“The Blue Book says we gotta go out, don’t say nothin’ ‘bout coming back.” — US LIFESAVING SERVICE MOTTO

Living on the edge, between sand and surf, wind and waves, between lookout stations and shipwrecks … living in a place where weather rules, geography dictates and strong men and women are born and grow resilient. That’s what the history of the Outer Banks is made of.

Despite the notion that these communities were isolated, the area was the setting for many events of national and international significance. In addition to German U-boats hunting and torpedoing Allied vessels during World War II, Civil War battles were waged here, early radio communications took place here, military aviation took a giant step forward and great storms exacted heavy tolls on ships and communities alike.

Take some time to explore the lighthouses, museums and many historic markers that reverently tell the tales of the heroic figures who kept our shores safe in times of peace as well as in times of war. Their stories live on from generation to generation and we are proud to share them.
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    Fort Ocracoke Monument

    The inscription on this large granite marker tells the story of Confederate Fort Ocracoke and also honors the men from Ocracoke Island and Portsmouth Island who served in both the Confederate and Union Armed Forces during the Civil War. Fort Ocracoke, a Confederate fortification constructed at the beginning of the American Civil War, was situated […]

    South end of Village, Ocracoke, NC
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    British Cemetery

    In the early years of World War II, the U.S. Navy was ill-prepared for the German U-Boat threat prowling off the Atlantic coast. Merchant ships from various nations running along the eastern seaboard were constantly harassed and sunk by the German submarines. The U.S. Navy had no ships suited to anti-submarine patrol. Britain offered assistance, […]

    234-384 British Cemetery Rd Ocracoke, NC
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    Ocracoke Lighthouse

    In 1822, for a charge of $50, the federal government purchased two acres at the south end of Ocracoke Island as the site for a new lighthouse. Constructed by Massachusetts builder Noah Porter and finished in 1823, the tower still stands today. Total cost, including the one story, one bedroom keeper’s house, was $11,359, far […]

    Lighthouse Road Ocracoke, NC
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    Teach’s Hole

    Teach’s Hole is an educational exhibit about Blackbeard the pirate. The exhibit features the history of Blackbeard, old weapons, medical equipment, ship models, knot tying, art, videos and a life-like figure of Blackbeard. We are a recipient of the “Best of the Road” award from Rand McNally.

    935 Irvin Garrish Hwy, Ocracoke NC
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    Loop Shack Hill Memorial

    In 1943, Ocracoke hosted an advanced amphibious training base where tactical cover and deception units, precursors to the Navy Seals, were trained for the U.S. Navy covert operations in World War II. This undercover military project was known as the Beach Jumpers. These tactical cover and deception units also monitored hidden German submarine activity off […]

    Irvin Garrish Highway, East of the Village. Ocracoke, NC
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    Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

    More than 2,000 shipwrecks lie off North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The dangerous mix of severe weather, shallow waters, and strong currents earn the area the nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” Exhibits tell the stories of the USS Monitor, the Civil War, pirates, the U-85, lighthouses and the U.S. Life Saving Service, shipwrecks, heroic rescues, and […]

    59200 Museum Drive Hatteras, NC
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    Hotel D’Afrique Monument

    In August of 1861, Union forces defeated Confederate troops at Hatteras Inlet and at Forts Clark and Hatteras. Word of this victory spread quickly and hundreds of former enslaved people escaped from mainland regions of North Carolina and Roanoke Island to freedom on Hatteras Island. In the newly formed safe haven, slaves received food and […]

    59200 Museum Drive Hatteras, NC
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    Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - With Audio

    The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse protects one of the most hazardous sections of the Atlantic Coast. Offshore of Cape Hatteras, the Gulf Stream collides with the Virginia Drift, a branch of the Labrador Current from Canada. This current forces southbound ships into a dangerous twelve-mile long sandbar called Diamond Shoals. Hundreds and possibly thousands of shipwrecks […]

    46379 Lighthouse Rd Buxton, NC
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    Bodie Island Lighthouse

    Tucked away between tall pine trees and freshwater marshland, the Bodie Island Light presents anything but a typical lighthouse setting. Though not as well-known as its neighbors, it remains an important part of local history and a favorite spot for visitors. And still every evening, amidst the water towers and blinking radio antennae of modern […]

    8210 Bodie Island Lighthouse Rd., Nags Head, NC