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July 06, 2021
By Chelsea Reed
There’s so much mystery and adventure that surrounds the rustic Outer Banks coastline, it’s not surprising that the area is filled with its own original legends. This summer, we’re celebrating Outer Banks culture with five famous stories inspired by the area!
1. Blackbeard’s Lair
Shiver me timbers! This famous pirate was feared by everyone in the 1700s. From Charleston to the Carribean, Blackbeard pillaged ships everywhere in the New World. And his favorite hideout was...you guessed it, Ocracoke Island! The notorious captain finally met his end in an epic standoff with Lieutenant Robert Maynard at Teach’s Hole in Ocracoke. Daring visitors can visit the undeveloped cove today. The painting Blackbeard on the OBX by Chester Martin is a great nod to his legacy.
2. Ghost Ships in Real Life
From swashbuckling pirate movies to video games, we’ve seen plenty of tall tales about spooky ghost ships. But long before modern media spun these yarns, local Outer Bankers had their own ghost ship lore. Some say on the first night of a new moon, the flaming ship of Ocracoke can be seen sailing off the island’s coast. Another story states that the U.S. Coast Guard near Cape Lookout could not find signs of life on the abandoned Carol A. Deering… but they discovered the table was already set, waiting for its occupants.
Bog Lady is an imaginative painting by Chester Martin that pays homage to the vibrant history of ghost stories in the Outer Banks.
3. Graveyard of the Atlantic
Shipwrecks are synonymous with Outer Banks history thanks to dangerous currents and shifting sandbars. At least 5,000 ships have sunk in Outer Banks waters since the 1500s! Naturally, there are plenty of local stories about them. The sea’s latest claim is the fishing vessel Ocean Pursuit. It ran aground 50 miles south of Bodie Island last year in March 2020. The crew was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, but the ship is still stuck in the sand. Visitors and artists don’t seem to mind! The Ocean Pursuit is the subject of numerous photographs and paintings, like this one titled A New Day by Debra Kierce.
4. An Elusive White Doe
Born to colonists Elanor and Ananias Dare in what is now Roanoke Island, little Virginia Dare, as seen in Chester Martin’s painting, was the first English child born in the New World. Her family’s account is loosely told in The Lost Colony play, but there is another tale about young Virginia that is told by locals. It is said that as she grew up with the Manteo tribe, they gave her the name Winona-ska. She became beautiful and two Native American men fell in love with her--the dashing chief Okisko, and Chico, a witch doctor. When Virginia turned down Chico, he became angry and turned her into a magical white doe. Residents say you might catch the white doe roaming Manteo forests today.
5. The Real “Outer Banks” Show
Whether or not you have binge watched the hit Netflix show “Outer Banks,” you may be surprised to learn the major differences between Hollywood and the authentic life of a Banker. (Yes that’s the name the locals call themselves, not Pogues or Kooks.) There is, however, great surfing here! Local artist Betty C. White captures the flavor of Outer Banks surfing in Riding the Waves. It’s one of the reasons why so many people love to visit these beautiful beaches.
You can catch the authentic feel of Banker life yourself in Outer Banks Squared - The Art Show. Browse through each beautiful piece online or in person at Seaside Art Gallery. Who knows, you might even find some treasure...in the form of art!
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