Outer Banks History: Hatteras Islands Hotel De Afrique

hotel-de-afrique-hatteras-island-outer-banksDuring a July 31 commemoration ceremony in 2013, Hotel De Afrique on the Outer Banks's Hatteras Island officially became part of the  Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

The Network is a National Park Service program that was established for preservation and education efforts to protect historic sites around the nation thatwere instrumental in the Underground Railroad.

As you may remember from grade school history class, The Underground Railroad was the name given to describe the network of people, routes and safe housesused by black slaves to escape the shackles of slavery in the south and migrate to the union controlled northern portions of the United States.

When Union forces overran the Confederate stronghold on Hatteras Island in 1861, hordes of slaves fled to the new safe haven on the Outer Banks. The freedslaves would help union forces load ships and build barricades in return for food and shelter.

Located one-and-a-half miles east of the hotel's original location, the Hotel De Afrique monument is situated directly in-front of the present dayGraveyard of the Atlantic Museum. Completed in the spring of 2012, the monument became part of the official Underground Railroad Network during a ceremonyin the summer of 2013.

Crafted with black stone, the monument quotes a New York Times article from January 29, 1862 thatstates:

"Captain Clark has erected a very commodious wooden house on the beach for the use of fugitives who have recently arrived from Roanoke Island. It ischristened 'Hotel D' Afrique," Franklin Tillet, the older man who last arrived, came down from Roanoke Island in a boat, bringing with him fifteen ofhis household… They are very expert boatmen, and are useful in pulling about the inlet and working along the shore."

The original site of the hotel is now washed over by decades of strong storms and hurricanes. Originally consisting of 12 buildings, Hotel De Afrique wasthe largest structure out of the dozen. Today, the area is nothing more than overgrown vegetation and rolling sand dunes with portions of the site nowunderwater.

I encourage you to stop by the outdoor monument located in-front of the maritime Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum located on Hatteras Island when passingby. The museum is open year-round with hours varying seasonally.

The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

59200 Museum Drive  
Hatteras, NC 27943
(252) 986-2995


Wednesday, November 13, 2013


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