The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
The Graveyard of the Atlantic Today
Today, however, the Diamond Shoals and the Graveyard of the Atlantic isn't as treacherous to modern sailors. Obviously, World War I and World War II provided the Graveyard of the Atlantic with some of its most notorious causalities, but as the 20th Century stretched on, technology and lifesaving advancements helped prevent further casualties along North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Weather tracking advancements allow meteorologists to predict hurricanes and storms days in advance, and tracking systems which are standard on boats, like GPS devices, allow sailors to monitor the depth of the water and the coastline, avoiding the risk of running aground on the sandbars of Diamond Shoals.
In addition, the necessity of the small merchant ships that swarmed along the coast in the 1700s and 1800s is no longer needed, and the merchant ships and maritime commerce has declined. While the introduction of international trading and international seafood supply has been a blow to local fishermen, it has also assisted in the declining number of sailors who have to travel through the waters of the Graveyard of the Atlantic. In fact, the majority of modern boats that trickle through the Diamond Shoals are privately owned pleasure boats, such as yachts and sailboats that are meandering down the coast or taking a diversion from the neighboring Intracoastal Waterway.
The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
In memory of the hundreds of shipwrecks and sailors that were lost along the Outer Banks, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum was constructed in Hatteras Village and opened its doors to the public in 2000. Shaped like an ark, with timbers reminiscent of the shipwrecks spotted offshore, the 4,000 square foot museum is a public, non-profit, educational institution. According to its statement of purpose, the museum is dedicated to the preservation, advancement and presentation of the maritime history and shipwrecks of the North Carolina Outer Banks from the earliest periods of exploration and colonization to the present day.
Exhibits are generally focused on a single wreck or event, such as the Billy Mitchell bombing or the U-85, the first U-boat sunk during WWII. In addition, many renowned authors and historians visit the museum to give lectures and lead educational sessions. Local historians, such as Danny Couch, owner of Hatteras Tours and President of the Board of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, often make appearances for both historical lectures and local storytelling. The website offers a comprehensive list of upcoming lectures and special sessions for the public.
Click here to visit the Museum's website, which offers a comprehensive list of upcoming lectures and special sessions for the public, as well as information about the museum's current showcased exhibits and stories.
The Dark History of The Graveyard of the Atlantic
But real or imaginary, historical or plain old local legend, the Graveyard of the Atlantic is notorious for spurring tales of heroism, terror, and unimaginable dangers at sea. For hundreds of years, it has both captivated and terrified sailors from all over the world, and serves as a deadly reminder of the East Coast's turbulent maritime history.
While modern visitors to the Outer Banks won't fear the Diamond Shoals as their predecessors did, the shipwrecks peeking out of the ocean and the rough currents that consistently bring in the big catch of the day will always be around to tell visitors and locals of the dark reputation and history of the Graveyard of the Atlantic.