Founded in 1753 at the mouth of the Ocracoke Inlet, Portsmouth Village was once the only commercial route into the Pamlico Sound and the early British port towns of Bath, New Bern, and Washington. An 1846 tempest created new inlets in the islands to the north, giving Portsmouth some competition. The town continued to grow, reaching a peak of 600 residents in 1860, but lost half its population in the next ten years as villagers fled Northern invaders—and as the Union Blockade of Southern ports destroyed most of the shipping jobs in town. Though partly reinvigorated by the establishment of a Lifesaving Station on the island in the 1890s, Portsmouth is now a ghost town of 20 structures, including a few that guests can tour. Solar toilets can be found here—along with those at the lighthouse, the only ones on the island—they explain in part why many campers prefer to stay in town.

 
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Address:
Cape Lookout National Seashore
North Carolina


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