Hatteras Island Lifesaving Stations

All in all, 10 lifesaving stations were built on the island of Hatteras. While keeping the names straight might be a confusing feat to mainlanders, locals know them like the back of their hand. In an effort to escape wind and storm damage, the stations were situated in the lower sand hills where they found shelter from mother nature's mood swings. For the most part, the strategy worked. Only a couple of the Hatteras Island stations had to be relocated. Here, then, is a list of what you'll find and how to get there.

Big Kinnakeet, established 1878


Location: Hatteras Island, south of Avon near Askins Creek.
Life after LSS: Severely damaged by a hurricane in 1944, Big Kinnakeet was later leveled and never rebuilt.
Claim to fame: Big Kinnakeet was especially important because it had a life-boat station on its grounds. Smaller than a life-saving station, a life-boat station stood around 24 feet from top to bottom and included a loft. It stored additional boats and equipment. Placed near the water, life-boat stations included a ramp for easy access to the sand.

Cape Hatteras, established 1880


Location: South of the lighthouse near Cape Point. Original buildings were torn down in the 1930s when the Coast Guard constructed a newer station in 1935.
Life after LSS: Maintained by National Park Service. No visitors allowed in buildings.
Claim to fame: Watched over beaches near Diamond Shoals, considered one of the most dangerous areas in the Atlantic. All seven members of the Ephraim Williams were rescued during a treacherous weather/water situation in December 22,1884. Keeper Benjamin B. Dailey and his men stoically braved huge breakers crashing ashore. An investigator of the wreck later wrote that the rescue was performed perhaps during the most tumultuous waters that anyone had ever seen.

Gull Shoal (Cedar Hummock) established 1878


Location: Hatteras Island, near Salvo
Also known as: Cedar Hummock
Life after LSS: Destroyed by a hurricane in 1944
Claim to fame: During a hurricane in 1899, a handful of ships were caught at sea. Rasmus S. Midgett single-handedly saved the schooner Priscilla. Out on his regular patrol route during raging winds and rain, Midgett stumbled upon the Priscilla as it started to break into pieces three miles south of the station. Without any equipment or assistance, Midgett took it upon himself to wade out into the violent waters nine times, rescuing all the vessel's members. He received the highest honor, the Gold Lifesaving Medal of Honor by the United States government.

Chicamacomico, established 1874


Location: Hatteras Island
Life after LSS: Restored museum featuring weekly breeches of buoy demonstrations.
Claim to fame: 1918 Mirlo rescue.

Creeds Hill, established 1878


Location: Hatteras Island, west of Frisco.
Life after LSS: Private home.
Claim to fame: Creeds Hill guarded the coastline between the Cape Hatteras and Durants life-saving stations.

Feeling the need for more space, Creeds Hill expanded its base of operation in 1918. A Chatham-style building housed the surfmen, while equipment remained stored in the original 1878 structure. The 1918 building has since been relocated to the village of Frisco for use as a private residence. However, because it endured the ugly wrath of Hurricane Isabel, Creeds Hill sustained an incredible amount of water damage and has not been lived in since 2003.

One final note about Creeds Hill: It's one of the only life-saving stations not to have an exterior sign indicating its historical significance and ties with the United States Coast Guard. If you come to visit, be sure and ask a local for directions so you can know the exact location on Highway 12 south of Nags Head.

Durants, established 1878


Location: Hatteras Island
Life after LSS: Currently being restored as part of a condominium complex.
Claim to fame: One of the first life-saving stations built on Hatteras Island. Destroyed by Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

Originally known as the Hatteras life-saving station when it was first constructed in 1878, Durants received its new name in 1882 when the Cape Hatteras Station, just a wee bit north, opened its doors. Durants stayed in business until 1937 and was later sold and relocated a few miles north, becoming the crown piece in a motel complex. Sadly, Durants met its demise Sept. 18, 2003 when Hurricane Isabel slammed ashore, leaving only the watch tower intact. Visitors can now view the watch tower at its new home, Chicamacomico.

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Hatteras Island Lifesaving Stations

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