Cape Lookout National Seashore

Shackleford Banks
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Shackleford Banks is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. This 2,500-acre barrier island is a proposed wilderness zone, and is now being allowed to return to its natural beauty.

Vegetation on the island is rather diversified and represents one of the few rich remnants of maritime vegetation on the North Carolina Coast.

The first human visitors to Shackleford are assumed to be the Coree Indians, one of the Tuscarora tribes.

When colonial settlers arrived on the island is unknown, but the first permanent house was built in the 1760's. By 1885, about 600 people lived on the island, with 500 people residing in "Diamond City," which was located on the east end of Shackleford Banks. Their livelihood was primarily whaling and fishing.

In the late 1800's, severe hurricanes struck the island and killed most of the maritime forest throughout the island. Several people died and homes were destroyed or uprooted by the water surge. The people of Shackleford began moving off to neighboring Harkers Island and the mainland areas.

Shackleford horses are a legend of controversy. They are wild animals and should be treated as such.


Camping on Shackleford is allowed, except within 100 feet of any structure. Consideration should be given to minimize the impact to the environment. Fires are allowed only below the high-water mark. Only dead and down wood may be burned as fuel. No cutting of vegetation is allowed.

Since this island has little drinking water and human sanitation facilities available, personal needs should be considered before an extended outing.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Apr 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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