Shipwrecks on the Outer Banks

outer banks ship wrecks

Cape Hatteras Photo Courtesy of Eric Perterson.

Most ships wrecked along the 70 miles of coast have been broken to fragments and scattered or sunk by storms that followed the wreck. Only a few large pieces of ships remain. Most are buried from sight for months at a time by surf or drifting sand, and may be uncovered later. This list locates some remains that are easy to find and usually visible. Day to day changes may occur to cover or remove any wreck listed.

Laura A. Barnes (1921): 4.7 miles south of Whalebone Junction, or 3.3 miles north of Oregon Inlet campground. Turn into Coquina Beach parking area. Walk over to the beach.

Oriental (1862): Seven miles south of Oregon Inlet campground, or 30 miles north of Buxton. Park at turnout for Pea Island Comfort Station. Board walk leads to wooden remains are sometimes exposed on the beach nearby. A wooden bow lies on the beach against the dune one mile north.

Margaret A. Spencer (?): Located fourteen miles south of Oregon Inlet Campground and 25-miles north of Buxton. Park on abandoned road strip one mile north of Rodanthe, walk 1.8 miles north on the beach. The wooden wreck is exposed, bottom up, at the surf line.

LST at Rodanthe (1948): Drive to the Rodanthe Fishing Pier, 15 miles south of Oregon Inlet campground, or 25 miles north of Buxton. Look north from Ramp 10 near the pier for the steel wreck in the water.

George A. Kohler (1933): Park at the turn out for Ramp 14 and walk directly to the beach. The wooden remains are almost buried near the surf. Other parts of the same vessel (?) are exposed 0.3 miles north on the beach.

Altoona (1878): Drive to the parking lot near Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. From the parking lot drive to the first stop sign and straight across the intersection. Follow the road 1.7 miles to its end in the gravel parking lot. Walk over the ramp to the beach, then south along the beach 1/2 miles and west 1/4 mile to the bow of the Altoona. Wrecked in 1878, it was uncovered in 1963. Broken by the surf in November of that year, it washed to its present location.

On Ocracoke Island: Unidentified wooden remains near the first parking turnout. For other remains, inquire at the National Park Service Visitor Center on the Ocracoke waterfront on the Harbor at Silver Lake.

Ghost Fleet Maps: Available at the Wright Brothers Museum Store in Kill Devil Hills. For more information, call (252) 441-7430.

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