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Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

Home > Charlotte > Exhibitions | Museums | Places of Interest | Tours
by Gail Clifford MD (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer and photographer traveling the world, often following my daughter. Visit our site at www.ABLETravelPhoto.com and follow us on Instagram @ABLETravelPhoto
Published June 23rd 2022
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, NC, OBX, OBXNow, USA, Museum, Shipwrecks
Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, NC


My first visit to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, North Carolina occurred rather fittingly at the tail end of a nor'easter when the roads of Hatteras Island had finally appeared from beneath the flood waters. The combination weather station/tourist center was open and the ferry to Ocracoke was running and the skies stormy enough, one might think the ship's hull beams, used to create a path on the exterior of the building, may need to be put into service.

monument, Maritime, Civil War, Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, NC, OBX, OBXNow, USA, Museum, Shipwrecks
Monument to the Maritime Casualties of the Civil War


From the parking lot, you'll begin your education with the monuments to the Maritime Casualties of the American Civil War and the Loss of the USS Monitor. Just a few steps away stands a monument to the Underground Railroad describing the Hotel De Afrique, the first safe haven for African Americans in North Carolina during the Civil War, reprinted from a NY Times article January 29, 1862. On the opposite face of this monument is the description of the Flagship USS Minnesota, showcasing the head of the blockading squadron and the valor of the black gun crew who bombarded Forts Hatteras and Clark from August 28 to 29, 1861.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, NC, OBX, OBXNow, USA, Museum, Shipwrecks
Which Use Would You Choose For This Boat?


Enter the Museum, free admission with cash donations (or credit card online) gratefully accepted, to the 1854 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Fresnel Lens dominating the entry. Surrounded by lighthouse and island exhibits, you can spend an hour in the lobby alone, but there's more to see. To the right of the entrance, enjoy photographs of the area from award-winning photographers and Facebook followers. Submit your own favorite photo to their Facebook page and grow the fan base as you return to remember your travels to the Outer Banks.

Or take the time to learn how to tie some nautical knots with their hands-on exhibit. An informative movie about the history of the area on this side of the building is a valuable way to spend your time if you like to hear the stories of locals and ship captains that found their way to this southern portion of the country's first National Seashore.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, NC, OBX, OBXNow, USA, Museum, Shipwrecks
US Flag with 34 Stars


Cross the lobby to enter the main room for most exhibits, from long boats to two different American flags, each 34 stars as used from 1861 to 1863 with the entry of Kansas until the admission of West Virginia as a state when it separated from Virginia to re-join the Union. At no time did our flag lose stars. Even during the Civil War, the Confederate states remained represented.

graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, NC, OBX, OBXNow, USA, Museum, Shipwrecks
The Evolution of Diving


Other exhibits within this museum include the USS Monitor, the Civil War ironclad, the lifesaving at Chicamacomico, the stories of legendary fishermen and Outer Bank residents and the evolution of scuba diving, including the advancement of dive masks.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, NC, OBX, OBXNow, USA, Museum, Shipwrecks
When War Returns to the Outer Banks, the Citizens Step Up


When the East Coast is threatened by war, the Outer Banks are affected. More stories from the Civil War are found in the museum, but the Revolutionary War is represented as well.

graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, NC, OBX, OBXNow, USA, Museum, Shipwrecks
The Storage Area at the Museum Reveals Much More to See ... I Can't Wait!


As you approach the exit, you'll find the legend of Blackbeard, purported to have died on nearby Ocracoke Island, and see the glass wall separating you from the Museum's storage exhibits. I look forward to returning to learn more about the stories they share.

Leaving the museum hall, turn right and make a stop at the Museum's Gift Shop. Pick up a history book about any of the exhibits that piqued your curiosity, lighthouse souvenirs, or locally made jewelry.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, NC, OBX, OBXNow, USA, Museum, Shipwrecks
Fun in North Carolina Represented


Any questions? Ask the knowledgeable docent of the day at the front desk. You may find yourself spending a very quick hour regaled with local legends.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, NC, OBX, OBXNow, USA, Museum, Shipwrecks
The Most Recent Victim Washed In From the Ocean


Or, like us, be sent in a treasure hunt of our own directions to the most recent shipwreck coughed up by the nor-easter. A yet unclassified shipwreck may be a 1900s barge. Will time reveal the Graveyard's secret?
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Where: 59200 Museum Dr, Hatteras, NC 27943, United States
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