Thanks to a team of local volunteers, a new fence has been installed on the sound-facing border of the historic Salvo Community Cemetery, (also known as the Salvo Day Use Cemetery), to further protect it from damage or accidental intruders. The new fence is part of a wave of improvements to the 146-year-old landmark, which includes new landscaping, installing signage for visitors, and resetting a handful of dislodged headstones.
Situated along the Pamlico Sound on the northern edge of the Salvo Day Use Area, (which is a popular soundside beach access site for visitors), the Salvo Community Cemetery has changed dramatically – and for the better – in the past few years. Home to the descendants of many local families on the Outer Banks, the cemetery has been slowly revitalized, and in the past decade, saved from complete destruction.
After a series of hurricanes in the 2010s, including 2011’s devastating Hurricane Irene, the cemetery began crumbling rapidly due to an eroding shoreline and little protection from the elements. Local residents, family members, and stakeholders, fearful that the gravesites would wash away, responded by embarking on a lengthy process to find a long-term solution for the local landmark.
In 2015 and 2016, a community-wide initiative was launched to prevent further devastation to the cemetery, which was losing gravesites to erosion on a regular basis. The Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Civic Association played a big role in the restoration of the site, (and served as the umbrella group to conduct the needed repairs and renovations), and they hosted fundraising campaigns to raise the estimated $120,000 to protect the cemetery.
This initiative was successful, and the formation of a protective bulkhead and armor rock barrier along the Salvo Community Cemetery was finally completed in 2018. Fencing was also bolstered on three sides of the site, to protect it further, and to keep it secure.
With the recent addition of the back fence, the cemetery is now fully enclosed on all four sides. The new fence is just one of the improvements planned for the historic site, and other initiatives are being planned for the not-so-distant future.
“We are currently working on signage to help tourists understand that the cemetery is an ‘active’ one, and not abandoned… That’s step one,” stated Robin Daniels Holt, Hatteras Island Genealogical Society Member and project organizer, in an earlier interview. “[The next step is to] develop a plan to establish ground cover to help sustain the sand before we reset the upturned stones. It would be a waste of time to reset the stones without some landscaping.”
While future renovations to the Salvo Community Cemetery are still in the planning stages, and there is no finalized timeline on what projects will be completed or when, the partnership with the National Park Service – which manages the popular public beach and the Salvo Day Use Area – is already established.
In the meantime, visitors to the Salvo Day Use Area are encouraged to use caution and to treat the active cemetery with respect. Please do not enter the cemetery, or launch watersports equipment from the bulkhead barrier, and please steer clear of vulnerable gravesites and stones, which have often been standing for a century or more.