Most of the coast of North Carolina is protected by barrier islands. In the north is a  320 kilometre (200 mile) long chain of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks. This chain of islands runs well offshore, so far offshore that at Cape Hatteras you are about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the mainland. In the south only narrow channels separate the barrier islands from the mainland. The coast of North Carolina is well worth a visit, it has long sandy beaches to rival Florida, interesting towns and plenty of history.



Bodie Island Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Low lying barrier islands can be a major hazard to shipping, particularly when they are are far offshore. In 1837 the federal government sent Lieutenant Napoleon L. Coste to investigate the high number of shipwrecks along a section of the Outer Banks.  He recommended the construction of a lighthouse on or near Bodie Island. The first lighthouse was built for low cost rather than longevity, within two years of completion it was leaning and in danger of collapse. The second was opened in 1859 only to be destroyed in 1861 by retreating Confederate troops. The third and current lighthouse was lit in 1872. It is now owned by the National Parks Service as part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. At the time of writing it was closed for restoration.

Waterfront at Beaufort

A settlement was established in 1709 on the site of a Coree Indian village called Cwarioc (fish town). In 1713 the settlement was owned by Robert Turner and he gave surveyor Richard Graves the task of laying out a town that was to be called Beaufort. The pirate Blackbeard was a regular visitor to the North Carolina coast and in 1718 he stranded some of his crew in Old Topsail Inlet (now Beaufort Inlet). Legend suggests that some of the stranded pirates may have settled in the town. The possibility that some of its early citizens were former pirates didn’t stop Beaufort from embarking on a long period of steady growth as a port and a fishing town.

Fort Macon, Atlantic Beach

Protecting North Carolina’s complex coastline from raiders and invaders was never easy but it was essential to protect the only deepwater port at Beaufort Inlet. Construction of Fort Dobbs began on Bogue Banks in 1756, but it was never finished. Strained relations with Britain after the Revolutionary War resulted in the construction of Fort Hampton in 1808-9. It helped to protect the Beaufort area during the War of 1812 but was washed away in 1826. Fort Macon was built as a replacement, and was garrisoned in 1834. The only action that it saw was in 1862 during the Civil War when Union forces took it from the Confederates after heavy bombardment. The Fort became a State Park in  1923, but it reverted to military use for the duration of World War II. Click Tab 2 to see the  Mess Room.

Carteret Academy Building, Front Street, Beaufort

Beaufort has many old buildings and one of the best is this one on on Front Street, overlooking Taylor's Creek. Built in 1842 the Carteret Academy was otherwise known as the Beaufort Female Academy. It was a school for girls from the Outer Banks barrier islands. The school room was located on the ground floor while the two upper floors were used as the living quarters.

North Carolina Coast


Click on Minimap to navigate

Home > US States > The SouthNorth Carolina >




 Bodie Island Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC, USA
 Waterfront at Beaufort, NC, USA
 Carteret Academy Building, Front Street, Beaufort, NC, USA
 Fort Macon, Atlantic Beach, NC, USA
Tab 1
Tab 2


- The drive along the barrier islands
- The confusion between Beaufort, North Carolina (pronounced BOW-fort) and Beaufort, South Carolina (pronounced BEW-fart), Can’t one of them change the spelling of their name to match the pronunciation? 
Our View
We like 5
But not 5

To move forwards or backwards through the North Carolina  trail click the arrows above, or select your next destination on the Minimap.

North Carolina MinimapOhioGeorgiaSouth CarolinaTennesseeVirginiaWest VirginiaKentucky
North Carolina MinimapOhioGeorgiaSouth CarolinaTennesseeVirginiaWest VirginiaKentucky
State Page


© Mike & Jen Elsden 1981 - 2019

The contents of this page may not be reproduced in full or in part without permission

Oh! Canada Home
50 Plus DC Home