Kinnakeet Home: A Place of Refuge
By RHONDA J. ROUGHTON
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
Troilus and Gressida, Act 3, scene 3
Kinnakeet Home blogs went online last fall, but this is the first time publishing with Island Free Press. Kinnakeet Home is all about life on Hatteras Island, its history and its people. Avon is my hometown.
the course of many years living and raising a family here, I have
experienced island life at its best and at its worst. Storms are
expected during hurricane season and nor’easters in the winter. These
storms can radically alter everyday life as well as drastically change
the land around us. Those of us who live or vacation here regularly
understand the unique challenges of life on a barrier island. The
drama found only at the edge of the sea plays out in our everyday
Island is different from the northern Outer Banks in that much of the
island is part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This was our
country’s first national seashore, established by Congress on January
Island, at 50 miles long, is one of the longest islands in the
continental United States. The majority of the island is part of the
national seashore, so is undeveloped. There are 7 villages with a year
round population of around 4,001 (as of the 2000 census).
Hatteras Seashore covers 24,470 acres, 4,655 of which make up Pea
Island National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge was sectioned off by the
government in 1937.
this region was popular for waterfowl hunting, recreational and
commercial fishing, and farming operations. The area was well-stocked
with ducks, geese and a great variety of fowl for hunting.
Island National Wildlife Refuge begins at the northernmost end of the
island and is about 13 miles long. A drive along Highway 12 will take
you through the refuge. There are several types of ecosystems in the
refuge: beach and dunes, fresh and brackish ponds, salt flats and salt
marsh. These ecosystems are host to a variety of wildlife.
to a fact sheet published by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the
refuge shelters over 365 species of birds, 25 species of mammals, 24
species of reptiles, and 5 species of amphibians. Ducks, geese, swans,
wading birds, and shore birds are some of the migratory birds that can
be found seasonally at the refuge. The refuge has manageable waterfowl
and water bird impoundments.
name “Pea Island” came from a small plant with tiny pink flowers that
grew into beans. These “dune peas” provided wintering snow geese a
reliable food source.
Island is along the “Atlantic Flyway”, the route that most East Coast
migratory birds take on their way north or south for the season. Pea
Island Refuge provides a valuable stop to rest before they continue
north or south on their journey.
area has small ponds or salt flats that border the edge of NC Highway
12. As you drive through, depending on the time of year, you may see
great concentrations of Canadian geese, egrets, white swans, and ducks.
greatest variety of bird species are found at Pea Island during spring
and fall migrations. After strong cold fronts, land bird migratory
birds can be seen along the dikes at Pea Island as well as at the
northern tip near the Oregon Inlet Bridge.
refuge’s visitors’ center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are
two trails accessible by the visitors’ center, the North Pond Trail and
the Salt Flats Trail. These trails have overlooks, towers, and spotting
you park at the visitors’ center and walk over to the ocean, you can
see the exposed boiler and smokestack of a shipwreck from the beach.
The Steamer Oriental shipwrecked during a storm on May 16, 1862. The
Oriental was 218’ long, 34’ wide and 21’ deep. It could carry up to 100
passengers and was rented by the US Army during the Civil War to carry
Federal troops and supplies. It shipwrecked during this war while on
its way to Port Royal, SC. All passengers and crew survived.
refuge is defined as a shelter or protection from danger or trouble. We
share the same need with the wildlife flocking to these shores: a
need for refuge from the challenges of life. On Hatteras Island
we can experience the ebb and flow of tides, the sound of crashing
waves, and nights lit only by stars and moon. Life surrounded by
sea and sound. A refuge for us all.
To Read More of Rhonda's Blogs click here.