Digital North Carolina Blog

Digital North Carolina Blog

This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from institutions across North Carolina.

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Seashore News Issues Tell of Bygone Beach Days

The masthead of The Seashore News

Another newspaper title from the eastern part of our state has been added to our digital collections thanks to our partner, the Outer Banks History Center. These issues of The Seashore News were published for the Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, and Kitty Hawk beach communities in 1939.

One article from the June 8, 1939 issue describes a different beach scene than many of us are used to today. 

Head line reading, "Grass, Flowers, Trees Grow Well on Beach Since Cattle Removed."

“Dare County is being reborn,” it begins. “Where only a year or two ago the eye was greeted with vast stretches of bare sand and course beach grass, upon which herds of stunted cattle eked out a miserable existance [sic], today is springing to life lush vegetation, acres of wild flowers and trees and flowering shrubs of a hundred varieties.”

The article goes on to describe how the “Stock Law” passed in 1937 by the State Legislature helped eliminate the cattle, wild horses, and “scuttling flocks of mangy sheep” from the beaches. The author also claims that the beaches were a “veritable paradise of verdure” when colonists first arrived and that it was due to the livestock that the beaches became “a territory that was fast taking on the arid aspects of a desert.”

An illustration of three horses trotting over sand dunes

Whether the introduction of vegetation to the area would be considered “conservation” by today’s standards isn’t totally clear, though the NC Wildlife Resources Commission doesn’t exactly describe costal habitats as a “‘delicate garden abounding with all kinds of odiferous flowers.'”

You can see all issues of The Seashore News here, and you can browse all of our digital newspapers by location, type, and date in our North Carolina Newspapers collection. To learn more about the Outer Banks History Center, you can visit their partner page and their website.

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