By Maggie Miles | Correspondent
We all know about the Wright Brothers, Jockey’s Ridge and the Lost Colony, but what other cultural nuggets rest on the Outer Banks? While those sites should definitely not be missed, the Outer Banks is filled with a history of lesser-known history — interesting people, brave people, movers and shakers, crusaders, innovators and everyday people who have made our islands a more, colorful, rich and fascinating place. We’re here to tell you a few places you can go to learn about them.
NC Black Heritage Tour Sites
The NC Black Heritage Tour, launched by the African American Experience of Northeast North Carolina (AAENENC) on Juneteenth of this year, encourages a deeper understanding and recognition for the contributions of the Black community in the history-rich corridors of the Outer Banks, the Dismal Swamp, Elizabeth City, Edenton and Hertford. It connects dozens of visitable points of interest and African American influence. We suggest starting in Manteo: Learn about the Freedman’s Colony, a property Union forces developed for escaped enslaved people seeking refuge on remote Roanoke Island. Then head over to the Pea Island Cookhouse Museum to learn about the nation’s only all-black lifesaving crew. Follow along the map to find many other sites in Manteo and others throughout the Outer Banks, a total of 11 places. For more information, visit ncblackheritagetour.com/county/dare/
Frisco Native American Museum
The Frisco Native American Museum is a great place to learn about the Outer Banks’ abundant Native American history. Founded in 1987 by Carl Bornfriend, this museum not only features a gallery filled with thousands of artifacts from around the country and local tribes, but it also opens to several acres of nature trails through the maritime forest. The onsite dance circle has been the location for the 12th annual Inter-Tribal Powwow, Journey Home, the 1st annual Living History weekend and Dancing Moccasins. The museum has multiple events and programs going on; up-and-coming ones include a lecture from Bill McConnel, whom you may know from “Dual Survivor” on the Discovery Channel. He’ll discuss Survival Skills of the Carolina Algonquins on Aug. 6. They also have a Meet the Artist series that features different Native American artists every Friday evening.
Ikey D’s Grave in Ocracoke
In Ocracoke’s Springer’s Point Nature Preserve, you’ll find the gravesite of the famed Ikey D. But Ikey D. might not be the gentleman you expect. In fact, Ikey D. was a horse — the beloved horse and friend of Sam Jones, an eccentric character who lived on Ocracoke and now shares the small cemetery with his horse. Jones, born in 1893, grew up on a farm in Swan Quarter before moving to Norfolk, Virginia, to seek his riches. He led a very colorful life, collecting art, building all kinds of eclectic homes and undertaking many quirky crusades. Among them was a nationally recognized campaign against daylight saving time and also a battle with famous artist Alphaeus Phelemon Cole. It led to a syndicated CBS interview in which Jones, on television, swatted the interviewer and production crew with a broom when he didn’t like the line of questioning. At The Castle, his mansion on Ocracoke, he hosted parties where he would famously gather his friends, including Ikey D., around the piano to sing songs. You can visit the cemetery or even stay at The Castle, which is today a bed and breakfast on the island.
Moor Shore Road
We all know about the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the enormous, striking monument you can see while driving down the Bypass. But did you know there is another tiny monument that looks exactly like it tucked away in Kitty Hawk? The Wright Brothers Garage Monument sits on a front yard along the quaint residential street, Moor Shore Road. It includes a placard that reads, “On this site, the Wright Brothers flew their first glider.” Blink and you’ll miss it. It marks the site of Bob Tate’s house, the Kitty Hawk Post Master who housed the Wrights during their visit. His original home is no longer there, and the new house is a private residence. You can check out the monument by walking or driving down the road.
The Tomato Shack in Duck, NC
Get a taste of the area’s food history by visiting the turquoise and orange produce stand located off of Duck Road in the heart of town. Owner Carlton Winslow is the son of Howard Winslow, whom locals remember as a dedicated salesman who sold fresh produce door to door the ‘80s and ‘90s. Winslow grew up immersed in eastern North Carolina agriculture. Today he sells produce along with meats, milk, eggs and cheeses from friends’ farms around the area. If you want to try region’s freshest fruits and vegetables (he’ll let you sample anything you want), while Winslow regales you with his legendary anecdotes (his stories are the best!) walk up to the picturesque vegetable stand to experience Tomato Shack’s magic. Winslow and his shack strike a chord with both young and old visitors — so much so that parents share stories of their children building their own Tomato Shacks back at home, inspired to sell their “produce” and tell stories.
Whalehead Club in Historic Corolla
The Whalehead Club sports an almost “Great Gatsby”-esque history. Back in the day, the site held a hunting club for tourists seeking waterfowl. Edward Collings Knight, a wealthy industrialist from New York, and his wife Marie-Louise, a fashionista and fierce women’s rights advocate who loved to hunt, visited the area and fell in love with Whalehead. The club wouldn’t allow women — Marie-Louise included. Not many years later the club went under in the 1920s. In the ultimate heroic revenge, Collings Knight bought the property and built a grand, Art Nouveau mansion where he and his wife could both hunt to their hearts’ content and receive visitors for their lavish parties.
Intrigued? Good. Get out there and explore these lesser-known gems of the Outer Banks.