One of the most historic roads in North Carolina is slowly disappearing into a bay off the Outer Banks, but environmentalists believe they have found a unique way to save it.
Moor Shore Road in Kitty Hawk is among the lesser known sites tied to the Wright Brothers, serving as the spot where they began assembling their first experimental glider, according to a marker erected there in 1928.
But like other historic sites on the North Carolina coast, “one of the oldest roads on the Outer Banks” is threatened by rising sea levels and shore erosion, reports Coastal Review Online. A marsh that once separated the road from Kitty Hawk Bay has vanished, the report said.
Kitty Hawk Bay is on the west side of the Outer Banks and isn’t directly affected by Atlantic tides. But it is “susceptible to wind tides — wind driven water pushed by strong winds,” reports the Outer Banks realty company Carolina Designs. “The result is that Moor Shore Road regularly floods during storm events.”
The nonprofit North Carolina Coastal Federation says the road has “intrinsic value” and it believes the best solution is something called a living shoreline, which will recreate the marsh that slowly vanished over decades.
The federation intends to create a series of seven breakwaters — or wave speed bumps — 600 feet along the shore to catch sediment. Once enough sediment has piled up, the lost grasses and reeds will sprout again, thwarting drastic shore erosion, the foundation says.
“Thousands of marsh grasses” will be added in the spring and summer, the federation says.
The threat against the road comes as the National Parks of Eastern North Carolina is completing a study to determine which Outer Banks sites on park lands are most threatened by erosion, rising sea levels and storm surge, reported The Charlotte Observer in August.
Two of the state’s best-known lighthouses — Ocracoke and Bodie — are now vulnerable to flooding, and the park service says some adjoining buildings may not survive unless they are raised above flood level, the Observer reported.
Moor Shore Road is considered important as an evacuation route during Outer Banks emergencies, the federation says. It is also a surviving connection to the invention of flight in North Carolina, according to the historical marker erected there in 1928.
It was at a boarding house owned by the Tate family on Moor Shore Road where “Wilbur Wright began the assembly of the Wright Bothers’ first experimental glider, which led to man’s conquest of the air,” says the marker, according to Waymarking.com.