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a short history of obx sand dunes

There was a time when the ocean rolled across Outer Banks beaches merging with the sounds during storms. As John Tucker, writing for Our State Magazine, explains, the sand dunes of the Outer Banks have a history all their own.

Currituck Beach Lighthouse peering over the edge of a Corolla sand dune.

Currituck Beach Lighthouse peering over the edge of a Corolla sand dune. Photo Kip Tabb

“In the 16th century, when explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano anchored on what was likely Hatteras Island, he believed the narrow barrier islands were the only land separating the Atlantic from the Pacific. The forested Outer Banks were lovely, but vulnerable; for centuries, the 200-mile island chain had weathered storm tides and hurricanes, acting as a shock absorber for the mainland.

Until recently, inhabitants of the islands never realized that the land underneath them was slowly moving west. The pummeling water and wind propelled sands across the island like waves, sealing off inlets. Over time, the ocean side eroded as the sound side grew. The sands created dunes that rolled over each other like a bulldozer’s tread.”

 

So much a part of Outer Banks scenery, the sand dunes along the shoreline have a fascinating history. Learn more in Our State Magazine.

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