Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Ocracoke in the Early 20th Century

From Chapter IX, "The Early 20th Century in Washington [NC]" in the 1976 book, Washington and the Pamlico, Ursula Fogleman Loy & Pauline Marion Worthy, editors:

"During the summer months the Old Dominion Steamers, Hatteras and Ocracoke, as well as several sailboats made regular trips to Ocracoke, usually leaving about seven o'clock Saturday nights and arriving at Ocracoke early Sunday morning. They were loaded with vacationers and passengers from Washington, Greenville, Rocky Mount, Williamston, Kinston and other places.

Photo Courtesy Ellen Cloud

"Ocracoke Island in those days was very much more interesting, exciting and pleasurable than today. It had three very good hotels and many boarding houses, which served excellent homecooked food, especially freshly caught seafood, including large bedded oysters, scallops, shrimp and all kinds of fish. Their oyster and clam fritters were simply out of this world, also their hushpuppies.

"People would inhale the fresh salt air and feel a sense of freedom soon after arrival. They would fish and swim in the daytime and square dance every night. To say they all, including children, enjoyed it, and —a big time was had by all— is putting it mildly.

"The island was crude and undeveloped, the natives were friendly and would go out of their way for everyone to have a good time. They had a brogue peculiar to the coast and the sea, which the visitors loved, but could rarely imitate or impersonate."

Actually, in many ways Ocracoke is not so different today!

For more information about steamships and Ocracoke, click here.

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Aleta, Ocracoke's mailboat from 1944-1952, compliments of the Core Sound Museum. Click on the following link for photos, text, and audio recordings about this iconic vessel: http://www.coresound.com/saltwaterconnections/portlight/aleta/


  1. Anonymous7:49 AM

    "Crude and undeveloped.." goodness, does this mean people had to walk from place to place along unpaved roads? Was this like TV's Walton Mountain only next to the ocean and populated by a constant stream of vacationers? Crude and undeveloped-- it was not a Chatauqua or a summer camp with structured activities designed to build skills of the Humanities . It was like Las Vegas perhaps, entertainment, restuarants, a casino, but by the ocean with outdoor activities. I am trying to picture a less developed OI without cars, golf carts, and sunscreen and High Rise hotels. Crude and undeveloped-- no indoor plumbing, free range chickens, no shopping, no outlet malls no fancy bakeries or coffee shops was that it? " Not so different today.." certainly you mean a new generation visits to experience the raw beauty of the OBX and returns with a iphone and a prettier instagram account.

  2. Anonymous5:33 PM

    Philip, I have a aerial photo taken in the early 50's. Since it has crosshairs in the corners I am assuming that is either something commercial or connected to the military. It is taken directly over the coast guard station with their boats tied up. There are a lot of long gone buildings in the picture-then you see a float plane tied up and pulled up on a sandy area next to the CG ships. Have you ever seen a float plane in the harbor? I am sure they landed and took off from the harbor since this is smooth water...

    1. The last time I saw a float plane in Silver Lake was in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

  3. Anonymous12:47 PM

    interesting...like above, I wonder if the landed in silverlake or the sound?
    (it's always interesting here! thanks)