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Hatteras & Ocracoke Area Features

Hatteras Village Welcome Center

  By: Jamie Tunnell Carter

Several years ago, the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau expanded their string of welcome centers along the Outer Banks to include the old Weather Bureau Station in Hatteras Village. The building dates back to 1901, when it was one of eleven of the country’s official buildings for the United States Weather Bureau. This was where some of the first storm warning and hurricane tracking methods were explored as they communicated with other lifesaving stations, recorded hourly weather statistics, and issued forecasts for the area.

In those days, like today, living on the water’s edge was affected every day by the weather. Imagine it’s the turn of the century and you are using lore passed down in families, observing wildlife patterns, and a barometer to predict the weather or decide whether or not to make a fishing trip that day.

The Weather Bureau Station of Hatteras Village was in a prominent location to report weather-related shipwrecks. Its wood frame structure contained living quarters for the observer, a kitchen, weather equipment, and offices. There was a ladder leading to the roof with porches built across the front and west side. From 1901 to 1946, the observer sent telegraph communications to the District Forecast Center in Washington, DC. Many visitors to the museum are surprised to learn that this station received the SOS in 1912 after a distress call from the Titanic.

The building was decommissioned in 1946, but remained a part of Hatteras Village’s maritime history as a residence for National Park Service staff and a biological laboratory. This partnership between the National Park Service and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau is a resource center for visitors, historians, and residents of the area. It was determined in 1984 by the National Park Service that the building needed extensive repairs and a restoration plan was developed to bring the building back to life. The three-phase plan to stabilize the foundation, restore the exterior and then restore the interior has paid off, and the building is now restored to its original 1901 condition. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Several artifacts have been recovered under the floorboards including a 1914 telegraph dispatch detailing Hatteras weather conditions, and a Department of Agriculture, U.S. Hatteras Weather Bureau Logbook dated 1901-1911 with detailed supply lists, equipment orders, weather conditions, and personal information. This information was provided by Douglas Stover, renowned historian of the area, who has done extensive research on the building’s history.

The Hatteras Welcome Center is open 9 am to 5 pm from March to December (closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day). It is located at 57190 Kohler Road in Hatteras Village, next to Burrus Red & White. Call 252-986-2203 or visit www.nps.gov/caha


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