12 Jun “The Graveyard of the Atlantic” – My First Week at Cape Hatteras National Seashore
In my first five days at Cape Hatteras National Seashore as a Fish and Feathers intern, I became immersed in the deep history and culture of the islands. Within four days, I was able to visit all 70 miles of the barrier islands, having to catch a ferry at times to even get to remote locations.
Established in 1953 and dedicated in 1958, Cape Hatteras was the first National Seashore recognized by the United States Congress. The seashore is home to a rich history before the 14th century. The Lost Colony of Roanoke, located at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in Manteo, N.C., holds the record of the first attempt at a permanent settlement in America by European Settlers. Orville and Wilbur Wright conducted the first successful airplane flight in Kitty Hawk, N.C. Cape Hatteras is home to three different lighthouses on Bodie Island, Buxton, and Ocracoke Island. The lighthouse in Buxton, dubbed the “Cape Hatteras Lighthouse,” is the tallest brick lighthouse constructed in America. Today, Cape Hatteras National Seashore has over 3.2 million visitors a year looking to enjoy the history and the long coastline of beaches.
While visiting different parts of the park, I was intrigued to hear the other names locals and visitors had for the park; however, the one that stood out the most to me was “The Graveyard of the Atlantic.” Some say this nickname came about due to the many sea vessels that have crashed along the shores of Cape Hatteras due to sand shoals, but others say the name comes from the number of ships downed by German U-Boats during WWII. Either way, the shores are home to several different wrecked ships that can be visible during low tide, dating back to the Civil War.