A Dare County trip down nostalgia lane     

By on November 18, 2022

‘OBX Days Gone By’ map brings iconic attractions back to life

The Sir Walter Raleigh Statue in Manteo suffered an ignominious fate. (“OBX Days Gone By” interactive map.)

Officially, it is called the “OBX Days Gone By” interactive map that was created to celebrate Geographic Information Systems Day (yes, that’s a thing) that was celebrated on Nov. 16.

Put more simply, it’s a great trip down nostalgia lane in Dare County.

Several dozen memorable properties — from restaurants to nightspots to hotels— that have disappeared from the local landscape are brought to life on the map, which provides a mapping component to pinpoint locations and comes replete with vintage photos and a short narrative that documents the history, the rise and fall, of the once-popular attraction.

To provide a sense of what is included in the map, it starts with “the location that began tourism in Dare County,” the Nags Head Hotel, that was built in 1838 by plantation owners and grew to hold as many as 250 rooms. It was burned down by Confederate fighters in 1862, but was rebuilt and re-opened “until the sands of Jockey’s Ridge slowly swallowed it sometime in the 1870’s.”

More contemporary Outer Banks fixtures, such as The Pit and Kelly’s Nags Head restaurant and tavern are included in the exhibit, as is the attraction that vanished most recently, The Futuro (UFO) House in Frisco that was destroyed by fire on Oct. 19.

In between, we visit such slices of local history as the Nags Head Casino, Newman’s Shell Shop, Queen Annes Revenge, Footsball Palace, The Ghost Ship and The Sir Walter Raleigh statue in Manteo, a 24-foot- high structure which is described as “ugly,” and which suffered the ignominious fate of being beheaded and removed. And there are many more.

Kudos to the Dare County GIS Department for literally creating a tribute to remember. Here is the link to the “OBX Days Gone By” interactive map.


  • History

    The Confederate command was using the Nags Head Hotel as their headquarters for the Battle of Roanoke Island. With defeat imminent, the retreated forces burned the hotel. And we think today’s tourists are trouble!

    More about the battle.

    At midday on February 8, 1862, the outnumbered Confederate troops in the earthwork fort at Suple’s Hill (near the present-day Midway intersection) fired desperately at the oncoming Union soldiers. With three smoothbore cannon facing southward, the Rebels repelled the initial attack and it briefly seemed that the much- maligned defensive plan would work. Unfortunately for the defenders, the plan assumed the thick forest and swamp on either side of the fort to be an impassable barrier.
    The value of the forest as a barricade was questionable at best and the Union officers, quickly realizing the futility of a frontal assault, decided to test the terrain in an attempt to flank and surround the Rebel fort.
    They found the forest to be tough going, but far from impassable. “How shall I describe the attempt of a regiment, fully armed and equipped, to march through a swamp considered
    impenetrable by the shingle-splitting cracker,” wrote a Massachusetts solider.
    Men in blue struggled with difficulty through the woods while officers led the way, hacking through the tangled vines with their swords. Just as various Confederates had feared, the thick forest proved to not be thick enough as the Union soldiers slowly but steadily made their way through it. The Confederates were aware of the flanking attempt, but were not in a position to stop it. The big guns could not be redirected and the woods provided good cover for the attackers. The more soldiers passed through the swamp, the easier the passage became.
    When Union troops poured en masse behind Suple’s Hill, Colonel Henry Shaw, the highest ranking Confederate on Roanoke Island, felt that he had no choice but to surrender.

    Friday, Nov 18 @ 9:21 am
  • Dave

    You forgot Tanya’s Ocean House !!

    Friday, Nov 18 @ 9:33 am
  • Mary

    This is fantastic gathering of “the old days”! Thanks to all involved in compiling this wealth of information and thanks for publishing it on The Voice!

    Friday, Nov 18 @ 9:57 am
  • Michael E C Gery

    “Days Gone By” is a great achievement. Congratulations to the Dare County GIS Department. Who did the curating and the writing? This deserves a list of credits.

    Friday, Nov 18 @ 10:56 am
  • Leeroy Jenkins

    Plantations… Statues of Colonialism pride… Sounds like a friendly, racist area to me!

    Friday, Nov 18 @ 5:14 pm
  • Patricia Nash

    seems to me the GIS dept had found some money from who knows where.(a grant maybe) and had nothing else to do ..cool yes as well as pretty useless except maybe for nostalgia sake..better use of the money maybe could have went to the struggling seniors in the community..

    Friday, Nov 18 @ 11:35 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Really? The department puts together something terrific with what I’m sure was a minimal amount of money and that’s a bad idea?

    Saturday, Nov 19 @ 9:30 am
  • Bill

    Does anyone remember a tugboat in Shallowbag Bay with “1864” painted on her hull? This would be late ‘80’s to early 90’s. I can’t find anything about it.

    Saturday, Nov 19 @ 9:55 am
  • Otis

    couldn’t agree more with Mark. how could anyone criticize something like this?

    Saturday, Nov 19 @ 11:58 am
  • Margo

    Don’t forget R & R Junction!!!

    Saturday, Nov 19 @ 1:14 pm
  • Larry

    Cool idea for sure. You notice that all of these places were torn down and replaced with nothing but mega mansions? No creativity… The people that started this community had a creative vision of what they wanted to see and be apart of. Now all they see is dollar signs and easy ways out.

    Sunday, Nov 20 @ 8:37 am