Hatteras Village is the southernmost town on Hatteras Island. Many people refer to it as the Village so as not to confuse it with the actual cape of Cape Hatteras, located 13 miles to the north. The history of the village is directly correlated to the effects of storms and hurricanes.
The most significant of these storms occurred on September 7, 1846, when a hurricane ripped through and overnight opened the two most significant inlets on the Outer Banks, Hatteras Inlet and Oregon Inlet. The Hatteras Inlet now stand where for half of the 1840s a woods and people’s homes stood only to find them washed away. Prior to that, there was no need to take a ferry to Ocracoke.
With the opening of the Hatteras Inlet, Hatteras Village thrived and became the largest village on Hatteras Island and one of the largest on the Outer Banks due to its location near the Gulf Stream for fishing as well as trading with the mainland and serving as a shipping lane to New York. So prosperous was the village, that it received a post office in 1857. Hatteras, unlike most of the other Hatteras Island towns, did not have its name changed.
The fishing business, even today, serves as a key business for Hatteras, as it is home port for one of the largest charter boat and commercial fishing fleets. It is home to several prestigious fishing tournaments. In addition, the Hatteras Village fleet is especially renowned for its bluefin tuna fishing in the winter and its billfish out by the Gulf Stream from spring through early fall.
Hatteras was also home to Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark during the Civil War. The Confederate Army had used this location to attack supply ships heading to the North. With the capture of this strategic location by the Union Army on August 28, 1861, the Union Army was able to control much of the North Carolina coast. After the Civil War, Hatteras Village continued its growth, and in 1878 a lifesaving station was built to help distressed seaman. To avoid confusion with the Cape Hatteras Lifesaving Station, it was named the Durants Lifesaving Station. The Hatteras Weather Station was also moved here in 1880, but was moved back to Cape Hatteras in 1957.
During this entire period, the village continued to be primarily a fishing and trading town. In the 1920s and 30s, it also gained a reputation as a sportsmen’s paradise because of the hunting for wild fowl. It was not until two things happened in the 1950s and the second in the 1960s that the whole complexion of the town changed. In 1952 and 1953, hardtop roads were built and in 1958 the ferry docks were moved to the end of the highway. This enabled cars to more freely drive the length of Hatteras Island. However, the biggest changed occurred in 1964 when the Bonner Bridge was completed over Oregon Inlet, connecting the Nags Head area with Hatteras Island. Previous to that time, there were ferries that took cars over Oregon Inlet. With the Bonner Bridge, a free flow of traffic could occur. As a result, the town transformed from a fishing village to a tourist destination. With the building of Outer Banks rental homes and a hotel, tourism is now the life blood of the community.
In 2002, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum opened near the Ocracoke ferry terminal. The museum pulls the whole Outer Banks maritime story together. The museum’s mission is to catalogue the role the waters off the Outer Banks played in maritime history with particular emphasis on the period of time from 1524 through 1945.
Hatteras Village, with its rich history, excellent fishing and comfortable setting may be the town you want to enjoy during your vacation in the Outer Banks.