Historical Sites of Hatteras Island, NC

Hatteras Island is a place of beauty and rich in history. Anytime pirates, Native Americans, shipwrecks, and an entire colony vanishes there is bound to be historical sites worth visiting. History buffs are guaranteed to find landmarks, structures of significance and information that is truthful and embellished along the coast line of the Outer Banks NC. We look forward to sharing these and other historical destinations of Hatteras Island with you on your next visit.

Frisco Native American Museum

The Frisco Native American Museum opened in 1987. That may not sound historical, but it was 50+ years in the making and the building itself, which dates back to 1880, has a bountiful history as a general store, gathering place, post office, and shell shop.

Founders, Carl and Joyce Bornfriend who married in 1986 discovered a mutual love for historical preservation. They were also both educators who brought more than a half-century of experience to the task of creating the museum. They became the heritage keepers at a time when many people did not realize the importance of preserving Native American artifacts.

For the first four years, Carl and Joyce operated the museum on the weekends during the school year and full-time during their summer break. The museum was able to acquire the land for the nature trails in 1989 and open a new gift shop. And in 1990, Carl was able to retire from the school division and operate the museum full-time. A spacious pavilion was constructed on the nature trail in 1991.

Hurricane Emily in 1992 caused significant damage to the museum. However, in 1995 the recovery brought about a two-story addition, which provided a research facility, preparation areas, expanded storage space and the opportunity to convert the old gift shop into a Natural History Center!

In 2005, the museum underwent another major renovation, adding more than a thousand square feet of new display area, relocating the gift shop, creating a small bookstore, construction of a small observation room in the Natural History Center overlooking the bird sanctuary and construction of a floating dock on the nature trail.

The nature trail was re-designed in 2010, creating a dance circle under the trees. The new circle debuted with the 1st Annual Living History Weekend entitled, Dancing Moccasins and the 12th Annual Inter-Tribal Pow Wow, Journey Home.

Avon Fishing Pier

It’s a Hatteras Island landmark. The Avon Fishing Pier was the first pier constructed on Hatteras Island. It opened in 1962. It is 600 feet long and completely wooden. It is constructed with buckled planks which cause the pier to look like it is uneven and unlevel as it bobs up and down with the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The red drum fish, that make seasonal appearances, attract fishermen from all over the country. The Avon Fishing Pier sealed its reputation as a world-class fisherman’s destination in 1984 when a world-record breaking red drum, clocking in at a little over 94 pounds, was caught just yards away from the pier structure. Since then, drum hunters have flocked to the Avon Pier in hopes of making their own record-breaking catch.

Red drum is not the only fish in town on Hatteras Island though. Spot, bluefish, mullet, pompano, cobia and mackerel can be caught, depending on the season. Honestly, any day spent on the Avon Fishing Pier is a great day! The pier has plenty of benches, several fish cleaning tables and a wide landing at the end of the structure to ensure everyone that wants to, can cast a line.

The pier hosts the annual 4th of July Fireworks display. Local experts set up and shoot off hundreds of fireworks which can be seen from virtually every vantage point in Avon. Thousands gather around the pier beaches for the best views, and there’s often live music and food vendors available on the premises as well. The Avon Fishing Pier is also home to several fishing tournaments, including the Junior Fishing Tournament, and of course, an annual Red Drum Tournament which coincides with the “drum run” season, when thousands of red drum can be spotted just yards off the beach.

The pier house is staffed with local experts who are reliable resources as to what’s biting and when. There is a gift shop and convenience store on the premises; and a restaurant and 18-hole mini golf course located close by that are open seasonally. Like all Hatteras Island beaches, the shoreline bordering the pier is a public beach and is open for all visitors. Walk the wooden planks, feel the sway of the pilings and listen for the tales of angler’s conquests on this local icon, The Avon Fishing Pier.

Canadian Hole

In between the villages of Avon and Buxton is one of Hatteras Island’s most scenic locations, Canadian Hole. The National Park Service (NPS) constructed four-wheel-drive beach access ramps in the mid-1950s along with campgrounds and public parking areas. This particular sound front location was initially visited by locals and visitors with small, easy to launch skiffs and the sunset lovers who would pull in for one of the island’s most scenic spots to watch the evening show.

In the early 1980s, visitors from upstate New York and Canada, who had started windsurfing across the Great Lakes, began experimenting on the waters off the Pamlico Sound, launching from the spacious yet desolate beaches of what is now Canadian Hole, appropriately named to honor its roots as a windsurfing paradise, discovered and popularized by Canadians.

It is now the focal point of exceptional East Coast windsurfing. Hatteras Island visitors will notice clusters of vehicles and expansive colorful kites swooping across the open waters of the Pamlico Sound during the spring, summer and fall months. Windsurfers can enjoy steady 15-20 mph winds that are sustained by the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a 30 mile-wide body of saltwater with few obstructions that’s positively ideal for long, fast glides. Every year, windsurfers will travel thousands of miles just to access this small stretch of shoreline, and after a day of riding the local winds, all will attest that the journey is well worth it.

You do not have to a windsurfer or kiteboarder to enjoy the charm of Canadian Hole. The area is ideal for families with young children, beachcombers looking for treasures, romantics who enjoy a sound sunset, kayakers and stand up paddle boarders who have discovered that Canadian Hole is an ideal place to launch their sport of choice. Another wonderful Outer Banks destination, recognized globally, where memories last a lifetime.

History is All Around on Hatteras Island

We certainly don’t want to overlook the obvious historical places such as the Chicamacomico Life Saving Station established in 1874, a predecessor to the modern U. S. Coast Guard. The station features fantastic architecture and special summer programs and events for families. This year celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Mirlo Rescue; or The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum located at the tip of Hatteras Village where artifacts and historical information on shipwrecks and life-saving stories will entertain you for hours; and of course, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, authorized in 1794 and first lit in October 1803, powered by whale oil. Simply put, multiple visits to Hatteras Island will be necessary to fully enjoy all the historical sites the southern beaches of the Outer Banks NC have to offer. We look forward to your visit and we’ll have the lighthouses lit to welcome you.