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Ocracoke, North Carolina

Ocracoke, North Carolina
Ocracoke, North Carolina is located in North Carolina
Ocracoke, North Carolina
Location within the state of North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Hyde
 • Total 9.6 sq mi (24.9 km2)
 • Land 9.6 sq mi (24.8 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.2 km2)
Elevation 3 ft (1 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 948
 • Density 99/sq mi (38/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 27960
Area code(s) 252
FIPS code 37-48740[1]
GNIS feature ID 1021718[2]
Demonym Ococker

Ocracoke [3] is a census-designated place (CDP) and unincorporated town located at the southern end of Ocracoke Island, located entirely within Hyde County, North Carolina. The population was 948 as of the 2010 Census. As of 2014, Ocracoke's population was 591. It is the location of the pirate Blackbeard's death.[4][5][6][7][8]


  • History 1
    • Fort Ocracoke 1.1
  • Geography 2
  • Transportation 3
  • Economy 4
  • Music 5
  • Local dialect 6
  • Demographics 7
  • Public services 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


The Outer Banks area was occasionally visited by Algonquian-speaking Native Americans, but was never permanently settled. Ocracoke, then called Wokokkon,[9] was used as a subsistence hunting and fishing ground for the Hatterask Indians. Yaupon Tea or Black Drink, made from the dried leaves of the indigenous yaupon, a native holly, was used ceremonially by the Native Americans in the area. A small village on Hatteras Island is said to have had forty fighting men. The area was first described in detail by Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian navigator, in 1524. Verrazzano was unable to navigate the tortuous channels leading into the Pamlico Sound and assumed that China lay beyond the Outer Banks.[10][11]

Howard Street

In 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh's colony, in their ship the Tiger, in search of Roanoke Island collided with a sand bar in Ocracoke Inlet and were forced to land on the island for repairs.[12]

An attempt at an English settlement was tried at Roanoke Island in the late 16th century, but it failed. This effectively halted European settlement until 1663, when Carolina Colony was chartered by King Charles II. However, remote Ocracoke Island was not permanently settled until 1750, being a pirate haven at times before then. It was a favorite anchorage of Edward Teach, better known as the pirate Blackbeard. He was killed in November 1718. The grounds of what is now the Springer's Point Nature Preserve were said to be the pirate's favored hang-out during those days.[13]

Sand Dunes

Throughout the mid-to-late 18th century, the Island was home to a number of especially skilled schooner pilots, who could get smaller ships through the inlet to the Pamlico Sound. As population increased on the mainland, demand for transshipment of goods from ocean-going vessels increased. The population was listed as 139 in the 1800 census. Warehouses were built to hold goods off-loaded from larger ships offshore and then loaded onto smaller schooners to be delivered to plantations and towns along the mainland rivers.[14]

By the late 19th century, the shipping business was gone, and the United States Lifesaving Service became a major source of steady income for local men.[15] Fishing, including charters for tourists, became more important to the livelihood of the area.[16]

The Ocracoke Historic District, Ocracoke Light Station, and Salter-Battle Hunting and Fishing Lodge are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[17]

Fort Ocracoke

Fort Ocracoke

Fort Ocracoke, a Confederate fortification constructed at the beginning of the American Civil War, was situated on Beacon Island in Ocracoke Inlet, two miles to the west-southwest of Ocracoke village. The Confederates abandoned and partially destroyed the fort in August 1861 after Union victories on nearby Hatteras Island. Union forces razed it a month later. Beacon Island subsided beneath the waves of the inlet in the early 20th century. The remnants of Fort Ocracoke were located and identified in 1998.


Ocracoke Island

The island of Ocracoke is a part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It is one of the most remote islands in the Outer Banks, as it 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 ferry terminal, a pony pen, a small runway), the entire island is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.[18][19]

View of Ocracoke Lighthouse across Silver Lake

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 many of the buildings on the island are built on pilings to lift them off the ground. Flooding is a risk during both hurricanes and large storms. Ocracoke Lighthouse is situated near Silver Lake and has remained in continuous operation since 1823.[20]

British Cemetery

The island is also home to a British cemetery. During World War II, German submarines sank several British ships including the HMT Bedfordshire, and the bodies of British sailors were washed ashore.[21] They were buried in a cemetery on the island. A lease for the 2,290-square-foot (213 m2) plot, where a British flag flies at all times, was given to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for as long as the land remained a cemetery, and the small site officially became a British cemetery. The United States Coast Guard station on Ocracoke Island takes care of the property.[22] A memorial ceremony is held each year in May.[23]

Ocracoke village is located at (35.112687, -75.975895).[24] According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 9.6 square miles (25 km2), of which, 9.6 square miles (25 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.62%) is water.[25]


A single paved 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 40-minute long 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, North Carolina.

A passenger ferry operates across Ocracoke Inlet to the deserted village of Portsmouth, at the northern end of the Core Banks.

Ocracoke Island Airport (FAA Identifier W95) is located slightly south-east of the village, allowing small aircraft to land. The average commute time on the island is 3 minutes. The National Average is 25 minutes.


Sunset over Silver Lake Harbor

The economy of Ocracoke Island is based almost entirely on tourism.[26] During the winter, the population shrinks and only a few businesses remain open. During the spring, summer, and early fall, an influx of tourists occupy hotels, campgrounds and weekly rental houses — and day visitors arrive by ferry from Hatteras Island. Several bars, dozens of restaurants, and many shops, stores and other tourist-based businesses open for the tourist season.

Ocracoke Island Lighthouse

Commercial fishing contributes to the local economy with chartered sport fishing drawing tourism. With easy access to the Pamlico Sound, the Atlantic coast and the Gulf Stream, Ocracoke offers various fishing opportunities, from small Sound fish to tuna and drum.[27]

During the winter, the island's only main employers are construction, the NC Department of Transportation and the businesses that support the small population. Many islanders use the winter as time off, since they tend to work between 60 and 80 hours a week during the tourist season.[28][29]


Sunset over Silver Lake Harbor

Despite its small size, the island has a sizable music scene with a larger than normal percentage of its residents being musicians. The island hosts an annual Ocrafolk Festival featuring a weekend full of live performances. Besides the numerous restaurants which host live music, visitors and locals can attend the Ocrafolk Opry each Wednesday evening at the Deep Water Theater during the season, featuring a panoply of local musicians and special visiting guests. The only radio station licensed to a community in Hyde County, WOVV 90.1 FM has "Locals Only Beach" music blocks playing only the music of local bands. Several local stores carry cds produced by the island's musicians. Local musicians recently received national attention when they appeared performing in the movie Nights in Rodanthe. Notable local musical acts include The Ocracoke Rockers, Martin and Friends, Aaron Caswell Band, Toaster Oven, Molasses Creek, Baby Dee, Andrew and the Anchovies, Free Mustache Rides Again and Coyote. Other musical locals who left the island include Mya Rose and Ansley Wynn of Incognito Mosquito.[30]

Local dialect

Ocracoke Island historically had its own distinct dialect of English, often referred to as a brogue.[31] A characteristic phrase is "high tide," pronounced somewhat like "hoi toid", Due to the influx of tourists and greater contact with the mainland in recent years, however, the Ocracoke brogue has been increasingly influenced by outside dialects.[32]


As of 2010, there were 948 people residing in the CDP.[33][34] The population density as of 2000 was 80.4 people per square mile (31.1/km²). In 2000, There were 784 housing units at an average density of 82.0/sq mi (31.7/km²) in 2000. As of 2010, The racial makeup of the CDP was 78.1% White, 1.6% African American, 0.6% from two or more races, 0.4% from Native American, and 0.2% Asian. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19.1% of the population.[33][34]

Ocracoke School

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 composed 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.

Ocracoke Airport

Public services

Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department

The residents of Ocracoke Island are served by the Ocracoke School (K-12), part of the Hyde County Schools, with a student population of 135 as of 2010.[35] The island also has a small airport located southeast of the village on NC 12.[36] Hyde County maintains the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department located on highway 12. [37]

Hyde County also maintains a year-round Emergency Medical Service at the North Carolina Paramedic level. Due to call volume and locations for training and education facilities, 90% of the Paramedics do not live near or with in the county or island area. It is staffed by 12 full-time and multiple part-time employees when required. Full-time staff work a 48 hours on and 144 hours off shifts in teams of three. Two Paramedics and one EMT-Basic. One of the paramedics stay behind if the unit transport to give the island ALS coverage until the unit returns. The EMS Units do say Ocracoke EMS instead of Hyde County EMS because of the island's pride. Due to the island's remote location, victims of any injury or illness considered to be potentially life-threatening have to be flown to Greenville, NC or Norfolk, VA by helicopter. The US Coast Guard and US Marines have helicopters available nearby should those of the hospital be unavailable. To access these services, dial 911.


  1. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  3. ^ Talk Like A Tarheel, from the North Carolina Collection website at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2013-01-29.
  4. ^ "Ocracoke's Most Famous Visitor". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  5. ^ "Blackbeard the Pirate". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  6. ^ "Ocracoke Island, North Carolina: A Research Guide". University of North Carolina's Library. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  7. ^  
  8. ^ John Amrhein. "Ocracoke, North Carolina". Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  9. ^ The inlet appears as "Okok" in the map "A New Description of Carolina", engraved by Francis Lamb (London, Tho. Basset and Richard Chiswell, 1676).
  10. ^ "The History behind Ocracoke Island". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  11. ^ Earl W. O'Neal, Jr. "OCRACOKE ISLAND HISTORY - Hyde County, NC". (USGenWeb Archives). Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  12. ^ "A Brief History of Ocracoke". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  13. ^ Porter, Darwin; Prince, Danforth (2007). Frommers: The Carolinas & Georgia. 
  14. ^ "Ocracoke Newsletter: September 21, 2011". 2011-09-21. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  15. ^ "Ocracoke's Favorite Residents". Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  16. ^ Cindy Price (2005-11-11). "Ocracoke in Fall: Gloriously Empty". Retrieved 2013-06-03. 
  17. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  18. ^ "Outer Banks Ferries". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  19. ^ "TripAdvisor: Ocracoke Traveler Article: Ocracoke: A Primer for the Ocracoke Ferries". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  20. ^ "Ocracoke History". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  21. ^ "Ocracoke Island / Hyde County's Outer Banks". Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Neala Schwartzberg. "Offbeat Travel". Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  24. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  25. ^ "USGS ENHANCED QUAD: Howard Reef". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  26. ^ "The official Ocracoke Civic & Business Tourism Site". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  27. ^ "The Official Website of the Ocracoke's Working Watermen's Association". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  28. ^ "About Ocracoke Island". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  29. ^ "Ocracoke History". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  30. ^ "The Artists". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  31. ^ Neal Hutcheson, director (2009). The Carolina Brogue (television documentary). Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. 
  32. ^ Wolfram, Walt, and Natalie Schilling Estes, authors (1997). Hoi Toide on the Outer Banks pp.117-136 (book). The University of North Carolina Press. 
  33. ^ a b "Profile: Ocracoke, North Carolina". Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  34. ^ a b "Ocracoke, North Carolina Population: Census 2010 and 2000 Interactive Map, Demographics, Statistics, Quick Facts". Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  35. ^ "Ocracoke School". Ocracoke Island Journal. 11 June 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2012. 
  36. ^ "Ocracoke Island (W95)". 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  37. ^ "History of the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department". Retrieved 2013-06-01. 

External links

  • Town of Ocracoke, North Carolina website
  • Ocracoke Island, NC visitor information
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore - Ocracoke Island
  • documentaryThe Ocracoke BrogueClips from
  • America's Best Beaches Past National Winners
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