Carroll A. Deering Artifacts

wooden ship planks frame the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum’s store. An elaborately engraved silver flask crafted in a repoussé, art nouveau design sits in an acrylic case in the main gallery. A handsome ship’s bell is exhibited nearby, and through a massive glass window, a capstan can be seen. These are artifacts from a five-masted schooner that represents one of the Outer Banks most curious mysteries.

On January 31, 1921, what’s called The Ghost Ship of Diamond Shoals, Carroll A. Deering, grounded. The 2114-ton vessel was traveling in ballast, and a surfman spotted her on Diamond Shoals, with her sails set. The ship eventually washed ashore but not before lifesavers from Hatteras Inlet, Creeds Hill, Cape Hatteras, and Big Kinnakeet Life-Saving Stations attempted to reach her. They came within a quarter of a mile but were unable to see her name or signs of life. The lifeboats were missing from the ship. Lifesavers assumed her abandoned. It took four days for the seas to calm down enough to board the vessel. When reached, her seams were split apart and her hull full of water. Food was on the stove, and charts were scattered about. Wreckers took off what they could remove. She eventually was dynamited.

Much speculation surrounds the mystery of Carroll A. Deering including abandonment, piracy, and mutiny. Her wreckage floated up onto a beach near Hatteras. The artifacts remain on display year round at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum to remind us of The Ghost Ship of Diamond Shoals and keep us wondering about the destiny of the crew who disappeared in a wintry storm nearly 100 years ago.

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