The North Carolina Coast Sights

Portsmouth Village

  • Town/Village

Published 07/23/2015

Fodor's Review

Inhabited from 1753 until the early 1970s, the village listed 685 permanent residents at its peak in 1860, according to the census that year. It was a "lightering" town, where ships heavy with cargo had to unload to smaller boats that could navigate the shallow Ocracoke Inlet. But the Civil War and the dredging of a deeper inlet at Hatteras were the beginning of the end for Portsmouth. By 1956 there were 17 inhabitants; the last 2 left in 1971. Today the public can tour the visitor center, the one-room schoolhouse, the post office and general store, the Methodist church, and the turn-of-the-20th-century Life Saving Station (a multiroom Coast Guard station). Guided tours are available June 1 to Sept. 1. The walking trails can be difficult because of standing water, sandy soil, and mosquitoes. Public restrooms are not abundant; bring your own food and water.

Sight Information


Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina, 28531, United States


252-728–2250; 252-928–4361-Austin Boat Tours (passenger ferry); 252-225–4261-Morris Marina (passenger and vehicle ferries)

Sight Details:

  • Free; passenger ferry $14 round trip; car ferry $75–90 round trip
  • Visitor center and buildings Apr.–Nov.

Published 07/23/2015


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