Freedom and Liberty

Freedom and Liberty
I travel in Freedom but sleep in the security of Liberty (not only on the road, but in this amazing country of ours)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and The Lost Colony

One of the bridges spanning the channels
between the barrier islands
This post is from the explorations on Monday. It was a 200 mile round trip, so I was pretty tired that night. I'm playing catch up with the postings. The destination was 100 miles south to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It went through the tourist towns of Kitty Hawk and Nag's Head before reaching the narrow barrier islands. The towns are the typical tourist beach towns selling swim suits to souvenirs and renting anything that will move people.
The Ocean is on the left side over the dunes
At times the sand dunes were right on the edge of the road. Something must have happened recently because at several locations, (which I didn't take pictures) pieces of heavy equipment was moving sand away from the road. Even though Freedom has a heavy suspension for towing, she rides comfortably so the drive was an easy one. Sirius radio was turned up loud playing the Oldies from the 60's. Did any group have better voices than The Righteous Brothers? Especially, "Soul and Inspiration". I turned it up loud enough that I worried about blowing my speakers. I'm not even sure the speakers now-a-days can be blown. I remember trying to tape up the paper around some of my old speakers as a teenager. It didn't work real good, but it was better then nothing.
Oh well, every song was great an it helped me pass the time until the lighthouse came in sight. The black and white swirl is unique to the Hatteras Lighthouse and is used by ships to identify the lighthouse by it's color during the day. At night, the light flashes every 7 1/2 seconds. Since you can see more than one lighthouse at night, the ships will look for the light and time the flashes to determine which light they are seeing. The lighthouse to the south, Cape Lookout Lighthouse flashes once every 15 seconds to help distinguish it from the Cape Hatteras light.
The Hatteras lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse in the country and stands 208 feet high. In 1999 it had to be moved 1/2 mile inland because of coastal erosion caused by storms. There are over 2,300 shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina, in and around Cape Hatteras. One of the reasons is its location in relation to two main currents in the Atlantic. The cold water "Virginia Coastal Drift" is a southbound current and the "Gulf Steam" is a northbound warm water current. Ships try to stay in those currents because that increases their travel speed. It's like catching a tailwind when flying. Part of the problem is both currents come very close to the outer banks of the coastal islands before they meet near Cape Hatteras.
Until the lighthouse was lit up in 1870, captains of ships were never sure exactly where they were located. The barrier islands were so narrow in places, captains could see the bay on the other side and think it was open ocean, thus causing the ship to hit the island. The Hatteras lighthouse is a "hazard" lighthouse meaning it highlights a hazard. That is the opposite of a "safe" lighthouse that will tell a captain that he is safe as long as he can see the light. The lighthouse is automated now and a lighthouse keeper is no longer necessary. Of the more than 680 lighthouses that are still in operation in the United States, only one is currently manned with a lighthouse keeper. That lighthouse is the Boston Light on Little Brewster Island. The state with the most lighthouses is a state that doesn't even have a border with any ocean. Guesses? As your driving down the narrow island to reach Hatteras, there are several places where you can walk over the dunes to the beach. The following three pictures are one such location.

Walking up the dune

From the top of the dune looking at the far horizon

Deserted beach with only footprints

 I was an Operations Specialist (radarman) in the Navy and served aboard the U.S.S. Manitowoc (LST 1180). Every time we went to sea and sailed south we passed Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout. Just as you see them on a map today, I saw them on the radar screen. From the ship, I've seen the lights flashing their warnings. Now I've seen the lighthouse in person, nearly 40 years later.
On my way back to the campground I stopped off at Roanoke Island. I wanted to see where the lost colony was located and learn more about the 425 year old mystery.
Fort Raleigh
In school we were taught about Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims, and the Mayflower. But 13 years before the Pilgrims got here, Jamestown in Virginia was established. Jamestown is the one with Pocahontas and John Smith. That thirteen years makes the Pilgrims seem like "johnny-come-lately's". But 20 years before Jamestown was started and 33 years before Plymouth, there was Roanoke (Fort Raleigh). Between 1585 and 1587 England and Sir Walter Raleigh sent several ships across the Atlantic to establish a colony like the Spanish had done in what is now Florida and the Caribbean Islands. One of the last ships had 115 men, women and children aboard. The head of the last expedition was a man named John White who arrived with his pregnant daughter and her husband. Shortly after arriving, his granddaughter was born and became the first English child born in America. Her name, Virginia Dare. The colony began having problems with supplies, weapons and relations with the natives. It was decided that John White would return to England and come back with more supplies and people. So he left and arrived in England just in time for his ship to be confiscated to help defend England against the Spanish Armada. We know how that turned out. Due to the war, no ships, supplies or people were able to leave England to return to the colony for 3 years.
Reconstructed earthworks

When he was finally able to return, all the people were gone. The houses had been dismantled and almost everything was gone. There was not sign of a fight or struggle. No bodies or graves were located. What did remain was an earthen wall with a tall tree palisade (wall) on top. Carved into a fence post was the word "Croatoan" and on a tree the letters "Cro". Croatoan was an Indian tribe that lived on Hatteras Island to the south (yep, same place as the lighthouse). John White thought they had moved the colony there and were living with the Indians. Before he could sail there, a strong storm started coming up and the men refused to sail south towards the storm so they sailed north and went back to England. Due to several reasons, another search party was never sent. When the Jamestown colony began, part of their orders were to search for the Roanoke colonists. They didn't find them but found several interesting clues. Surviving in the early colonies was not easy. Jamestown lost 80% of their people in one year. Roanoke is the reason Jamestown must be listed as the first "permanent" English colony.

I am curious as to why the schools, at least when I was in elementary and high school, barely touched on the subject of Roanoke. When Sir Walter Raleigh was mentioned, it was usually associated with the tale of him placing his coat over a mud puddle so a woman could cross without getting her feet wet. Perhaps it was because the colony was lost due to several screw-ups that could be blamed on him and the Queen. In the summer they put on a big play for the tourists. I wonder what twist they put on the story.

It seems the older I get the more I learn about things that should have been covered in my education. It just goes to show that whoever is in charge, teaches what they believe is the truth. Ultimately the burden falls to us individually to find the truth, and if not the truth, then at least enough correct information for us to make our own informed decision. The internet is the current means for us to find all sorts of things that we never knew existed. There is talk about controlling the internet and censoring it. To do so, puts that power of what is available to for us to learn, back in the hands of the "man" and "the establishment" (LOL, the hippies had it right after all,,lol)

There are several theories about what happened to the colony and it's people. Far too many for me to list here. A quick google search will give you plenty to think about.

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya. (sorry about the tardiness of the posting)


  1. Darrell,

    I glad to see you are enjoying retirement.

    It makes me start thinking about what I will do after DROP.


    1. Hello Rhett, good to hear from you. I hope all is well. It's never to early to do some planning. It just like planning during work except for something else. Cya