Jockey’s Ridge has an intriguing history from its namesake, a shifting sand dune, to vanished buildings buried under the sand. Today, the ridge is a huge draw on the Outer Banks and is part of the Jockey’s Ridge State Park. The park offers numerous outdoor activities for everyone, including the handicapped.
A popular site for beachgoers is a trip to Jockey’s Ridge, the largest natural sand dune system on the East Coast. In this article, Drew Perry describes a day of hiking the sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
This sand dune at Nag’s Head was made famous before five UNC seniors made it a class project’s subject. It was made famous—or infamous—by controversy generated between developers, environmentalists, and citizens from plans to build beachside subdivisions at its base.
Carolista Baum participated in a citizens’ drive to save Jockey Ridge and Chicamacomico Coast Guard Station. She played a pivotal role in the North Carolina Nature Conservancy and logged volunteer hours for projects such as Chapel Hill preservation. She acted as publisher for Brandon Press and Carolista Designers, producer of historical and educational coloring books. From such endeavors, Baum may be regarded as a woman worthy of remembrance.
As the author proposed, the coast contained a treasure trove of treats to sate the interest palate of any visitor. History buffs could have their fill in towns such as New Bern, Memorials such as Kittyhawk and houses such as Tryon Palace. For lovers of the great outdoors, there were the Elizabethan Gardens, Jockey’s Ridge, and Merchants Millpond State Park.
Whether novice or expert, any visitor could venture the great outdoors from mountains to coast. Watercraft activities included canoeing in Chowan River and whitewater rafting in the Ocoee River. Adventure could be found in forests such as Nantahala through hiking and backpacking. For those mountain trekkers, there was horseback riding through the Great Smokies and rock climbing on Shortoff. Coastal Plain adventures included bicycling along the Manteo to Murphy stretch and hand gliding off of Jockey’s Ridge.
The author suggested Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci could not have imagined what would become of the sparse strip of land standing between the Atlantic Ocean and Coastal mainland. How much has become of the Outer Banks was in its attraction power to residents and visitors, activities like sand surfing and sailing, hand gliding and sunbathing.
Fans of dancing fads from the late 1930s to early 1970s and from Eastern North Carolina to Tidewater Virginia got their entertainment fill from a venue that became an establishment: Nags Head Casino. Begun as living quarters for stonemasons building the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the site for seminal memories included bowling alleys and was near another site synonymous with Nags Head: Jockey’s Ridge.