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Currituck County: More than a vacation destination

5. Spanish Mustangs of Corolla. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Currituck County is arguably superior regarded than all of the other Albemarle counties. But it is not recognised for its 17th century settlers or its roots of American Quakerism like other nearby counties.

Rather, Currituck County contains a extend of the Outer Financial institutions, a region of sand and surf frequented by around 1 million persons just about every calendar year. But Currituck County’s record is far more than beach front homes and recreation. It is a county of agriculture, political management, and tales of intriguing persons who lived on each sides of Currituck Seem.

The best way to have an understanding of the record of this distinctive county is by its two geographic halves. The western half of Currituck County, stretching from North River to Currituck Seem and the Virginia border, was settled all over 1650 as portion of the Virginian migration to the Albemarle area. In accordance to David Leroy Corbitt, Currituck started out as one particular of the authentic precincts of Albemarle County prior to starting to be a county of its individual in 1739.

1 of the earliest settlers was Thomas Jarvis, who initially lived in Perquimans County in the vicinity of leaders this kind of as George Durant and Nathaniel Batts. Jarvis inevitably served on the governor’s council and as deputy governor of North Carolina. In advance of his loss of life in 1694, Jarvis moved to his plantation on Whites Island in Currituck County, now identified as Church Island east of Coinjock. 

4. Thomas Jordan Jarvis. Source: Wikimedia Commons
4. Thomas Jordan Jarvis. Supply: Wikimedia Commons

The Jarvis relatives finished up becoming 1 of the most influential in the county’s background. Samuel Jarvis was a longtime political chief in the county who fought in the Revolution in accordance to David Stick. Thomas Jordan Jarvis served as governor of North Carolina and assisted to identified what later on turned East Carolina University.

Agriculture has dominated the history and economic system of Currituck County’s western 50 percent. Early wheat and tobacco society was supplemented by logging and shingle production from the trees in the county’s swamps. These pursuits, like nearly all agricultural procedures in eastern North Carolina at this time, utilised slaves. According to the Hergesheimer map of 1860, Currituck’s inhabitants was 35% enslaved, which was the lowest overall in the Albemarle nonetheless higher than 45 other North Carolina counties.

In transportation, Currituck County benefitted from a person of North Carolina’s couple of antebellum canals. The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, done in 1857 as noted in Alexander Crosby Brown’s book, connected the Albemarle Sound with Norfolk by way of a channel reduce as a result of Currituck County at the city of Coinjock. There was also a port in Currituck County for a time, but it was normally of negligible dimension and ceased to function when Currituck Inlet shut up in the 18th century.

Currituck County Courthouse. Source: Susan Rodriguez
Currituck County Courthouse. Image: Susan Rodriguez

Like Camden County to the west, there are no integrated towns in Currituck County. The greatest communities in the western half are Moyock, Grandy, and Coinjock. Currituck is a small local community on Currituck Sound that incorporates the historic jail and the 19th century courthouse, a sizable brick structure explained by Ruth Minimal-Stokes as owning noteworthy neoclassical aspects.

A single of North Carolina’s number of remaining Rosenwald faculties, which are colleges created for African Us citizens in the early 20th century, is at this time getting restored nearby. Currituck also includes a ferry to Knotts Island, a historic island in Currituck Sound that is made up of a wildlife refuge and a vineyard.

Coinjock Colored School, a Rosenwald school being renovated in the community of Barco, 2016. Source: Eric Medlin
Coinjock Coloured Faculty, a Rosenwald college being renovated in the group of Barco in 2016. Photograph: Eric Medlin

The jap half of Currituck County has a a great deal distinct history dominated by tourism and the shifting nature of the Outer Financial institutions. Regarded as Currituck Banking companies, this area applied to be an island until eventually Currituck Inlet at the northern edge shut up in the 19th century. Until the development of Dare County in 1870, Currituck County’s japanese area originally stretched down to the region of present-day Kitty Hawk the recent border, a line north of Duck, applied to be the now-crammed Caffey’s Inlet. 

The to start with European to go to the area may perhaps have been Giovanni De Verazzano, who explored parts of the Outer Banking institutions in 1524. Early settlers were couple and far concerning. William Byrd reviewed two of them in a tale relayed by David Stick in his “History of the Outer Banking institutions.” The inhabitants described by Byrd had been hermits who lived in a hut, “subsisted chiefly on Oysters,” and wore no clothing apart from for their beards and hair.

7. Whalehead Club. Source: Library of Congress
Whalehead, a property later transformed into a clubhouse, was designed in 1922 on the Currituck Sound. Picture: Library of Congress

In the mid-19th century, Currituck Banking companies commenced to bring in rich readers. Inspired by tales of significant flocks of geese, the first shooting club opened in the region in 1874. It was followed in 1922 by the Whalehead Club, an ornate lodge occupying 35 acres of what was then undisturbed marsh.

A person of North Carolina’s famed lighthouses, the Currituck Beach Light, was constructed in 1875 in the neighborhood of Corolla. It is tied for the 2nd-tallest lighthouse in North Carolina with the Bodie Island Light-weight and can be climbed quite a few months out of the yr.

2. Currituck Beach Light. Source: Library of Congress
The 1875 Currituck Beach front Light-weight in Corolla. Photo: Library of Congress

By the 1920s, eastern Currituck County started to open up up to tourists from across the region. Tourism was facilitated by the Very good Roadways Movement and a variety of vital bridges, most notably the Baum Bridge in 1928 and the Wright Memorial Bridge in 1930. Visitors loved the white sand beaches, hunting grounds, and the wild horses in Corolla.

Eventually, Carova Seaside turned a secluded tourist vacation spot. It is notable for currently being only obtainable by boat or by driving on the beach front. As Kip Tabb wrote in a 2017 short article on progress at the seashore, “Although targeted traffic has been escalating, the lack of infrastructure and paved roads has retained visitation modest by comparison to other pieces of the Outer Banks.”

The distinctions among japanese and western Currituck County are stark. Eastern Currituck County’s inhabitants swells in the summer time months to about 50,000 persons, far more than double the year-spherical population of the total county. Travelers are confined in the western half while comprising practically the whole economic climate of the jap half.

The vacationers and tourists on Currituck Banks consist of some of the wealthiest and most highly effective individuals in the entire world. Previous Supreme Courtroom Justice Antonin Scalia owned a household in Corolla, and Invoice Gates was rumored in 2021 to have as soon as rented 1. In distinction, western Currituck County, which is the home of the majority of Currituck’s 1,377 African People, is rural, isolated and generally absolutely free from superstar sightings.

A onetime roadside gas station in Grandy. Source: Library of Congress
A onetime roadside gasoline station in Grandy. Source: Library of Congress

These disparate circumstances in between the two halves will only continue to expand. The western fifty percent will probably be bolstered by the mid-Currituck bridge and the growth of Elizabeth Metropolis and Hampton Roads. This portion of Currituck County could come to be both a halt on the way to the Outer Banks or a distant bed room neighborhood for Chesapeake and Suffolk, Virginia.

The eastern 50 %, on the other hand, will proceed to appeal to vacationers but is slash off from Virginia by Bogus Cape State Park, which does not make it possible for vehicular accessibility from North Carolina. These differing paths and activities give Currituck County its character and make it just one of the most outstanding counties in all of North Carolina.