NC 12

Gateway to the Outer Banks

By Dawson Carr

192 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 64 halftones, 4 maps, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2814-1
    Published: April 2016
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4662-4
    Published: February 2016
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2815-8
    Published: February 2016

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Connecting communities from Corolla in the north to Ocracoke Island in the south, scenic North Carolina Highway 12 binds together the fragile barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks. Throughout its lifetime, however, NC 12 has faced many challenges—from recurring storms and shifting sands to legal and political disputes—that have threatened this remarkable highway’s very existence. Through the unique lens of the road’s rich history, Dawson Carr tells the story of the Outer Banks as it has unfolded since a time when locals used oxcarts to pull provisions from harbors to their homes and the Wright Brothers struggled over mountainous dunes.

Throughout, Carr captures the personal stories of those who have loved and lived on the Outer Banks. As Carr relates the importance of NC 12 and its transformation from a string of beach roads to a scenic byway joining miles of islands, he also chronicles the history of a region over the last eighty-five years, showing how the highway and the residents of the Outer Banks came to rely on each other.

About the Author

Dawson Carr lives in West End, North Carolina. He is author of The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: Sentinel of the Shoals.
For more information about Dawson Carr, visit the Author Page.


“With extensive research the author examines how NC 12 came into being. . . . Will appeal to readers of North Carolina history and those who want to know more about the effects of development on fragile ecosystems in general.”--Library Journal

"A fascinating cultural history that is far more than a tale of a strip of asphalt. Dawson Carr captures the interplay between human life and the delicate and dynamic natural ecosystem of the Outer Banks, where people live, work, and play."--Karen Lisbeth "KaeLi" Schurr, Outer Banks History Center

"In his finely crafted and practically poetic book, Dawson Carr tells the story of the Outer Banks, situating the region’s history around the modern-day difficulties of access and of the construction of Highway 12. Recommended reading for all visitors to the coast."--Michael Hill, North Carolina Office of Archives and History