Founded in 1753, the town of Portsmouth on the Outer Banks was a lively place of 505 people. Shipping was an important activity because inbound ships were stopped by the shallow waters and had to unload cargo at Portsmouth into smaller, shallow-draft vessels that could carry it across to the mainland. Activity in the town reached a peak in the mid-19th-century, afterward declined because of hurricanes, channels that filled with sand, and shipping activities falling off. By the early 1970s, the last residents had departed. All that remains of the town are 20 structures, including a post office, church, a schoolhouse, and several cemeteries.