In October of 1718, ancient live oak trunks still standing in 2010 sheltered the pirate Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, camped with a band of high-profile pirates on Springer’s Point in Ocracoke, North Carolina. From the 8-foot elevation above the surrounding Atlantic Ocean, they maintained watch from the shadows that soften the glare of the maritime sun. The sandy high ground, known as a hammock, looked seaward on November 22nd as Blackbeard, shot 5 times and suffering 20 cuts, died in a pirate-military battle immediately offshore.
One hundred and twenty-six acres of the overseeing hammock now belong to the public, courtesy of the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust. Springer’s Point Nature Preserve commences off of a quiet street in Ocracoke Village, where a footpath shared with king snakes leads into the campsite after passing the 1977-era gravesite of a wealthy industrialist buried together with an Ocracoke wild pony.
Yards away, huge vacation houses aspire unsuccessfully to the elevated status of Blackbeard and his campsite. In a battle between grassroots regard for earth-based culture and real estate lobbying, the maritime high ground prevailed.