The castle at Jockey's Ridge

In a long-standing game of peek-a-boo, a castle in the sand at Jockey's Ridge State Park is once again visible to motorists traveling along South Croatan Highway (U.S. 158 Bypass) near milepost 12 in Nags Head.

It's the last remnant of Jockey's Ridge Mini-Golf, which occupied about 3 acres of the park from 1975 to 1986. Players not only had to deal with tricky holes but also blowing and migrating sand, which was always on the fairways.

But the greater challenge fell on the attraction’s owners.

“They closed (the course) in the winter,” says George Barnes, who served as park superintendent from 1975 to 2009. “Every spring they had to dig it out.”

The 18-hole miniature golf course was owned and operated by the Percy Meekins family of Manteo, who deeded the land to the state in September 1987. Park officials decided to leave the castle in the sand to demonstrate the tug-of-war between southwest and northeast winds that keep the dunes in motion.

Visitors can see the castle jutting out of the rolling sand dunes when entering on the east side of the park.

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