Living at the Water's Edge

A Heritage Guide to the Outer Banks Byway

By Barbara Garrity-Blake, Karen Willis Amspacher

320 pp., 6 x 9, 57 color plates., 54 halftones, 4 (color) maps, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2816-5
    Published: April 2017
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2817-2
    Published: February 2017
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4338-8
    Published: February 2017

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The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway received its designation in 2009, an act that stands as a testament to the historical and cultural importance of the communities linked along the North Carolina coast from Whalebone Junction across to Hatteras and Ocracoke Island and down to the small villages of the Core Sound region. This rich heritage guide introduces readers to the places and people that have made the route and the region a national treasure. Welcoming visitors on a journey across sounds and inlets into villages and through two national seashores, Barbara Garrity-Blake and Karen Willis Amspacher share the stories of people who have shaped their lives out of saltwater and sand. The book considers how the Outer Banks residents have stood their ground and maintained a vibrant way of life while adapting to constant change that is fundamental to life where water meets the land.

Heavily illustrated with color and black-and-white photographs, Living at the Water's Edge will lead readers to the proverbial porch of the Outer Banks locals, extending a warm welcome to visitors while encouraging them to understand what many never see or hear: the stories, feelings, and meanings that offer a cultural dimension to the byway experience and deepen the visitor’s understanding of life on the tideline.

About the Authors

Barbara Garrity-Blake is a cultural anthropologist long interested in the 21 villages along the byway from the north end of Hatteras through the Down East region of Carteret County; she lives in Gloucester, N.C.
For more information about Barbara Garrity-Blake, visit the Author Page.

Karen Willis Amspacher, director of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center on Harkers Island, is descended from Shackleford Banks fishermen and boatbuilders and lives in Marshallberg, N.C.
For more information about Karen Willis Amspacher, visit the Author Page.


"If you don't have the bug for the beach yet, this guide will give it to you."—Durham Herald-Sun

“Introduces readers to the places and people that have made the route and the region a national treasure.”—Carolina Coast

“I enjoyed every page. . . . Delightfully salted with photographs dating from the 1880s to the present and sidebars covering interesting Outer Banks people and other attractions.”—Ocracoke Current

“Charming and highly informative, this captivating guide provides an honest and accurate understanding of the physical and social landscapes between Whalebone Junction and the North River Bridge. Barbara Garrity-Blake and Karen Willis Amspacher deliver an unrivaled addition to the life and lore of the Carolina coast. Intriguing and delightful!”—Bland Simpson, author of Little Rivers and Waterway Tales

“Barbara Garrity-Blake and Karen Willis Amspacher’s book is not only an essential guide to the North Carolina Scenic Highway, but is a major step forward in the preservation of our threatened Outer Banks communities. A must read for any coastal traveler.”—Carmine Prioli, Emeritus Professor, North Carolina State University

“This thought-provoking guide introduces readers to the history, culture, and environment of the region linked by the Outer Banks Scenic Byway. Those of us who have been here for generations and those visiting for the first time will all find something new to learn about this ever-changing place where life goes on ceaselessly, as the sands shift and tides flow.” —Alton Ballance, author of Ocracokers

Multimedia & Links

Listen: The authors talk to Frank Stasio on WUNC's "The State of Things". (5/30/2017, running time 19:52)