the cast near Bodie Island remained dark for several years while a replacement tower was considered by the Lighthouse Board. Though the Board was disposed against the idea, numerous petitions came in from concerned ship captains, and finally it decided in favor of a third Bodie Island Lighthouse. Still, it was not until 1871 that construction began. The first two "Bodie Island" Lights had been located south of Oregon Inlet, actually on Pea Island. The new 15-acre site, purchased by the government for $150,000 from John Etheridge, was north of teh inlet. Work crews, equipment, and materials from the recent lighthouse project at Cape Hatteras were used to build necessary loading docks, dwelling and facilities. Govenrment contracts brought bricks from Baltimore firms, and ironwork from a New York foundry. COnstruction of the tower proceeded smoothly, and it first exhibited its light, magnified by a powerful First Order Fresnel Lens, on October 1, 1872. The keepers Quarters duplex was completed thereafter.
Early problems with flocks of geese crashing into the lens and improper grounding for electrical storms were quickly rectified with screening for the lanters and a lightning rod for the tower. There have been few other difficulties with the lighthouse itself since the completion. From the keeper's perspective, however, there remained the problem of isolation. Bodie Island was completely undeveloped, and the closest school was in MAnteo on neighboring Roanoke Island (accessible only by boat). This meant that the keeper's wife and children lived away from the lighthouse except during the summer months, making for a lonely and trying family life most of the year. Such situations, of course, were quite common in teh Lighthouse Service. Eventually, progress enabled school buses to reach the island, and the families were able to live with the keepers. The light was electrified in 1932, which ended the need for an on-site keeper. Finally, all of the light station's property except the tower itself were transferred to the National Park Service in 1953. The Kepper's duplex has since undergone two historic restorations, the last having been completed in MAy 1992. The building now serves as a ranger office and visitor center for Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Still a functioning U. S. Coast Guard navigational aid, the tower remains closed to the public.


Height: 156 feet
Height of Stripes: 22 feet
Stairs: 214
Light Pattern: 2.5 seconds on, 2.5 off, 2.5 on, 22.5 off
Beam Range: 19 miles
Ownership: transferred from US Coast Guard to the National Park Service in 2000

National Park Service


The Bodie Island Lighthose is located eight miles south of US 158 and the US 64 intersection. It is 165 feet high, and horizontally striped.

There are 214 steps to the lantern room; however, the lighthouse needs restorations, and the tower is not open for climbing.

The flash characteristic remains 2.5 seconds on, 2.5 seconds off, 2.5 seconds on and 22.5 seconds eclipse per minute.

Bodie Island originally was spelled "Body" or "Body's" Island. The name appears in all forms possible, including "Bodie's" Island in U.S. Lighthouse Service documents.

Fresh water was gathered from rain running down eaves on the Keeper's Quarters to two cisterns.

Volunteers from the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society occasionally open the tower's lower portion during the summer.

Bodie Island's Principal Keeper Vernon Gaskill, Sr., and Assistant Keeper Julian Austin, Sr. were two of the last civilian era Keepers of the U. S. Lighthouse Service. Gaskill transferred to the lighthouse depot in Coinjock and Austin closed the lighthouse in 1940, ending the Lighthouse Service era at Bodie Island. Like other coastal lights, it became a lookout tower for the Navy during World War II.

During the 1920's the Bureau of Lighthouses installed a sensor near the lamp's flame. If something went wrong with the flame, a "call bell" sounded in the Keepers Quarters,

Our hotel was in Kill Devil Hills, and from our balcony we had a wonderful view of the ocean. One morning I was awake early and saw a beautiful sunrise.

The weather was cold and the first couple days had been rainy and windy and the ocean had been really rough and angry, but beautiful. You could actually hear the wind howl. On this morning it was much calmer.

No matter which way you looked from our balcony there was a beautiful sight.

This particular morning the sky was all pink and purple and just so beautiful. The entire site was so calming and serene.

We were even able to watch dolphins playing in the water in the morning. There were lots of them, which I found surprising. I guess I thiought dolphins migrated to the south like birds do in the winter.

From our balcony we had this beautiful view of the ocean and when you went out the door there was a fabulous viel of the Wright Brothers Memorial. At night it was lit up and so pretty. We tried to get pictures of the Memorial at night but jsut could not get it to work. Actually, teh pictures we got of the Memorial during the day weren't all that great, but the ocean pictures were fabulous.

As mI said earlier, we did not get too many good picturs of the Wright Brothers memorial and I got some off the Internet. We had not taken any pictures at all of the sign, so I found this one on line.

I also found this one on line and thought it was really a good view of the Memorial. It had to have been taken from an airplane or helicopter as there is nothing around the Memorial to enable a picture like this. This memorial sits on the top of a hill and the day we were there it was cold and windy and we did not walk to the top of the hill.

The Wright Brothers Memorial is located in Kill Devil Hills, and commerates the first successful, sustained powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine. From 1900 to 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright came to Kill Devil Hills from Ohio, based on information from the U.S. Weather Bureau about the area's steady winds. They also valued the privacy provided by the location, which in the early twentieth century was remote from major population centers.

The Wrights made four flights from level ground near the base of the hill on December 17, 1903, following three years of gliding experiments from atop this and other nearby sand dunes. It is possible to walk along the actual routes four flights, with small monuments marking their starts and finishes. Two wooden sheds, based on hisotoric photographs, recreate the world's first airplane hangar and the brothers' living quarters. What I found really amazing, and something that I had never really thought about before, from the first airplane flight in 1903 until the first time we walked on the moon in 1968 was only 65 years. Amazing!!

The Memorial Tower is a 60-foot granite monument, dedicated in 1932 and perched atop a 90-foot-tall Kill Devil Hill, commemorating the achievement of the Wright Brothers. They conducted many of their glider tests on teh massive shifting dune that was later stabilized to form Kill Devil Hill. INscribed in capital letters along the base of the memorial is the phrase "In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright conceived by genius achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith." Atop the tower is a marine beacon, similar to one found in a lighthouse, that was installed to make the monument more functional.

The tower was designed by Rodgers and Poor, a New York architectural firm; the design was officially selected on February 14, 1930. Prior to the memorial's construction , the War Department selected Captain William H. Kindervater of the Quartermaster Corps to prepare the site for construction and to manage the area landscaping. To secure the sandy foundation, Captain Kindervater selected bermuda grass to be planted on Kill Devil Hill and the surrounding area. He also ordered a special fertilizer to be spread throughout the area to promote grass and shrubbery growth and decided to build a fence to prevent animal grazing. With a strong foundation in place, the Office of the Quartermaster selected Marine Captain John A. Gilman to preside over the construction project. Construction began in October 1931 and with a budget of $213,000 the memorial was completed in November 1932. In the end, 1,200 tons of granite, more than 2,000 tons of gravel, more than 800 tons of sand and almost 400 tons of cement were used to build the structure, along with numerous other materials.

November 14, 1932 was selected as the dedication day; over 20,000 people were expected to attend, but only about 1,000 actually came to the event, which was held on a stormy, windy day. Orville Wright was the main guest of honor at the ceremony and aviator Ruth Nichols was given the privilege of removing the American flag the covered the word "genius" and the plaque on the monument. President Herbert Hoover was unable to attend the ceremony, however a letter from the President was read prior to the dedication.

The hill that the monument sits on offers great views of the surrounding area.

Authorized as Kill Devil Hill Monument on March 2, 1927, it was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933. Congress renamed it and designated it a national memorial on December 4, 1953. As with all historic areas administered by the National Park Service, the national memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. The memorial's visitor center, designated by Ehrman Mitchell and Romaldo Giurgola, was designated a National Historic Landmark on January 3, 2001. The memorial is co-managed with two other Outer Banks parks, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

This is the marker commemerating the first flight. "End of 1st FLight--Time 12 Seconds--Distance 120 feet--Dec. 17, 1903--Pilot Orville Wright

End of 2nd flight--Time about 12 seconds--Distance about 175 feet--Dec. 17, 1903--Pilot Wilbur Wright

End of the 3rd flight--Time 15 seconds--Distance about 200 feet--Dec. 17, 1903--Pilot Orville Wright

End of 4th flight--Time 59 seconds--Distance 852 feet--Dec. 17, 1903--Pilot Wilbur Wright

The Currituck Beach Light Station, located in Corolla, is the Northernmost Lighthouse of the Outer Banks. It is the only Light Station of the Outer Banks that is natural brick in color. From these pictures it is easy to see that South Carolina is not the only place that has "Carolina Blue Skies"
On December 1, 1875 the beacon of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse filled the remaining "dark spot" on the Norht Carolina coast between Cape Henry Light to the north and Bodie Island to the south. To distinguish the Currituck Beach Lighthouse from other regional lighthouses, its exterior remains unpainted and gives today's visitor a asense of the multitude of bricks used to form the structure. The lighthouse was automated in 1939 when the United States Coast Guard assumed the duties of the Bureau of Lighthouses. At a height of 158 feet, the night beacon still flashes at 20-second intervals to warn ships hugging the chain of barrier islands along the coast.

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is known as a first order lighthouse, which means it has the largest of seven Fresnel lens sizes. The original source of light was a U.S. mineral oil lamp consisting of five concentric wicks: the largest was 4 inches in diameter. Before the advent of electricity, a mechanical means was required to rotate the huge lenses that made the light appear to flash. A system of weights suspended from a line poewered a clockwork mechanism beneath the lantern--much like the workings of a grandfather clock. The keeper cranked the weights up by hand every two and a half hours.
Like other lighthouses on North Carolina's Outer Banks, this one still serves as an aid to navigation. The beacon comes on automatically every evening at dusk and ceases at dawn. With a 20-second flash cycle (on for 3 seconds, off for 17 seconds) the light can be seen for 18 nautical miles. The distinctive sequence enables the lighthouse not only to warn mariners but also to help identify their locations. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse was the last major brick lighthouse built on the Outer Banks.

As it had reported in previous years, the U.S. Lighthosue Board in 1872 stated that ships, cargoes and lives continued to be lost along the 40 miles of dark coastline that lay beyond the reaches of existing lighthouses. Southbound ships sailing closer to shore to avoid the Gulf Stream were especially in danger. In response, construction began on teh Currituck Beach Lighthouse in 1873 with completion two years later.

Number of steps: 214
Height to focal plane of len s: 158 feet
Height to top of roof: 162 feet
Number of Bricks: approximately one million
Thickness of wall at base: 5 feet 8 inches
Thickness of wall at parapet: 3 feet

32 1/2 miles north-northwest of the Bodie Island Lighthouse

The lighthouse Keepers' House, a Victorian "stick style" dwelling, was constructed from pre-cut and labeled materials which were shipped by the U.S. Lighthouse Board on a baarge and then assembled on site. In 1876, when the Keepers' House was completed, two keepers and their families shared the duplex in the isolated seaside setting. The keepers were removed after the Lighthouse was automated and attendants were no longer needed to clean the lenses, trim the wicks, fuel the lamp, and wind the clock mechanism which rotated the beacon.

By the late 1970's the Lighthouse Keepers' House stood open to the elements with no windows or doors; porches had decayed and vines invaded the north side. Much of the interior millwork had been vandalized. Concerned about the preservation of the historic property, Outer Banks Conservationists, Inc., a private non-private organization dedicated to the conservation of the character of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, signed a lease with the State of North Carolina in 1980 to begin a phased restoration of the property. The lease charged the group with the responsibility of restoring the Keepers' House and improving the historic compound.
Today, the grounds and walkways are rejuvenated and the exterior of the Keepers' HOuse is nearly complete, but the phased restoration of the interior remains a considerable undertaking. Although plaster walls and pine floors have been repaired, vandalized wainscoting replaced, and the mahogany balustrades replicated. reproduction doors and hardware must be made and installed, and the interior finishes installed.

Our next stop was the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, where we were welcomed by "Sandy Claws". This is one of three state operated aquariums located along the coast. It boasts the largest aquarium in the state--a 285,000-gallon ocean tank with sharks, sea turtles and hundreds of fish.

This is a canebrake rattlesnake. . .

who didn't appear to want his picture taken.

The exhibits were well built and the upkeep on them was very good. They were very realistic and attractive.

I love sea otters. When we first went into the aquarium the otters were not out in the exhibit. The staff was putting snacks out in various areas of the exhibit. The snacks looked like those dried banana chips. The put them all over the exhibit.

Finally the otters came out. There were four or five of them, and they ran right to all the snack hiding places. There were snacks hidden in wooden branches, nook in the wall and any flat space, hole or cranny they could find. The otters found all the snacks in no time flat.

I had noticed these water bottles floating in the pool, and thought they were just something to occupy the otters when they were swimming. After they found all the snacks the otters jumped in the water and headed for the bottles. They kept trying to turn them up so they would empty out.

I finally realized the bottles had goldfish in them and if the otters could get the goldfish out of the bottles they had another snack. The otters pushed the bottles and jumped on them and did everything they could to get the fish out, and did a good job of having lots of snacks.

The next exhibit was turtles. There were tons of them. Some were swimming and some were on the rocks.

I'm sure there were different kinds of turtles, and there were all sizes from very small to fairly large.

They really didn't seem to mind when you went right up to the glass and took pictures. They almost appeared to pose for you.

There were alligators "basking" in the sun.

If you look close you can see this alligator in the water. All that was visible were his eyes.

This is the alligator from the previous picture from another angle.

This shows a flounder hiding in the sand. We watched him swim around and then hide himself. The seem to change color so they blend in with the surroundings.

We saw shrimp.

There were lots of shrimp and it was fun to watch them walking around.

The seahorses always amaze me. I love to watch them swimming around.

At first we didn;t think this eel was real, but when he moved and opened his mouth we changed our minds.

He seemed to look right at us.

I wonder what kind of damage he would have done had he been able to get hold of someone???

This lobster was huge, and there was an even bugger on up on the rocks behind this one.

This is a blurry picture of sting rays swimming under water.

Like flounder, sting rays also hide under the sand.

The sting rays also would come ot the side of the touch tank and come up out of the water. They would slap the water with their "wings". I must say, though, I was not as brave as my granddaughter, Clara, is. I did not touch them.

Another touch tank had hermit crabs. . .

sea anemone. . .

star fish. . .

and even sea urchins.

In the large tank they had several sharks, two of which had to have been between 8 and 10 feet long.

As he swam toward us he opened his mouth and we could actually see all of his teeth. Amazing!!

There were three or four people in the tank doing maintenance--vacuuming, cleaning, etc. When I saw the sharks I thought there was no way in the world they'd get me to do this.

In the same tank as the sharks were lots of other fish too, some of which were fairly large. I am sure some of them bite too. I don't think I would want to be the person cleaning the tank with all these fish.

And here is one last picture of one of the sharks. They were really some of hte largest sharks I had ever seen in an aquarium.

"In the years to come, as islanders mingle with visitors along the Manteo waterfront, let us remember that on this spot, where so many vessels have been built and launched, dreams still light the way. For how else can you explain how a lighthouse now casts its reassuring beam into the night sky, where the Town's wastewater treatment plant once stood? Safeguading the environment, honoring our past, and dreaming of a brighter future is Manteo's shining path".
--From a letter by Mayor John Wilson regarding the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse dedication ceremony September 25, 2004
The information under the pictures about the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse are from Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse Facts, by Celeste Stroh and Melody Leckie and the Town of Manteo:
As part of a continuing effort to make the sounds of North Carolina easier and safer for mariners to navigate, the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse was built to mark the narrow channel thant connects the Pamlico and Croatan SOunds. The construction of the lighhouse was completed and it was put inot service in 1831. It wasn't long until the existence of teh lighthouse was threatened though. A local property owner claimed that the government built the lighthouse on private property without having permission to build there. A lawsuit was later filed and the government decided to discontinue the use of the lighthouse in 1839.

Once again, the area was without a major aid to navigation. The local communities began partitioning the Lighthouse Board for a new lighthouse to mark the shipping channel, but it wasn't until 1857 that construction began. The new lighthouse was completed in 1858, and on April 15th, the lamps were lit. The hexagonalcrew-pile style lighthouse stood atop seven metal screw-piles that were literally screwed into the muddy bottom of hte sound. The lighthouse was fitted with a fourth-order Fresnel lens and produced a fixed white light that couls be seen up to eleven miles. After a few years passed, it was realized that the water in which the lighthouse stood was getting deeper. Originally constructed in four feet of water, the water level rose to a depth of thirteen feet, causing the lighthouse to flood. The rise in water also resulted in worm damage to the structure. Authorities determined that another lighthouse was needed.

In 1876, crews went to work constructing the new lighthouse. A year later, in 1877, construction was completed at a new location approximately one hundred yards from the previous lighthouse. The square screw-pile lighthouse was also fitted with a fourth-order Fresnel lens and shown a fixed red light.
Throughout its years of service, the light station underwent several renovations. During these renovations, the nighttime characteristic and the day-mark of the station changed in an attempt to more effectively mark the channel. The lighthouse was in service until 1955, when it was decommissioned. A Mr. Wiggins, who planned to move the structure to private property, purchased the lighthouse. The lighthouse was cut from its pilings and placed on a barge. But before it could be moved, the lighthouse fell into the sound where it remains today.
The town of Manteo has taken on the task of reconstructing an exact replica of the 1877 lighthouse. The lighthouse will not be used as a navigation aid, but a fourth-order lens has been loaned to the North Carolina Maritime Museum and has been installed into the replica's lantern room. The replica was officially dedicated and opened to the public on September 25, 2004.
This is the city of Roanoke from the Manteo pier. This entire area is so beautiful. There is water n both sides--the Atlantic ocean on one side and the Sound on the other.

Dedicated to the memory of Alpheus W. Drinkwater 1875-1962
Weatherman, Telegrapher, Wreck Commissioner
The U.S. Weather Bureau once used Coastal Warning Display towers such as this one to fly signal flags to warn mariners of wind shifts or approaching storms. On November 10, 1904, the Weather Bureau established the Manteo Weather Station with Alpheus W. Drinkwater in charge. The Manteo Chamber of Commerce requested the the bureau be given permission to place a tower on teh grounds of the Dare County Courthouse.
SInce weather news was transmitted by telegraph, Drinkwater, in his role as telegraph operator, was a logical choice for weatherman. He also is noted for sending news of the Wright Brothers' flight tests to news agencies across the country.
Beyond the symbolic colors and shapes that foretold a rainy day or a flood tide on a northwesterly wind, weather flags, when flown in various combinations of shapes and colors, signaled that it was time to take in the laundry or to set the fishing nets, part of everyday life in the town. At night, two red and one whote signal lights flashed storm warnings.
The tower was later moved near its present location on the waterfront, and then to Drinkwater's home on Ananias Dare (old Main) Street. Upon inquiry by the Manteo Board of Commissioners, the John Booth family gave permission for the tower to be moved to town property, and provided the original signal lights.
In 2005, the Town of Manteo had the tower refurbished and moved to this site so that weather signal flags could once again fly on teh Manteo waterfront. The Manteo Weather Tower is believed to be one of only five towers still in use, and may be the only one with all its original signal lights affixed.

The Manteo Weather Tower

This sign tells the meaning of the various combinations and colors of flags.

The flag signals, from left to right, top to bottom, have the following meanings: Fair weather; Chance of rain; NE Storm Warning; SE storm warning; Temperature change; rain; gale warning; hurricane warning; cold front; small craft warning; SW storm warning; and NW storm warning. When we were there a small craft warning was in effect.

And finally, we drove to SOuthern Pines, North Carolina and visited my Dad.

Dad is 94 years old and lives in St. Joseph in the Pines Assisted Living.

He is very hard of hearing, and may not remember everything, but he does pretty good. He still does everything for himself and gets around with his walker pretty well.

I think we have pictures every six months for the last three or four years with him sitting in this same chair.

Why Michael felt it was necessary to take pictures of our backside I have no idea, but as you can see, Dad gets around.

This is "Blue", teh therapy dog. He visits every Wednesday. Dad has had his picture taken with Blue and keeps it in his room.

When we were leaving Dad walked us to the door. He uses his walker all the time, and also takes his cane with him everywhere.

For 94--95 in May I don't think he does bad. I think he is amazed he has lived so long, and insists he doesn't have an ache or a pain. He says he would like to live to be 100. Maybe he will.


The Stein Family said...

Grandpa's hair's getting long -- lookin' like a hippie!
cool pregnancy calendar thing!
Love ya

The Stein Family said...

Oh and BTW -- Clara said she'd take you to our zoo this summer and help you not be scared to touch the stingrays!

britney said...

nice post and thanks for sharing...
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