TwHP Lessons

Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station: Home to Unsung Heroes

[Cover photo] Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station
(National Park Service)


ellowing its rage like a thunderous symphony, the Atlantic Ocean throws itself once more against the narrow bastion of North Carolina's barrier islands. Storm winds shriek above the roaring breakers, and carry with them a blinding flurry of sand and sea-foam. Bird and beast alike have fled the unyielding fury of the storm, for nothing can withstand this powerful onslaught of nature. Merciless waves will overwhelm ships caught in the turmoil or drive them ashore to be smashed to pieces in the pounding surf. Yet for this very reason a lifesaver from Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station struggles amidst this forbidding storm, patrolling the beach in search of shipwrecks where mariners might be in need of assistance.

Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station is an excellent reminder of the stations constructed by the U.S. Lifesaving Service (U.S.L.S.S.) during its 44-year existence (1871-1915). The original station building was among the first seven constructed on North Carolina's treacherous Outer Banks in 1874. A larger building was added in 1904, and the site remained active under the U.S. Coast Guard until 1954, when it was decommissioned and transferred to the National Park Service as a part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It still stands among the windblown sands of Hatteras Island, untouched by development and a poignant monument to the lifesavers it once housed.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. North Carolina
 2. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
 3. U.S.L.S.S. stations

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. A Noble Service
 2. Instructions to Mariners
 3. Personal Testimonies

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Lifesaving crew, 1890s
 2. Little Kinnakeet, 1890s
 3. Little Kinnakeet C. G. Station
 4. Thursday's drill

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Shipwrecks and Rescues
 2. Beach Patrol
 3. Today's Lifesavers

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Cape Hatteras National Seashore

This lesson is based on Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving/Coast Guard Station, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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