Oregon Inlet NC History

Oregon Inlet Outer Banks NC

If you happen to be coming to the Ocracoke Islands or the Hatteras from the northern side, you will come through the Oregon Inlet. Oregon Inlet separates the smaller islands of the southern side of Outer Banks from the Bodie Islands and the northern side of Outer Banks namely Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Manteo and Kitty Hawk and is perhaps the most traversed inlet on the entire collection of islands.

This breathtaking vision of open waters connecting the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean has always shifted and seemed a focal point of the history and local controversies that emerge. The inlet provides a very easy route for commercial fishermen, charter fishermen and also tourists who want to explore the beautiful waters out in the open.

The Oregon inlet, like all others, created when the Outer Banks was hit by a tremendous and quite violent hurricane in 1846. The hurricane created a huge watery gash between the Pea Island and Bodie Island. A ship named Oregon was caught between the Pamlico Sound during the storm and it was the sole witness of the formation of the inlet. After the storm passed, the crew headed to the Outer Banks and relayed the story of the creation of the new inlet and thus ever since the inlet has been referred to as the Oregon Inlet.

After less than four decades of its formation, the US Lifesaving Service (known later as the US Coast Guard) decided to build a lifesaving station on the Oregon Inlet as part of the project where they were required to erect lifesaving stations along the Outer Banks. 

Since the Oregon Inlet had easy access to the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, the Coast Guard thought of it as an ideal station that would enable rescue boats to travel to emergency spots easily and without delays. Although the rescue station was built in the year 1883, it was relocated just five years after because the inlet had variable geography and kept moving until the station itself became closer to falling down into the waters.

Even after its relocation, the station suffered an attack when a hurricane passed and demolished it to the ground. Another station was erected a little farther in the west and served a longer period of time. The Oregon Inlet served the US Coast Guard for many decades and was decommissioned and finally abandoned in 1988 as modern stations arrived and started their service. The Oregon Inlet and the 10 acres area that surrounded it was then turned over to Dare county.

For two decades the inlet was not noticed by anyone and was buried by piles of sand drifting over it. Dare County gave the inlet to the state in 2000 and it was finally assigned to North Carolina Aquariums.

In 2008, the station was raised onto pilings to be renovated and returned to its older glory. The renovations were completed in the year 2011 and today the North Carolina Aquariums are open for the visitors to Outer Banks.

(Photo by Wendy on Flickr)

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