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UNC Press - Longleaf Services

NC 12 Gateway to the Outer Banks

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Connecting communities from Corolla in the north to Ocracoke Island in the south, scenic North Carolina Highway 12 binds together the fragile barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks. Throughout its lifetime, however, NC 12 has faced many challenges—from recurring storms and shifting sands to legal and political disputes—that have threatened this remarkable highway’s very existence. Through the unique lens of the road’s rich history, Dawson Carr tells the story of the Outer Banks as it has unfolded since a time when locals used oxcarts to pull provisions from harbors to their homes and the Wright Brothers struggled over mountainous dunes.
Throughout, Carr captures the personal stories of those who have loved and lived on the Outer Banks. As Carr relates the importance of NC 12 and its transformation from a string of beach roads to a scenic byway joining miles of islands, he also chronicles the history of a region over the last eighty-five years, showing how the highway and the residents of the Outer Banks came to rely on each other.