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.

Grab Your Blanket, The new American Horror Story has arrived!

Photo Courtesy of J. Aaron Trotman photography


The moment we have all been anxiously awaiting is finally here!




“My Roanoke Nightmare” premiered yesterday on FX. Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of scary or haunting TV series but this one mentions one of my absolute FAVORITE places, Roanoke Island. This FX series has been the main topic of discussion amongst my friends for roughly the entire last month. Fall on the Outer Banks is a bit slower and gives us locals a chance to catch up and relax. A group of my closest friends and I like to get together and binge-watch different series when the weather turns crisp and sweaters start to come out. This fall we picked “AHS” for its intriguing theme and not to mention the little bit of excitement that comes from living so close to Roanoke Island!

I haven’t watched the first episode yet but from what I’ve heard it’s a cinema minefield! Similar to Inception, the movie starring Leonardo DeCaprio, like a dream within a dream, it’s a documentary within a show that narrates specific (possibly real) events that took place on Roanoke Island during the 18th century… The name of the show is completely accurate, American Horror Stories and what better theme for a series of episodes than that of the 115 English Colonists that vanished in 1587 without a trace?

I may not normally be into spine-chilling, unnerving television series but I have my blanket ready, pillows fluffed, doors locked and am ready to see what all the AHS hype is about! Watch it with us and let us know what you think in the comments section below!!! If you’re really interested in the haunting truth about Roanoke Island and the Lost Colony but don’t want to stay to close to where the story takes place, check out our vacation rentals in Nags Head NC which is less than a 20-minute drive to Manteo NC, where the Lost Colony re-enactment is performed each summer.

Don’t forget to bring an umbrella for the raining teeth though! Just kidding, that part of the series trailer definitely can’t be true… Can it?  I guess we will just have to watch the episode and see!!

The Outer Banks, WWII & the Battle for the Atlantic

JLBook Cover

World War II was fought on the doorstep of the Outer Banks. The Battle for the Atlantic ravaged Allied shipping from the Caribbean to the North Sea and the coastal waters of North Carolina saw some of the heaviest losses.

In March of 1942 more than 70 ships were sunk off the coast of North Carolina, many of them within sight of the residents of the Outer Banks. Although that month saw the heaviest losses, the battle continued throughout the war.

The human cost of that battle was brought to life in a presentation at the Coastal Studies Institute by William Geroux. His book, The Mathews Men, Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler’s U-Boats, tells the story of the Hodges clan a family of seafarers from Mathews.

Mathews, a small city on the  Chesapeake Bay just north of Norfolk was noted for its maritime traditions. Six of the seven Hodges brothers captained merchant ships during the war and two, Dewey and Leslie, gave their lives for the cause.

Geroux’s presentation highlighted the bravery and effort of the merchant marines—efforts that are often overlooked in telling the story of WWII. Geroux points out that the merchant marines suffered the highest casualty rate of any service group in war although the merchant marines were never recognized as a branch of the armed services and they never qualified for any veteran benefits.

The presentation was part of the CSI’s “Science on the Sound” series, once a month topics of interest to the Outer Banks.

The Mathews Men is available at Downtown Books in Manteo and Duck’s Cottage in Duck.

#Joelamb,jr. #downtownbooks

Historic Home Weekend on OBX

By the front door at Sea Spray and 1958 flat top cottage.
By the front door at Sea Spray and 1958 flat top cottage.

Back in the 1930s, 40s and 50s when the historic homes of the Outer Banks were being built, it’s doubtful that anyone thought they would ever be historic. Rustic, a place to getaway, built usually from whatever materials were on hand, somehow they’ve weathered everything the ocean and climate have thrown their way and now stand as icons of a different time and way of life.

Southern Shores and Kill Devil Hills held tours of their historic homes this weekend. On Friday it was the Kill Devil Hills Tour of Local Historic Landmarks and Saturday the Southern Shores Historic Flat Top Tour.

The homes are as different as can be; the Kill Devil Hill houses are rambling cedar shake homes with floor plans that seem to have sprung from the imagination of the carpenter building it.

The Southern Shores Flat Tops were the creation of Frank and David Stick and they were built to a plan, yet there is remarkable variety in them. Built as cheaply as possible, local lumber was used—luckily that was juniper the perfect wood for the Outer Banks environment. Rectangular box construction, the walls are cement block with the sand usually coming from Outer Banks beaches, complete at times, with shells that were scooped up with everything else.

Certainly two days well spent. Talking to the owners about their homes what came through time and again was a remarkable sense of ownership and responsibility and a sense that preservation is important.

The Tale Behind the Tall Pine Bridge Replacement

Tall Pine bridge over Snow Goose Canal nearing completion in April.
Tall Pine bridge over Snow Goose Canal nearing completion in April.

After 55 years or so they’re finally replacing the bridges over the Southern Shores canals. Not a bad lifespan for a used bridge.

Residents and regular visitors to the Outer Banks know that the Tall Pine Bridge that spans the Snow Goose Canal is being replaced. The latest bulletin from the town of Southern Shores has the completion date of the project right on schedule in about a month.

The new bridge is a modern construct—looks like it will last at least 50 years and maybe 100. The old bridge. . . . well, it had a life before coming to Southern Shores and how it got there says a lot about David Stick who played such a pivotal role in the creation of the town.

David joined his father, Frank, in the early 1950s to market the new resort community of Southern Shores. Frank felt the beachfront properties were where the greatest potential lay. His son disagreed, viewing the soundside of the 2600 acres as ideal for year round residents.

To raise money he harvested the dogwood trees in the forest and used the money made from that to cut some roads and create canals to drain the swamp. However, after building the roads and cutting the canals there was no money left to build a bridge. Since the roads did not meet NCDOT standards, the state was not going to put a bridge in for him.

But NCDOT was replacing some bridges in Eastern North Carolina and David agreed to take the old bridges away intact. It was a classic win/win: David got the bridges he needed at the cost of moving them and the state didn’t have to pay to dispose of them.

They are getting replaced now.

For anyone coming down to the Outer Banks for the next month it’s important to know that there is no through traffic on South Dogwood in Southern Shores because the bridge over the canal is closed.

Wright Memorial Setting for Citizenship Ceremony

Receiving the certificate of citizenship.
Receiving the certificate of citizenship.

Thirty-nine new citizens were welcomed to the Outer Banks yesterday at a swearing in ceremony at the Wright Brothers Memorial.

It was an amazing event—emotional, awe-inspiring and perhaps a little bit intimidating with the realization of what these newest Americans coming from 23 countries have gone through to follow their dream.

There were remarks from Jay Wesselmann U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Dave Hallac, Superintendent of the National Park Outer Banks Group—and they were thoughtful and appropriate. The day, though, belonged to those 39 men and women who had traveled from China, the Philippines, Yemen, Viet Nam or Brazil to follow the dream of opportunity.

And what is compelling and does not seem to have changed since first immigrant set foot on these shore—parents were coming to give their children a better life . . . more opportunity, a better education and the chance to freely express themselves.

One of the most memorable images from the day was the joy on the faces of every new citizen as they came forward to receive a certificate of citizenship. Without speaking a word, their actions shouted out that the ideal that the United States embodies is still very much alive.

The Countries represented at the Swearing in Ceremony:

The Philippines, Taiwan, Columbia, Trinidad and Tobago, the People’s Republic of China., Mexico, Ecuador, India, Canada, Israel, Czech Republic, Honduras, Poland, Brazil, Romania, Yemen, Viet Nam, Iran, Morocco, S. Korea, El Salvador Burma and Paraguay.

Check Out The Wright Brothers Monument This Summer!

The view from the top of the Wright Brothers Monument. Photo, Kati Wilkins, North Beach Sun.
The view from the top of the Wright Brothers Monument. Photo, Kati Wilkins, North Beach Sun.


Mystery solved!

This summer for the first time in over 25 years the National Park Service is going to open the Wright Brothers Monument to visitors.

Towering over the Wright Brothers Memorial Park and everything else surrounding it the monument perches on top of a 90’ sand dune that has been stabilized. Including ht 60’ of the monument, at 150’ it’s the highest point on the Outer Banks until Bodie Island Lighthouse.

A little piece of history about the Monument—it was the original visitor’s center. From 1933 when it was dedicated until 1957 when the current Visitor’s Centers was completed, everyone trekked up Kill Devil Hill to get the inside scoop on gifts, books and information.

As long as the only connection to the outside world was a wooden bridge at Kitty Hawk and a couple of ferries coming from the west, that was fine.

But when real bridges connected the Outer Banks with the rest of the country, the small, cramped space inside was no longer adequate.

It is a beautiful piece of architecture and the interior is as starkly beautiful as the outside. There is a very narrow, twisting stairwell to what was once an observation deck at the top, but even a one time climb to the top is enough to convince anyone that the stairs are unsuitable and unsafe for use by the general public.

Kind of a shame, too, because the view from the top of the Monument almost feels like soaring above the earth.

Jockey’s Ridge-Kite Flyers Dream & More


The sun has come back to the Outer Banks; we’re getting some nice breezes from the south, which is what is expected as the weather turns to spring and summer. We had a couple of rugged days in there, but spring is always like that as the atmosphere makes up its mind about what the season is going to be.

Kites are starting to pop up again on Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head—a sure sign that more pleasant days are here.

In a landscape filled with symbols of the beach life, Jockeys Ridge seems to have taken its place an icon that people look to and remember. With over 1,000,000 visitors every year, it stands to reason that visitors and locals see the massive dune structure as a symbol of the Outer Banks.

It was almost destroyed.

Back in the early 1970s developers were ready to level Jockeys Ridge and build vacation homes. In fact, the bulldozers were ready to move when Carol Lista (there’s road named after her in Nags Head) stood in front of the ‘dozers and refused to move.

Her actions inspired others and from that People to Preserve Jockey’s Ridge was formed. Some intense lobbying and excellent marketing followed and in 1975 Jockey’s Ridge State Park was established.

People to Preserve Jockey’s Ridge eventually became Friends of Jockey’s Ridge and nonprofit organization that continues to advocate for and support the park. Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates is a proud sponsor of the organization.

There is nothing like Jockey’s Ridge anywhere. It is a living dune—meaning the sands are in constant motion, changing the shape and landscape throughout the year. The highest sand dune on the East Coast, it is home to the Kitty Hawk Kites hang gliding school and may be the finest place in the world to fly a kite.

National Park Service Turns 100

Bodie Island Lighthouse.
Bodie Island Lighthouse.

2016 is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service and with the huge presence the NPS has on the Outer Banks there are some a few things coming up that might be worth checking out.

There are three national parks on the Outer Banks—Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the Wright Brothers Memorial and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on Roanoke Island. All three are administered as the Outer Banks Group from offices at Fort Raleigh.

Officially established in 1953, over 2.4 million visitors were counted last year. The park extends from the west side of South Nags Head to Ocracoke Island and includes Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Bodie Island Lighthouse.

The Wright Brothers Memorial is iconic to the Outer Banks. Perched atop Kill Devil Hill, the monument is a permanent reminder that powered flight was first achieved here. The memorial was authorized in 1927 and became a part of the NPS in 1953.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site seems to be just about where the original Roanoke Island Lost Colony was situated. It’s also the home of the Lost Colony Outdoor Drama, the longest running outdoor drama in North America, now in its 78th season.

Some Spring Time Events:

Naturalization Ceremony  April 16 at 3 p.m., Wright Brothers National Memorial. United States Customs and Immigration Service will hold a citizenship ceremony. The agency has an agreement with the Park Service to hold these ceremonies where new citizens “learn about and reflect on American identity and the responsibilities of citizenship.”

First Colony Foundation Archeological Dig: “Project Dogwood” – April 17- 23, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. The First Colony Foundation is planning an archaeological dig in honor of the Centennial and the 75th anniversary of the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.

The Lost Colony Drama Centennial Dedication – May 27, the Lost Colony Amphitheater. The Roanoke Island Historical Association will dedicate the season on opening night of The Lost Colony Drama to the National Park Service and kick off several activities. Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates is a proud sponsor of the Lost Colony.

The Wright Brothers Stuff


Wilber Wright flying in France, 1908 

It’s December 17, 2015, an important day on the Outer Banks, and to commemorate the 112th anniversary of the Wright Brothers Flight, here are three lesser known facts about the famous duo.

Wilbur had no front teeth. When he was 17 he was high sticked in a hockey game and his front teeth were knocked out. According to David McCullough in his book The Wright Brothers, Wilbur’s father, Milton, claimed the blow was struck by Oliver Crook Haugh, who went on to be one of Ohio’s most notorious killers.

The injury reshaped Wilbur’s life. A senior in high school, he was planning on attending Yale. He dropped out of school, and by all accounts became a recluse for three years. He spent the three years caring for his mother who was dying from tuberculosis.

Powered flight was not their only aviation breakthrough. Actually the Wright Brothers were not the first to realize powered flight. As one writer noted with enough power a barn door will fly. There had been a number of powered gliders making short hops before 1903.

What Wilbur and Orville accomplished was controlled, powered flight. They could turn in either direction and safely land at a time of their choosing.

They also made tremendous technological advances in propeller design. Their 1911 propellers have been shown to be just 5% less efficient than modern propellers.

The Wrights made almost no flights between 1906 and early 1908. Concerned that they had not yet received patents for many of their innovations, the Wrights stopped flying so no one could see what they were doing.

After receiving their patents, the US Government and France offered to purchase planes if certain conditions were met. The French in particular were skeptical, believing they had the lead in aviation technology . . . until Wilbur took his aircraft up for a quick flight to check his controls and performed feats no one in France even knew could be done.