A refreshing twenty-minute boat ride will take you to Portsmouth Island, a barrier island just south of Ocracoke that replicates life during European colonization.
Before Ocracoke became the popular village it is today, Portsmouth Island was the bustling port of the latter 1700’s and 1800’s. Around 1860, it is estimated there were about 700 residents of Portsmouth, established by a combination of settlers, sailors and businessmen. The village prospered due to importing and exporting. A majority of the state’s imported and exported goods (about 66%) traveled through Ocracoke Inlet via Portsmouth Island.
The Civil War and the creation of the national railroad shipping goods across the country led to the demise of the village. The villagers had no choice but to abandon Portsmouth to find work and other opportunities elsewhere.
Today, visitors of Portsmouth Island are able to take a step back in time and examine first-hand what it was like to live in the 18th and 19th centuries. The National Park Service maintains the village, which includes a post office, church, lifesaving station, and a few other replica buildings kept intact. While Portsmouth is open year-round to visitors, the historic buildings tend to be open to the public during peak and shoulder seasons and closed in winter.
Those choosing to visit Portsmouth may want to look into shelling, fishing, camping or ATV tours. Just like it was kept back in the day, Portsmouth Island is only accessible by boat. Guests may rent a boat and visit on their own by parking at the public docks or by going as part of a tour.
If you are interested in taking a trip to Portsmouth, the Austin family has you covered. They offer boat and ATV tours.