Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Schooner Victoria S ~ 23 August 1925

Victoria S
The four-masted schooner, Victoria S, became hard aground in the breakers directly across the plains from Ocracoke village. Using the beach apparatus and breeches buoy the life savers quickly and efficiently pulled all 7 crewmen to safety on shore including, ironically, Capt. Struck. Shortly thereafter the Victoria S broke apart in the pounding surf. Her cargo of rough cut pine lumber spilled out of the wreck and tumbled into the Atlantic Ocean.
For days, large quantities of lumber washed up along several miles of beach. The owners of the cargo were contacted and they immediately dispatched an agent to Ocracoke to coordinate salvage operations. The agent quickly assessed the situation.
There were only two gas-powered vehicles on Ocracoke Island in 1925: Captain Bill Gaskill, who owned the Pamlico Inn on the sound shore, had a flat bed truck and Mr. Albert Styron, who operated a general store near the lighthouse, also owned a truck. Both men were hired to drive out to the beach and collect as much of the lumber as possible. A steamer was requisitioned, and brought down Pamlico Sound. It tied up to a dock on the northwest shore of Ocracoke village and for several days, Captain Bill and Mr. Albert drove back and forth, from the beach to the sound, and back again, carrying load after load of lumber.
At that time the main thoroughfare through Ocracoke village was a one lane, soft sand road that included what today is known as Howard Street. In front of Stacy and Elizabeth Howard’s home the road made a sharp, blind bend with loose sand that was especially deep. To negotiate the curve without getting stuck, drivers of Model-T trucks equipped with narrow rubber tires needed to accelerate as they approached the curve and maintain speed as they rounded the curve.
Captain Bill had just loaded his truck at the beach. Piled with lumber, his vehicle was traveling west. In the meantime, Mr. Albert had just unloaded his truck at the steamer and was returning to the beach, heading east. Both men approached the curve in front of Stacy and Elizabeth’s house at the same time and gunned their engines as they simultaneously rounded the bend .
And that’s how it happened that Ocracoke experienced its first automobile accident in early September 1925 ... a head on collision with the only vehicles on the island!

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