Stream On: Lost on the OBX, on Roanoke Island and in Buffalo City

By on May 21, 2020

Where did they go? In 1979 Leonard Nimoy’s Anthology series In Search of… looked for “The Lost Colony of Roanoke.” (MarinersMuseum.org)

From 1977 to 1982 Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek) hosted a weekly anthology series exploring unexplained phenomena (e.g., UFOs, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster). Additionally, it featured episodes about mysterious historical events and personalities such as Anna Anderson/Grand Duchess Anastasia, infamous cults, and missing persons, such as Sir Walter Raleigh’s ill-fated Roanoke Island colony.

In 2017, Rayolight Productions, the twisted minds behind the hilarious OBTV News (featuring Hugh Jass), filmed a modern Outer Banks horror story that packs a real punch in 30 minutes.


Season 4 episode 6 of In Search Of… examined the Outer Banks’ own primal mystery, that of the fate of the “Lost Colony” of 1585-1590. The story, which is also told since 1937 onstage and on location at the Waterside Theatre on Roanoke Island, is of the first English settlement in the New World, which had vanished when a second store of supplies returned from England in 1590.

“There is an island off the Carolina coast, that even today, still hides the secret beginnings of America.” Leonard Nimoy narrates the story, beginning with Queen Elizabeth’s favorite courtier, Sir Walter Raleigh, attempting to establish a foothold in the New World, which has been dominated by Spain. Actors recreate the tale: once here, the colony’s governor, John White, returns to England for more supplies. The colonists worry about the 46-year-old governor’s health on the transatlantic trip; he worried that the colony, which included his daughter, son-in-law, and grand-daughter, would be largely unprotected from unfriendly natives during his absence.

Nimoy is shown on location as he tells how White’s return trip was delayed by deteriorating relations at home with Spain. Raleigh pleaded unsuccessfully with Elizabeth, who was unwilling to spare a single ship for the supply run to Roanoke in the face of the Spanish Armada. As we all know on the Outer Banks, by the time White is able to return, there is no sign of the colony.

It’s a good, thorough documentation of the mysterious happenings, including an unsuccessful attempt to reach Croatoan Island (now Hatteras Island), after the name was found carved on a tree, and a summary, from local historian David Stick and others, on what might have happened. The legend of the White Doe is even recounted.

A reporter heads out alone to explore the remnants of Buffalo City, once the busiest town in the area but now a pile of ruins—according to legend, haunted ruins. (LostInBuffaloCity.com)

LOST IN BUFFALO CITY (Prime Video; website) 2017 [unrated]

“A mere half-hour west of the stunning beaches and scenery of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the once-thriving community of Buffalo City is now a long-forgotten ghost town.

“At the turn of the 20th Century, Buffalo City boasted the biggest logging operation in northeastern North Carolina and the largest population in Dare County. With a hotel, post office, schoolhouse, general store and rows of company housing, the thriving timber community bustled with life. But as the area’s lumber resources dwindled, the community suffered. Then came Prohibition, which offered Buffalo City a new, albeit illicit cottage industry: moonshine. Whiskey runners kept the cash flowing and the feds frustrated, but the end of Prohibition was the final nail in the coffin of Buffalo City. By the 1950s, the community was abandoned.

“Today, little is left of the town but scattered ruins amongst the brackish water and cypress swamps of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.” (LostInBuffaloCity.com)

In this award-winning 2017 horror featurette, a travel reporter unilaterally decides to expand his assignment of profiling a retired Dare County sheriff when his subject recounts irresistible tales of the fate of all who attempt to resurrect the ghosts of the town. He strikes out in a kayak on the Alligator River, and what he finds will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Here is a trailer of the exquisitely suspensful film.

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