The Oregon Inlet is a dramatic feature of North Carolina's coastal landscape. The 2.5 mile wide gap in the island chain (between Bodie Island to the north and Hatteras Island to the south) connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pamlico Sound, the largest lagoon on the East Coast.
The inlet formed in 1846 when a hurricane ripped through the coast and is named for a ship that survived the storm:
Surrounded by abundant wildlife, the inlet is a major departure point for both commercial and recreational fishing vessels. Starting in 1883, the precursor to the US Coast Guard operated a lifesaving station on the southern bank of the inlet. The station was moved and rebuilt numerous times due to storm damage and the shifting sands until the location was finally abandoned in 1988. Also located on the southern shore of the Oregon Inlet is Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, a popular stop along the "Atlantic Flyway" for migratory birds.
Spanning the inlet is the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, a vital automotive link that allows NC Highway 12 to continue south towards the popular tourist areas of Hatteras Island. Built in 1962, engineers have recently awarded the bridge 4 out of 100 points and listed it as "structurally deficient." Multiple replacements have been planned, ranging from a simple parallel structure very similar to the existing bridge to a 17 mile long elevated highway that would arc Highway 12 out into the Pamlico Sound and reconnect in Rodanthe, but due to political and environmental concerns no new bridge is currently under construction. For more info see A newcomer's guide to the Bonner Bridge controversy.
All images are from the series Upon Sand, a photographic exploration of the environmental and political tensions found on North Carolina’s coast.