On The Outer Banks Of North Carolina

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia articles "Outer Banks" and "Ocracoke".

The Outer Banks

The Outer Banks consists of over a 100-mile (160-km) string of pristine beaches and narrow barrier islands on the East Coast of the United States. The Outer Banks form approximately the northern half of the state of North Carolina's Atlantic coastline, and wall off the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds from the Atlantic Ocean, known in this area as the Graveyard of the Atlantic because of the huge numbers of sunken ships offshore. The Outer Banks was the site of the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903 in what is now Kill Devil Hills, NC, at the Wright Brothers National Monument, also site of First Flight Airport. The Outer Banks are also the site where the unsuccessful British colony termed the Lost Colony [1] vanished without a trace from Roanoke Island in 1587, where the first Briton was born on American soil (Virginia Dare). The Outer Banks are now a major tourist destination known for temperate weather and wide expanses of open beachfront.

The northern part of the Outer Banks from Oregon Inlet northward is considered part of the North American mainland, although it is technically cut apart from the mainland by the Intracoastal Waterway passing through the Great Dismal Swamp, which occupies much of the mainland to the west of the Outer Banks. It is part of a continuous sand ridge extending well into the city of Virginia Beach, Virginia. For all practical purposes, it is a barrier island; there is no road access from Virginia through the ridge. Road access to the northern Outer Banks ends in Corolla, North Carolina with other communities such as Carova only being accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles. The island itself is not anchored to an offshore coral reef like some other barrier islands and suffers significant beach erosion during some severe storms known to locals as north-easters.

The position of the Outer Banks punching out into the Atlantic makes the area the most hurricane-prone area north of Florida, for both landfalling storms and brushing storms offshore. The easternmost point is Cape Point at Cape Hatteras on Hatteras Island, site of the famous candy-striped Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It is 208 feet tall and was moved inland away from the encroaching ocean in 1999. It weighs 4800 tons and was moved 2900 feet.

Outer Banks is popularly abbreviated OBX; Outer Banks residents petitioned their state representative Marc Basnight, who is also the North Carolina Senate President, to intervene on their behalf and have automobile license plates issued with the prefix OBX. This was done in 2001 and the plates OBX-0000 through OBX-9999 were soon exhausted. Locals protested and were rewarded with a new series beginning OBX10000 as NC plates are limited to only eight characters. These plates are only available to local residents. The natives are known as "Bankers". The area is also home to colonies of wild horses, known as "Banker Ponies", descended from Spanish Mustangs washed ashore centuries ago in shipwrecks. Noted colonies exist near Corolla and on Ocracoke Island, the home base of pirate Edward Teach also known as Blackbeard. Ocracoke Island is only accessible by ferry from the southern tip of Hatteras Island, although local shops sell bumperstickers that state "Hatteras-Ocracoke Tunnel Permit". Another popular sticker appears to be a legitimate handicapped parking permit, but it shows a person in a wheelchair on a surfboard with the caption "Surfing Impaired- Too Old, Too Fat, Don't Care".


Geography: The island of Ocracoke is part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It is the last inhabited island, from north to south, of the Outer Banks, and can only be reached by one of three public ferries (two of which are toll ferries), private boat, or private plane. Other than the village of Ocracoke and a few other areas (a campground, a pony pen, a small runway), the entire island is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. A single two lane road, NC 12, runs from the village at the southern end of the island to the ferry dock at the northern tip of the island, where a free ferry connects to Hatteras Island. The second ferry dock, located in the village, has toll connections to Swan Quarter, North Carolina on the mainland and Cedar Island, near Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Ocracoke Island Airport (FAA Identifier W95) is located slightly south-east of the village, allowing small aircraft to land.

The village of Ocracoke is located around a small sheltered harbor called Silver Lake, with a second smaller residential area built around a series of man-made canals called Oyster Creek. The village is located at the widest point of the island, protected from the Atlantic Ocean by sand dunes and a salt marsh. The average height of the island is less than five feet above sea level, and flooding is a problem during hurricanes and large storms, and many of the buildings on the island are built on pilings to lift them off the ground. The Ocracoke Lighthouse, one of North America's oldest lighthouses, is situated near Silver Lake.

Ocracoke village is located at 35°6′46″N, 75°58′33″W (35.112687, -75.975895)GR1. According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 24.9 km² (9.6 mi²). 24.8 km² (9.6 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (0.62%) is water.

Economy: The economy of Ocracoke Island almost entirely based around tourism. During the winter, the island has a permanent population of less than 800, and there are only a few businesses open. During the spring, summer and early fall, there are several thousand tourists living on the island in weekly rental houses, hotels and campgrounds, plus many more that come across the ferry from Hatteras Island for the day or to stay overnight. Several bars, dozens of restaurants, and many shops, stores and other tourist-based businesses open for the tourist season, and every single business on the island is independently owned and operated by residents. There are no chains or franchises, giving the island a unique character that is becoming increasingly rare.

Fishing is also a major part of the economy, including both commercial fishing and chartered sport fishing. With easy access to the Pamlico Sound, the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream, the Outer Banks area has a variety of different fishing options, from small Sound fish all the way up to tuna and drum.

During the winter, the island's only main employers are construction and the businesses that support the small local population. Most islanders use the winter as time off, since they tend to work between 60 and 80 hours a week during the tourist season.

History: Ocracoke was the site of Fort Ocracoke, a Confederate fort constructed at the beginning during the American Civil War. Fort Ocracoke was abandoned in August 1861 and destroyed by Union forces a month later.

Ocracoke Island was also a favorite anchorage of Edward Teach, better known as the pirate Blackbeard. He was killed in battle in Teach's Hole, a channel slightly west of the present location of Ocracoke village.

Demographics: As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 769 people, 370 households, and 219 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 31.1/km² (80.4/mi²). There were 784 housing units at an average density of 31.7/km² (82.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 96.10% White, 1.69% African American, 0.52% Native American, 0.26% Asian, 0.65% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.95% of the population.

There were 370 households out of which 17.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.8% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.8% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.55.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 13.0% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 34.6% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 96.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.0 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $34,315, and the median income for a family was $38,750. Males had a median income of $26,667 versus $25,625 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $18,032. About 7.7% of families and 9.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.8% of those under age 18 and 10.4% of those age 65 or over.


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