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The Ocracoke Inlet Today

Image by Gene Gallin

The existence of the Navy and Coast Guard installations on Ocracoke during World War II brought numerous servicemen from outside the area and had an invigorating effect on the local economy. Ocracoke prior to the war was seeing approximately 3,000 visitors each summer to fish and swim, while another 500 visitors flocked to the island each fall and winter for duck hunting (United States Congress No.325:6). The establishment of Cape Hatteras National Seashore in 1953 brought a steady flux of outsiders. Restricting the flow of tourists were the difficulties in reaching the island and the lack of roads on the island itself. These impediments were eliminated in 1957 with the creation of the state’s establishment of year-round, toll-free ferry service across Hatteras Inlet, and the completion of a paved road between Ocracoke Village and the ferry terminal.


Since 1953 all of Ocracoke Island, with the exception of Ocracoke Village, has been under federal ownership as a part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, administered by the National Park Service. The island remains unspoiled and in its natural state, the only improvements being the state road and about ten miles of sand-fence barrier.

Further reading:

Ocracoke: The Pearl of the Outer Banks by Ray McAllister is available for purchase in our online gift shop.

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