It would take pages and pages for me to even get started with Buxton's diverse and exciting history. This area was first utilized for its fishing and seafood by the Native Americans but it is a stretch to say that it was occupied by them. Although this is a beautiful place most of the year, constant winds and extremely harsh winters with little or no shelter made this area a formidable task just to survive here. When European explorers first found the area they considered Hatteras Island as a sort of oceanic "filling station". Most of these early funded explorations had small ships running ahead of the main exploration to scout out the need for things like safe harbor and the wood from our local live oak trees to make hull repairs. At that time, the vastly wooded Hatteras Island was a main stopping point for these explorers. Exploration castoffs and animals (like the ponies at Ocracoke) were the area's earliest European inhabitants.
Hatteras even once had a train track running the length of the island to haul out its huge supply of cut lumber mostly from the Buxton Woods. You can still see the remnants of an old trestle on the sound side as you pass an area called "New Inlet." Yep, that was once an inlet that eventually filled back in. That's why you will see signs entering the island from the north that refer to Pea Island which was once a separate island from Hatteras Island. Atlantic storms and the ever shifting sands of this island are constantly slowly changing its location similar to the slow turning of the tracks on a tank.
Naturally due to its early history most of the inhabitants were early seafarers and lived and died by the sea. They fished for their food and became so good at providing they realized that selling their catch could eventually provide them with incomes.
Also, due to the many shoals and large amount of boat traffic that developed along the Atlantic Coast, locals became the experts on safe navigation of these waters. Many were employed to help rescue those sailors that weren't aware of the dangers and ended up in peril of becoming a part of the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The pirates which abounded in the area sure didn't help the dangerous reputation of the area either.
The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was erected to help steer passing ships out away from treacherous Diamond Shoals near Buxton, NC. This tallest lighthouse in the US has become a familiar state and national symbol.
Although there were no actual major battles fought in Frisco, Hatteras Island is not without having its own history involved in wartime. During the Civil War, the Confederates constructed two forts east of the inlet: Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark. Both these forts were attacked and surrendered to the Federal forces in 1861 and are now just bare beach.It is also possible that the citizens of Hatteras Island may have been the closest non-military United States participants during World War II. Hatteras Island residents were not allowed to burn any home lights during the evenings because German U-boats that were patrolling just off the island would use the lights from the island to silhouette and torpedo the allied cargo ships.
Few people are aware that some German spies were actually apprehended on Hatteras Island and eventually executed. Did you know that there was also a secret radar tower and radio station on the west side of Buxton that was critical to the war effort? These brief tidbits are just a little bit of teasing information intended to wet your appetite on the rich history of this fantastic area. Buxton and Hatteras Island are well worth visiting and getting to know!