The National Park Service dock at the Cape Lookout National Seashore is a gathering place for local fishermen and is the arrival/departure point for visitors to the lighthouse and Atlantic Ocean beach areas. This pano was taken in May while I was on patrol of the South Core Island as a protection ranger for the National Park Service. Access to Cape Lookout is limited to privately owned boats and local small boat ferry operations as seen by the arriving and unloading taking place on the dock. My job as a National Park Ranger is to provide a variety of public services tailored to protect the park and provide visitors with information and education.
To look at the barrier islands comprising Cape Lookout National Seashore today, you would never imagine that during the time of Columbus’ ventures in the New World nothing was here. One of the last major groups of undeveloped barrier islands in the world, this threesome of North Core and South Core Banks, and Shackleford Banks represent 56 miles of pristine, preserved seashore arising out of the continuous shifting sands and colossal sea, wind and wave action along North Carolina’s shallow continental shelf. Forever on the move toward the coastal mainland, the islands are eroded and rebuilt and inlets opened and closed in an ongoing battle with the ocean. Once known as Promontorium Tremendum, the Horrible Headland, of Cape Lookout claimed innumerable ships, necessitating the construction of Cape Lookout’s original and subsequent lighthouse. Cape Lookout’s current lighthouse, 150 years old, is one of North Carolina’s four big coastal lights known as the “string of pearls”. Whalers, commercial fishermen, and tall ships once came and went, the US Life-Saving Service saved doomed sailors aground on the cape, and history was made as a part of daily life. Now preserved under the protection of the National Park Service (NPS), the island chain is host each year to over 200,000 visitors from around the world. While they come for a variety of reasons most tourists and fishermen end up via local ferry service within the 3 mile section from the NPS dock to the lighthouse, the Lighthouse Keepers’ Quarters Museum and down to the shallow cape running some 15 miles out to sea above and below the water.
In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill commonly known as the “Organic Act” that created the National Park Service and mandated the newly created agency "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." It has been my luck and pleasure to serve as a National Park Ranger in many of the areas of the National Park Service’s 394 units, that include; National Parks, National Seashores, National Recreation Areas, National Battlefields, National Monuments, National Parkways, National Scenic and Wild rivers, National Memorials, National Lakeshores, and National Scenic Trails, as well as the Whitehouse, and the Capital Mall.