Corolla-Wild Horses Outsmart Fence Looking for Greener Pastures

Corolla Wild mustangs grazing in the 4WD area for Carova.
Corolla Wild mustangs grazing in the 4WD area for Carova.

The Corolla Wild Horses have gotten themselves in the news again. It seems the herd has figured out that the fence meant to keep them in the 4WD area of the Currituck Banks is damaged. The fence runs from  the Currituck Sound to the Atlantic Ocean.

Reports seem to indicate the horses like the lush green lawn of the Whalehead Club, although they’ve been seen grazing in a couple of areas. The folks from the Corolla Wild Horse fund have been doing a remarkably effective job of rounding up the escapees and getting them back north of the fence.

The damage is on the ocean side. There are plans to fix the fence, but the contractor is waiting for a west wind to make the surf a little more manageable. 

It’s a fun thing to think about in the winter of the year—the horses running free…people trying to round them up.

But there is a serious side to it.

Between 1985 and 1996, twenty horses were killed by cars. That’s when that first attempt to build a fence—in 1996—and round up the herd up and move it north happened. There were a lot a lot of problems with that fence and it was rebuilt in 2004 and has been fairly effective.

There’s a good reason to preserve the Corolla Wild horses. Along with the Shackleford Banks herd, they are the last remaining true Spanish Mustangs in the world. The mustangs of the American west, that are often thought of as the classic example of the breed, have crossbred with other horses so much that they are not considered a genetic example of mustangs.

Genetic testing has established that the Corolla herd are direct descendents of the horse of the Spanish Conquistadores. 

A visual study of the horse also confirms that they are unlike any other breed of horse and have the physical characteristics history has said the horses had. 

They are somewhat short and stocky with narrow but deep chests. They have shorter backs compared to their body than other breeds. They are a small breed of horse—700-900 pounds. The smaller ones are barely bigger than a pony.

They are also known to be very intelligent and very determined.

A Lot of Theories But Nothing Confirmed

How they got here is a bit of a mystery.

A shipwreck, perhaps. A wonderful thought—the horse escapes sure death and swims to its safety. It is, however, very unlikely.

At the time, the thought was that a horse’s legs could not handle the movement of a ship at sea, so they were suspended below decks in a harness. To survive a shipwreck at sea, someone would have had release them from their harness, which seems improbable if the entire crew was on deck fighting to save the ship.

It’s more likely that the Spanish explorers left their mounts behind for one reason or another. We know that the Spanish were very active in exploring the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. That is one of the reasons why Queen Elizabeth I granted Raleigh a royal charter to form a colony—as a counter to Spanish efforts.

There were also a number of unsuccessful attempts by the Spanish to establish colonies in the Southeast. When the Spanish left, it is very doubtful that they would have taken their livestock, including the horses, with them.

An interesting theory on that is somewhat plausible is the mustangs came with the ships of the doomed Lost Colony.

Spain and England were at war or on the verge of war in 1585 when Sir Walter Raleigh outfitted his second expedition to Roanoke Island.

Led by Sir Richard Grenville, the expedition stopped in the West Indies to buy livestock, including stallions and mares. 

Approaching Roanoke Inlet from the south, the flotilla’s flagship Tiger, ran aground, probably around Ocracoke Inlet although Diamond Shoals off  Buxton is a possibility. Because it was the largest ship, it was carrying most of the supplies for the colony  including the recently purchased livestock. Attempting to refloat the ship much of the supplies, including the livestock was thrown overboard.

If the livestock were survived, over time they could easily have migrated to the north. At the time that the Tiger ran aground, neither Hatteras Inlet nor Oregon Inlet existed. Those did not open until an 1846 hurricane. Although inlets opened periodically for the most part the Outer Banks was a continuous strand of sand from Ocracoke to Roanoke Inlet, directly across from Roanoke until about 1820 when Roanoke Inlet closed permanently.

That explanation does leave a lot unexplained. As an example, the Banker Horses as they became know, were common throughout coastal North Carolina from the Core Banks to the south to the Currituck Banks and Virginia by the 1700s.

Ocracoke Inlet, separating Ocracoke from Portsmouth Island, has been a wide, navigable inlet for as long as European explorers first marked it in the 16th century. Horses are good swimmers, but it would still have been a difficult crossing.

At one time there were a few thousand Banker horses roaming the Outer Banks. The story of what became of them is somewhat sad and involved and we’ll save that for another day.

But remember, when a stallion and his harem (that’s what it’s called) are lazing on the Carova beach in the summer, what you are seeing is a living piece of the history of the United States. 

And please, do not feed them and keep at least 50’ away.

There is so much to learn about the Outer Banks. Spend a fascinating week or two in a Joe Lamb Jr. & Associates home and discover a place like no other.

Outer Banks Spring Music Festival Season Is Here

With two major music festivals this week, the Outer Banks music scene is heating up.
With two major music festivals this week, the Outer Banks music scene is heating up.

Now that the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival has moved to May, it looks as though this coming week can officially be termed Outer Banks Spring Music Festival Week.

With two major music festivals this week, that seems like a good name for it.

Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival

After Michael wiped out three days of his four day Bluegrass Festival two years ago, Cory Hemilright figured he needed to move the music to spring. It took a year because he plans a full year into the future, but here we are in 2019 and the weather at least is cooperating.

Here are the particulars—Wednesday through Saturday at Roanoke Island Festival park in Manteo. The setting, overlooking Roanoke Sound is beautiful.

Rhonda Vincent and the Rage will be back. They have been at every festival since the first in 2012. She headlines Thursday night. 

Friday headliner is Seldom Scene and Saturday is Town Mountain wrapping up the show on Saturday.

Wedenesday evening could be fun with a free jam at Bluegrass Island Trading Company in Manteo.

Mustang Spring Jam

The music is looking really good this year, so good that the Mustang Spring Jam has been grown to two days.

Saturday features performances from Emma’s Lounge and the Travers Brothership. Two amazingly talented groups.

Sunday it’s all day with the young musicians from the Mustang Music Program starting ting it all. 

Headliner Ghost Light is typical of the type band Mike Dianna books. Innovative and on the cusp of greater recognition.

Proceeds for Mustang Music festivals benefit the Corolla Wild Horse Fund and the Mustang Music Program.

Music, art and a beautiful environment, the Outer Banks has it all. Take the time to learn what and amazing place this is with a visit to a Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates home.

Fresh Strawberries Ready to Be Picked

Picking fresh strawberries at the Malco's strawberry patch just north of the Wright Memorial Bridge.
Picking fresh strawberries at the Malco’s strawberry patch just north of the Wright Memorial Bridge.

Everything is right in the world of the Outer Banks. The weather has been springtime perfect and Mr and Mrs. Malco have opened their strawberry patch for picking once again. 

It’s hard to remember from year to year just how good those berries are, but this year’s crop, by acclimation seems to be really, really good.

Just about everyone living on the northern Outer Banks knows where the strawberry picking is, but for visitors, it’s about a three quarters of a mile north of the Wright Memorial Bridge on the Currituck mainland. With the weather as good as it has been, the Malco’s should have things open, but just in case, look for the strawberry banner with the open sign.

As an adult, picking fresh strawberries is a taste delight, but for the real joy in the event, take a child…preferably one who has never eaten a strawberry that they picked and then ate. The look of wonder that crosses their face is beautiful

A couple of things that are important to know.

It is all cash. No credit cards, checks or any other form of payment. The berries are $2.50/pound this year. We always figure we’ll pick around 10 pounds but invariably end up with 12-15. 

Containers are available to carry the strawberries home, but there is a fee for them, so it may be better to bring your own.

There is no shade, so it’s a good idea to bring some water and put some sunscreen on.

These are not store bought strawberries. They taste infinitely better than anything purchased in a store, but their shelf life is limited. Be sure to make plans to freeze some. They’re fantastic in smoothies.

Mostly—go have fun.

There is always something fun to do on the Outer Banks. Stay with Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates and discover the joys of life on a sandbar.

SELC Sues to Stop Mid Currituck Bridge

Proposed route of the Mid Currituck Bridge.
Proposed route of the Mid Currituck Bridge.

In a move that is probably a surprise to no one who is following the events, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) is suing NCDOT to stop construction of the $500 Mid Currituck Bridge.

The SELC has been opposed to the bridge since it was first formally proposed in the late 1990s. The span will connect Aydlett on the Currituck mainland to Corolla, bypassing the troubled intersection of US 158 and NC 12 in Kitty Hawk. Highway planners see the bridge as the best option to alleviate the traffic jams that have plagued weekend traffic in the summer for years.

With the announcement in March of a Record of Decision approved by the Federal highway Administration, the the Mid Currituck Bridge moved closer than it ever has to reality. The Record of Decision is the final step before construction bids are let.

 According to the SELC they are representing a number of groups and organizations including the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, hunters, fishermen. A local group NoMCD, is also opposed to the bridge, although it is unclear if they are part of the suit.

The case was filed on April 23 in in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The SELC maintains the bridge is an expensive and unnecessary project that will significantly damage to the environment. The suit alleges NCDOT failed to hold any public hearings on the Environmental Impact Statement since 2012.

The current Environmental Impact Statement is based on a 2012 EIS that was issued just before a planned ROD. NCDOT did solicit public input for the updated EIS, although there were no public hearings.

The bridge will be toll bridge. Although highway engineers believe it will alleviate traffic congestion it main purpose is to bring hurricane evacuation into compliance with state standards.

Sp[ring is here and it is spectacular on the Outer Banks. Plan your visit now with Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates.

Beach Permit Now Required for Parking on Carova Beach

Carova where large numbers of people and vehicles mix on a daily basis during the summer tourist season.
Carova where large numbers of people and vehicles mix on a daily basis during the summer tourist season.

Permit Required for Parking on Beach Only

Heading to the Carova area of the Currituck Banks? If so, be sure to get a permit before parking on the beach.

Beginning this weekend—Memorial Day—a permit is required for anyone who is parking on the Carova beach. The very important word in that sentence is parking. In other words, if a family is planning on driving to the 4WD area, and stopping to go swimming or fishing, a permit will be needed.

However, no permit is needed for an excursion to Carova if there is no stopping on the beach. If, as an example, this is a family trip to the 4WD area where the Corolla Wild Horses roam, and the hope is to see how many horses can be found—no permit is required for the expedition.

This is an attempt by Currituck County to get a handle on summertime beach traffic north of Corolla. In the summer the beach often seems more like a highway than a place where a family can relax and enjoy their time by the sea.

There are some rules and regulations governing who will need a permit, and how to get them. Here’s the information from the Currituck County website.

Currituck County Information Beach Parking Permit

Beachgoers who wish to park (we added the emphasis) on Currituck County’s four-wheel drive beach this summer will need a county-issued beach parking permit displayed on their motor vehicle.

This new permit system was adopted by the Board of Commissioners in an effort to increase safety in the four-wheel drive area, where large numbers of people and vehicles mix on a daily basis during the summer tourist season.

The permit system will be effective from the Friday before Memorial Day until Labor Day. Key provisions in the policy include:

All county residents and property owners may receive a free Seasonal permit for each vehicle they own by providing proof of ownership and current liability insurance. The permits will be issued specific to each vehicle.

County residents who live full-time on the off road area north of the North Beach Access Ramp may obtain two additional Guest permits. These permits will not be specific to a motor vehicle and may be used by guests of the resident.

All others must pay a fee for a beach parking permit. These permits will be available for purchase from the Tourism Department on a temporary or seasonal basis.

Types of Parking Permits

Seasonal – This permit is assigned to a specific vehicle and is good for the entire vacation season.  Seasonal permits are free to county residents and property owners.  Others may purchase a Seasonal permit for $150.

10-Day – This permit is available for purchase ($50) by individuals who want to park on the four-wheel drive beach but are not Currituck County residents or property owners and are not renting a home on the off-road area.  This would apply to day-visitors or those staying anywhere other than the 4-wheel drive beach.

Permits are available at:

Currituck Outer Banks Welcome Center

106 Caratoke Highway

Moyock, North Carolina


Corolla Visitor’s Center

500 Hunt Club Drive

Corolla, North Carolina 


Or email:

Check out Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates. for the best locations on the Outer Banks.

Changes Coming to Carova Beach Use

County Commissioners Consider Beach Parking Fee for Northern Tip of Outer Banks

Carova Beach is the main thoroughfare north of Corolla.
Carova Beach is the main thoroughfare north of Corolla.

There may be some changes coming to how the beaches of Carova are enjoyed this summer.

The Currituck County Commissioners are considering an ordinance that would charge a fee to park—not drive—on county beaches in the 4WD area.

It is important to note that this is still tentative; the commissioners have not voted on any legislation yet. Equally important, this does not impose any fees on driving on the beach.

The proposal is a response to growing complaints and concerns that beachgoers parking in the middle of the beach are creating a hazard in the 4WD area. Because the beach is the the main thoroughfare between the end of the paved section of NC12 and Carova, the safety of drivers and the people enjoying the beach have become an issue.

As now proposed the fees would be somewhat similar to the structure used for NPS 4×4 permits.

As now proposed, there would be two parking pass fees—a $50 for a 10-day parking pass or $150 that would be valid for a calendar year.

According to the reporting we’ve seen, the permits could only be purchased at the County’s two visitors centers in Moyock, just over the state line, or at the visitor’s center in Corolla. Similar to the NPS system, purchasers of a permit would have to watch a video on safe use of the beaches.

There are a number of concerns with the proposal as written.

With travelers already using the visitor’s centers heavily during the summer, a number of critics have wondered if staff is adequate to handle the new demands. The purchase of a pass would also require a second stop for travelers who have often been driving for most of the day.

Under the current proposal, Currituck County residents and property owners would not be charged for a pass.

Big Curri-Shuck Comes to Sanctuary Vineyards

Big Curri-Shuck--a great time in Currituck County.
Big Curri-Shuck–a great time in Currituck County.

Imagine an event that requires the following—eat as many fresh steamed oysters as you can, sample local wine and beer, maybe have some eastern North Carolina barbecue and steamed crab and throw in some really good country music.

That describes The Big Curri-Shuck at Sanctuary Vineyards and Winery in Jarvisburg, 15 minutes north of the Outer Banks.

Right next to the original Cotton Gin, The Big Curri-Shuck has become one of those annual events that should not be missed.

The Big Curr-Shuck Details

Here are the details. Price is $40, but it’s worth it. Tickets are available at I Got Your Crabs in Kitty Hawk or at Sanctuary Vineyards, which makes sense because I Got Your Crabs is supplying the oysters and the crab. And since the event is on the grounds of Sanctuary Vineyards and John Wright, vineyard manager, is driving force behind the event, of course that’s a source for tickets. 

Tickets are also available at all Cotton Gin stores.

The wine—with signature glasses—comes from Sanctuary Vineyards. The Vineyard’s wines have been steadily improving and at this point in time, they are good wines by any standards. The whites especially will go really well with oyster.

The information about the local beer hasn’t been posted yet, but in the past Weeping Radish is always on hand—they’re right up the road—and usually the Outer Banks Brewing Station and Lost Colony Brewery. But that hasn’t ben confirmed yet.

The music has been confirmed with local country rock band Croatan Highway—a very good sound, and Dave Cynar Band bringing their county sound from Hampton Roads.

Events at Sanctuary Vineyards are always family friendly events and this is no exception with hayrides for the kids and usually a hay bale maze.

Tickets are limited, so don’t wait.

Currituck Banks Reserve-A Different Side to the Outer Banks

End of the Currituck Reserve Boardwalk Trail leading to Currituck Sound.
End of the Currituck Reserve Boardwalk Trail leading to Currituck Sound.

The Outer Banks is a surprising place. Almost all of our visitors come for the sun, the sand and the chance to sit on a beach and do as little as possible. After two or three days of that, it can begin to drag a bit and then the exploration of the Outer Banks really begins.

There is a remarkable history here—check out The Lost Colony, the longest running outdoor drama in the United States. Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates is a proud sponsor of the play and it’s a great evening of entertainment. there is more recent history at the Whalehead Club or any of the lighthouses that dot the coast.

There is also a wilderness side to the Outer Banks; the western shoreline that borders the sounds is a place of dense forests and surprising beauty.

One of the most accessible is the Currituck Banks Reserve in Corolla. The trailhead and parking lot is about mile past the Currituck Beach Lighthouse at a sharp righthand turn in the road.

There are actually two trails—a .3 mile boardwalk and a .75 primitive trail. Those are one way distances so double them for the full length.

The boardwalk trail is suitable for anyone. Towering pines line the path creating a canopy of green. The trail ends with an overview of the northern end of Currituck Sound.

The primitive trail should be fine for anyone eight years and up, although it’s important that children know to stay on the trail. There are two stairs about 25 yards from the beginning of the boardwalk that is the beginning of the trail. Look for the blue blazons that mark the path.

A good pair of walking or running shoes, or even sturdy sandals, should be fine, although flip-flops would be pushing your luck a bit.

The trail winds through an extensive grove of live oak, twisted and shaped by the relentless winds of the Outer Banks. It ends at a marsh on the edge of the sound.

This is a great introduction to a side of the Outer Banks that is often overlooked.

Late spring to early fall, insect repellant is a must.