Dare County Celebrates Its 150th Anniversary–History and Culture Will Be Featured

Dare County Courthouse as it appeared in 1904 when it was built.
Dare County Courthouse as it appeared in 1904 when it was built.

The 150th anniversary of the founding of Dare County happened just a few days ago. There will be a full year’s worth celebrations to mark the event.

When it was created there wasn’t much here, which has a lot to do with why Currituck, Hyde, and Tyrrell counties were willing to give up small pieces of their land to form the new county.

Named for Virginia Dare, when it was created the new county was a far flung sliver of swamp, maritime forest and barrier islands. The closest town to a central place was Manteo, so it became the county seat.

It was smaller than it is today. When it was created the northern border was just about where Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills meet.

According to author and historian David Stick, the land that is now Kitty Hawk, Duck and Southern Shores was added in 1920 because the state legislature realized that area logically should have been a part of Dare County all along.

A more colorful tale was told by Pops Scarborough of Duck in a 1997 interview. Approaching 100 years of age at the time of the interview, according to Pops, Currituck County was going to start taxing fishermen on their catch. Local residents approached Dare County commissioners and asked if they planned to tax fishermen on their catch. The answer was no, so they petitioned the state to become part of Dare County.

A colorful tale but difficult to prove.

From the first English child born in the New World to the Wright Brothers first flight, Dare County is filled with remarkable firsts and fascinating pieces of history.

The county is planning a number of event in conjunction with its sesquicentennial celebration. One of the biggest will be Saturday May 2 at Island Farms with interpreters dressed in clothing of the era.

Take the time to explore the history and culture of the Outer Banks. Book your vacation today and stay in a Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates home.

The Lost Colony-Great Theater for the Whole Family

The Lost Colony. Pageantry and a great night of theater on Roanoke Island.
The Lost Colony. Pageantry and a great night of theater on Roanoke Island.

The Lost Colony is now into its 82nd year, making it by a considerable margin, the longest running outdoor drama in North America.

There’s a good reason for that.

The play has everything. Pageantry and wonderful costumes making it a feast for the eyes. But even more important, it’s a great story.

The play, The Lost Colony tells the story of the first attempt by the British to colonize the New World—the failed City of Raleigh on Roanoke Island. 

To this day, no one knows what happened to the 117 colonists who journeyed to the north end of Roanoke Island. We are discovering, though, more and more historic fact, and one of the remarkable things about Paul Green’s 1936 script is that it is still relevant and fact-based.

The play makes it clear that incompetence of Governor Ralph Lane contributed to the failure of the colony. And history leaves little doubt that his violent confrontations with the Native American villages created hatred, mistrust and eventually warfare.

Taking place at a time when when the might of Spain sought to quash the upstart navy of Great Britain—an undertaking the failed when the English navy crushed the Spanish Armada in 1587.

The play brings all of this to life.

The fears of Queen Elizabeth I as the Spanish Armada sails for England, and her desperate plan to save her nation that forbids any ship to leave port. All British ships were to be part of the fleet that would assail the Spanish.

The pleas of Sir Walter Raleigh and Joh White, who returned to England to gather supplies, know what the fate will be without resupply, but their words fall on deaf ears.

At the City of Raleigh, it’s winter and with no help from the local Indian nation the colony is dying.  Finally they make the choice leave, carving the word Croatoan into a tree.

The play is suitable for all ages. It is an outdoor performance at night. Bug spray is probably a good idea and it may be a good idea to have a light jacket or sweater handy. Waterside Theater is on Roanoke Sound and it can get a bit chilly at times.

Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates is a proud sponsor of the play.

Three Surprising Outer Banks Facts

The Kitty Hawk Wright Brothers Monument on Moor Shore Road.
The Kitty Hawk Wright Brothers Monument on Moor Shore Road.

Summer is here and the Outer Banks is alive and well and filled with guests. With everyone having a great time and enjoying the the sun, sand and surf, it can almost seem as though the Outer Banks just happened one day.

That’s not the case, of course, so we thought it might be fun to take a look at three little know facts about the Outer Banks. As it turns out, they’ll all be about the Wright Brothers.

The Other Wright Brothers Monument

The Wright Brothers Monument perched on top of Big Kill Devil Hill is not the only monument to the Wilbur and Orville Wright on the Outer Banks.

On Moor Shore Road in Kitty Hawk there is much more modest monument, this one created and paid for by the citizens of the town.

The monument, placed in May of 1928, marks the location of Bill and Addie Tate’s house where the Wright Brothers stayed in 1900 when they first arrived on the Outer Banks. 

The inscription reads, “On this spot, September 17, 1900, Wilbur Wright began the assembly of the Wright Brothers’ First experimental glider which led to man’s conquest of the air. Erected by the Citizens of Kitty Hawk, NC, 1928.” 

The citizens paid for the whole thing raising $210 to do so.

Moor Shore Road

We can’t talk about the Kitty Hawk Monument without mentioning Moor Shore Road.

Paralleling Kitty Hawk Bay, Moor Shore is one of the oldest roads on the Outer Banks. It was the route the Wright Brothers would have taken to get to Big Kill Devil Hill from Bill Tate’s house.

Moor Shore stops at the Kitty Hawk Bay multi-use path now, but at one time, it would have been a continuous road connecting with what is now Bay Drive in Kill Devil Hills then continuing to the high sand dunes that gave the area its name.

The route along Moor Shore to the the Wright Brothers Monument is a great bike ride.

No Forest or Grass at Kill Devil Hills in 1903

The reason the Wright Brothers moved their camp to Kill Devil Hills in 1901 was there was nothing to stop the wind. No trees, no buildings…nothing. 

The stabilized dune and trees along the border of the Monument did not exist in 1901. If it had, the brothers would certainly have chosen a more open, exposed location.

There is so much to do and explore on the Outer Banks that one visit may not be enough. Check out Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates for the best in Outer Banks accommodations.

50th Anniversary of Iconic Apollo Photo of Outer Banks

The Outer Banks as seen from Apollo 9 120 miles above the earth.
The Outer Banks as seen from Apollo 9 120 miles above the earth.

March 3, 1969, 120 miles above the earth, Apollo 9 circled the globe, its primary mission was to test systems for the upcoming moon landing scheduled for Apollo 11. One of those tests was the first two person space walk ever attempted.

But as the spacecraft circled above the Outer Banks the crew snapped a picture that is one of the most iconic images of coastal North Carolina ever captured.

March 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of that amazing photo.

Remarkable in its clarity, the inlets of the stand out in stark detail. The fragility of these barrier island is plain to see. From an altitude of 120 miles they look like thin ribbons of sand holding back the Atlantic Ocean.

The sharp elbows of Cape Hatteras and Cape Fear show plumes of silt marking the deadly currents that create some of the most deadly waters in the world.

The Outer Banks was a very different place at that time. The population of Dare County was somewhere around 5500 and although it was a popular tourist destination, it had not yet been discovered by the millions of visitors who arrive every year.

Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates was one year old and our founder, Joe Lamb and his wife, Ann, were just beginning the legacy of outstanding service and community involvement that are hallmarks of our company.

What is unmistakable though, and is still true today, is the beauty of these barrier island. The contrast between the sandy, shallow waters of the sound and the deeper colors of the ocean waters are still very much a part of life on the Outer Banks. The interplay of forces that have created these strips of sand, are the very forces that create its beauty—the sun setting over any of the sounds, the soothing rhythm of ocean waves crashing on the beach.

There is magic here, and we invite you to enjoy it with us.

The Secret Token-An Amazing Look at What Happened to The Lost Colony

Andrew Lawler's The Secret Token.
Andrew Lawler’s The Secret Token.

There is a new book out on the Lost Colony and it may be the most comprehensive study of the fate of the 115 colonists that has been published.

Andrew Lawler’s The Secret Token, Myth, Obsession and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke, is an amazing book that manages to incorporate elements of a a mystery or spy novel into a book filled with a detailed study of the history of the Lost Colony and why—and how—it has to hold such a dominant place in the American psyche.

Lawler is a journalist and science writer, and his style reflects that. There is very little opinion about conclusions, rather fact upon fact is layered in dizzying quantity.

History Comes to Life

The Secret Token is divided into three sections—the story of the Lost Colony, the geo-political situation in Europe in 1585-1590, and the efforts to discover the fate of the colonists

Lawlers ability to take an astonishing quantity of factual information and create a well-written—even compelling—book is remarkable.

He remarks, at one point, that the Lost Colony had to be lost and not a failed attempt at colonizing the new world. And, as Lawler writes, that did not happen until until the 1830s when George Bancroft a Harvard trained historian wrote A History of the United States.

Bancroft had visited Germany before writing his book and he was swept up in the romantic philosophy that seemed to grip Germany at that time.

Virginia Dare became the first white child born in the New World, a symbol of purity and innocence surrounded by savages.

Lawler goes into considerable detail about Simon Fernandes, the ship’s pilot who directed the operation of the ships. It was Ferandes who insisted upon leaving the colonists on Roanoke Island when the original plan called for the colony to be in what is now Hampton Roads.

Although The Secret Token does not answer why they were left at a poor second location, Lawler’s research demonstrates that Fernandes was firmly in the English camp.

The modern day gathering of archeologists, historians, and quasi-scientists is remarkable, and Lawler describes many of them with an eye for physical description and personality quirks.

It all makes for some great reading and here at Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates we have no problem recommending Andrew Lawler’s The Lost Token.

Pamlico Shipwreck Mystery Moves Closer to Being Solved

An image of the Pappy's Lane shipwreck during WWII.
An image of the Pappy’s Lane shipwreck during WWII.

Pappy’s Lane Shipwreck Yields Clues to Marine ARCHAEOLOGIST

For almost 50 years the shipwreck off Pappy’s Lane in Rodanthe has been turning to rust.

A forlorn, forgotten husk there was little to suggest it was ever anything other than some rusted barge that had grounded and wasn’t worth the effort to refloat.

Clearly visible from the shoreline, the shipwreck first caught Coastal Studies Institute Marine Archeologist Nathan Richards’ attention in 2010, but with no funds to really study it he had to wait.

When NCDOT presented their route for the Jug Handle to bypass the S Curves north of Rodanthe, the archeological survey team advising the transportation department felt the wreck might have some significance.

The state asked Richards to investigate and what he and his team of interns and graduates students discovered is an amazing story that begins in WWII.

Needing a landing craft that could transport up to a company of soldier at a time, the US government in WWII designed the Landing Craft Infantry Mark 3-LCI (L)(3). The extra L is for large.

The ship performed as hoped, except it was not well armed and without close arm support when troops went ashore, they were being slaughtered—that was especially the case at Tarawa—one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific campaign.

To remedy that, some of the LCI being built were converted to gunboats—LCS Gunboat. According to reports, the LCS Gunboat was the most heavily armed ship by size and weight in WWII.

Although it has not yet been confirmed, circumstantial evidence seems to point to the wreck being a LCS Gunboat and according to Dr. Richards at a CSI Science on the Sound lecture on Thursday night, the ship seems to be the USS LCS (L)(3)-123.

At the time it ran aground and was abandoned, probably in 1969, the ship was long past it’s glory days and had been converted to a fuel transport ship along the Inner Coastal waterway.

It has not yet been confirmed, but anecdotal evidence suggests it was used to pull two other ships to open water that had run aground but in the effort ran aground itself and was unable to refloat.

Coastal Studies Institute Looks at Pamlico Sound Shipwreck

Restored landing craft (LC) at a California museum.
Restored landing craft (LC) at a California museum.

Science on the Sound Looks at Pappy’s Lane Shipwreck

From a shipwreck and marine archeology to harnessing the energy of the Gulf Stream, Coastal Studies Institute on Roanoke Island is does very interesting work.

That’s why their Science on the Sound series always seems to be so interesting. And the lecture coming up this Thursday, January 25 falls into that “interesting” category.

On the north end of Rodanthe, in the shallow waters of Pamlico Sound there has been a deteriorating wreck for a number of years. Named for the road the is closest to it, the Pappy’s Lane Shipwreck has attracted the attention of CSI’s Dr. Nathan Richards and his intern team of marine archeologists.

The upcoming Science on the Sound will feature what has been discovered about the shipwreck.

Some things we do know. The ship probably sank sometime in the 1960s. It’s most likely use at that time was to tow barges filled with rock and ballast for the construction of NC12.

The team has identified the remains as a WWII landing craft; its designation LC stood for Landing Craft, but there were a number of varieties of the craft. LCI was Landing Craft Infantry able to land 200 men at a time. The LCS was used in support. There was also used as a weapon platform at times.

After the war there was little use for the ships and they were often sold off as surplus, the most likely fate of the Pappy’s Lane ship. Substantially deteriorated, there is no hope of salvaging the wreck.

The investigation of the wreck has been funded by NCDOT. Construction is about to begin on the Jug Handle bypass to the S Curves north of Rodanthe. The Jug Handle will swing into Pamlico Sound and reconnect with NC12 very close to Pappy’s Lane. The shipwreck is in the proposed route of the road.

Lost Colony Weekend Examines the Evidence

Virginia Pars Map Holds Tantalizing Clues

The Virginia Pars map.
The Virginia Pars map.

Will the mystery of the Lost Colony ever be solved? Probably not. That, at least, is the consensus of experts who gathered at an international symposium hosted by the First Colony Foundation.

As one of the archeologists on hand remarked in an offhand moment, “Unless we find the skeletal remains of Virginia Dare (the first British child born in the Americas) holding a doll, probably not.”

Nonetheless, the conjecture goes on.

Much of the focus at the symposium was on the Virginia Pars Map, a map of coastal Virginia and North Carolina that has resided at the British Museum for some time.

It was an innocent question that one of the researcher of the First Colony Foundation—a North Carolina group trying to unravel the mystery—asked. Looking at the map, there appeared to be a spot that had been blotted out.

If it was blotted out, what was under it?

As it turned out, what was under it may have been very significant.

It appears as though what lies hidden was a symbol often used to designate a fort or permanent structure. The location would be at the mouth of the Chowan River across from Edenton.

The map itself, drawn by John White, the first leader of the expedition, is remarkable in it’s detail. One of the presentation at the symposium presented the minutiae of White’s drawings, that even in miniature depicted individual soldiers, officers and the activities of the troop.

The map is also very accurate—a map certainly designed to be used for navigation. Although not as precise as anything we can produce today, the Chowan River is clearly marked and in the right place. Cape Hatteras is denoted, as well as a number of inlets that no longer exist.

Because it was so accurate and contained such detail, there are a number of questions about why White covered up the fort when he finished the map. Did it no longer exist? Was he concerned that if it fell into Spanish hands, the lives of his colonists would be endangered?

We have no way of knowing and the quest goes on.

Rogallo Kite Festival at Jockey’s Ridge Saturday & Sunday

Kites flying at Jockey's Ridge State Park during a Rogallo Festival.
Kites flying at Jockey’s Ridge State Park during a Rogallo Festival.

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Something for the whole family?

If that’s the case, check out the Rogallo Kite Festival at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head Saturday and Sunday.

Sponsored by Kitty Hawk Kites, the event is a wonderful celebration of a true American hero.

Francis Rogallo and His Invention

Francis Rogallo doesn’t show up in a lot of history book, but it was his invention of a “parawing” a frameless steerable went that made hang gliding possible. And more than hang gliding. Almost all modern stunt kites are patterned after his designs. Modern parachutes that can be directed to a landing zone; paraglider and more.

All of it because he and his wife Gertrude created a frames wing that would fly to the left when told to, or to the right, or up and down.

Rogallo spent almost his entire professional career at NASA, beginning with the agency before WWII when its acronym was NACA— National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

The Rogallo wing—as it is known—was just one of some 24 or 25 patents that he held, all of them related to flight.

Rogallo Festival

The Rogallo Festival is all about kites and flying. There are stunt kite demos all day. This is a great time to learn how to fly a two or four line kite.

We’re not sure just what kites Kitty Hawk Kites will have on the dune, but in the past there have been power kites as well as regular stunt kites. Flying a power kite is a thrilling, and depending on how strong the wind is, a bit exhausting, experiences.

There are also kites in the sky all day long. Huge kites, often in the form of various sea creatures, but also large deltas and box kites, their strings adorned with spinners and even some small kites.

The weather is looking close to perfect for Saturday and Sunday, so there’s really no excuse for not being there. Bring some water, sunscreen and keep the sandals on—the sand is getting hot.

Lost Colony Remains Lost

The signet ring at the heart of the controversy.
The signet ring at the heart of the controversy.

Evidently the Lost Colony is going to remain lost for a bit longer.

According to a Smithsonian Magazine article that was published earlier in April, what archeologists had believed was a significant find has turned out to be…well, not very significant.

The Original Find

In 1998 ECU Archeologist David Phelps found what appeared to be an Elizabethan era signet ring on Hatteras Island. Phelps took the ring to a local jeweler and asked if the metal of the ring could be determined.

Concerned about harm to the ring, Phelps specifically told the jeweler that he did not want the ring damaged in any way.  Because of that some of the basic tests that could be done at that time could not be used.

The jeweler examined the ring, weighed it and told Phelps that, based on his inspection of it, the ring appeared to be gold.

A gold signet ring would have been an important part of the tools the Colonists had wth them. Its finding seemed to confirm theories that the Lost Colony fled south to Hatteras Island where it was known the Indians were friendly to the English.

What We Have Discovered

Unfortunately the ring is not gold.

Using an x-ray fluorescent device that was not available in 1998 a team of ECU scientists examined the ring and it is brass. Unlike the analysis that would have been done in 1998 to confirm the content of the ring, this new technique causes no damage to the artifact.

Since it is not gold, the ring was most likely used for trade with the Indians in the area. When cast from brass, the rings were fairly common and were typically part of a merchant’s bag of tricks.

Although the Lost Colony disappeared around 1587, British exploitation of the East Coast of North America continued. Thirty years after the Lost Colony, disappeared, British traders were well-established with regular contact with Indian tribes.