Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, Rodanthe, Hatteras Island

Hatteras Island
Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station
In 1873 Congress established the United States Life Saving Service to patrol the beaches looking for ships in distress along the treacherous North Carolina coast. Twelve Life Saving Stations were established - at seven mile intervals in an area known as Chicamacomico. The stations were patrolled by a crew of 5-10 men on foot or horseback. The most famous of these stations, the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station was built in 1874. Its courageous crew risked their lives on a daily basis, but never more so than in 1918 when the British tanker Mirlo was torpedoed in the Atlantic waters. Six men, without regard for their own safety, jumped into a sea of flames to rescue 47 of the 57-man crew. In 1921 they received Gold Life Saving Medals from the British Government and in 1930 the United States Government awarded the Grand Crosses of the American Cross of Honor.

The Coast Guard, which evolved out of the U.S. Lifesaving Service, decommissioned the complex in 1954. The buildings are one of the most complete U.S. Lifesaving Service/Coast Guard Station complexes on the Atlantic Coast. The main station (built in 1911) and the Fearing Shipwreck Exhibit are now museums. There are pieces of the hundreds of vessels shipwrecked off the coast of North Carolina for over four hundred years. The older 1874 station contains the lifeboat used in now-famous rescues and other lifesaving equipment.

For detailed information about the station's history, current events, visiting hours, scheduled speakers, etc. visit The Chicamacomico Historical Association's website.

Related site(s):
The Treasures Of Chicamacomico

search NPS web site

USCG - Elizabeth City, NC
   also see modern-day USCG Hatteras surfboats in action in Download Freepix

Member of the Historic Albemarle Tour:
An Historic Albemarle Tour Site