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How did the Outer Banks get it's name?


In this week's Ask Me Monday (a weekly post on our Facebook page) I had a couple of questions that stumped me, but it was one question that I was able to answer that stuck with me for today's blog post. Judith asked: "When did the area begin to be called the Outer Banks & who was first to call it such?" Until recent years, the "Outer Banks" was usually referred to as either Kitty Hawk to those who are more familiar with the Wright Brothers or as Nags Head. Those are both individual towns here, but most people would call anyplace "Nags Head".  I can remember growing up and hearing my Aunt say she was coming to Nags Head. It would always confuse me because she consistently stayed in Kill Devil Hills. I didn't get it! However, she was coming from the Hampton Roads area in Virginia. There, the road signs pointed her to Nags Head. They didn't call it the Outer Banks and they didn't differentiate between the towns. Not anymore. In 2009 road signs along US64 changed to call it the "Outer Banks". By this point it was very commonly called that and of course the OBX craze was super popular! There has been a lot of research done looking into how we got our nickname. Our area was called "the sand banks" on Colonial maps and were commonly referred to as the 'Sea Banks" in the early 1900s. Sarah Downing, the assistant curator at the Outer Banks History Center said that old Outer Banks marketing ads said "Come to Nags Head " or the "Dare beaches " or the "Sir Walter Raleigh coast land." In a UNC-Chapel Hill library, there was a New York Times article published on December 26,1932 which called our area the outer banks, using lowercase lettering. Then again, it showed up in a May 28, 1939, headline: "Seashore Park Taking Form. The Outer Banks of North Carolina, Including Cape Hatteras, Being Developed by Government as Vast Playground." So there you have it...We've been known as the Outer Banks since at least the 1930. I wonder if we'll simply be knows at the OBX in the next 30 or so years?   Tell me, what do you call our area? The Outer Banks, OBX, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk?   Read a full article from the Virginia-Pilot here.