Little Kinnakeet Life Saving Station

small outbuildings in foreground, boathouse in background
The Little Kinnakeet Life Saving Station buildings are closed, but the grounds can be visited.

Quick Facts
Avon, NC
Life Saving Station

Beach/Water Access, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto, Scenic View/Photo Spot

This complex is located just north of the Hatteras Island village of Avon, originally called Kinnakeet, and is one of two life saving stations protected by Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The 1874 station has been beautifully restored. Little Kinnakeet was one of the first seven life-saving stations erected on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. These were all 1874-type designs, and all built in 1874. A kitchen/mess room was added to Little Kinnakeet in 1892. In 1900 the original station was moved to the west side of the highway. It was converted to a boathouse in 1904 when a Southern-pattern station house was added to the southeast corner of the grounds. The station was deactivated June 14, 1954. 

The United States Life-Saving Service Station No. 6 Little Kinnakeet, the southern-most of NC’s first seven, existed as an operational station from 1874 until 1915. It continued as operational U.S. Coast Guard Station No. 181 until 1954 when it was decommissioned and turned over to the U.S. Department of the Interior and became under the stewardship of the National Park Service (NPS), Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS). The remaining site is extremely and uniquely significant: The 1874 Life-Saving Station is only one of three remaining in America; The 1904 Life-Saving/Coast Guard Station was one of only four ever built, all in North Carolina, and the only remaining example of the Southern Pattern architecture of Victor Mendleheff. The complex is currently not open to the public, but can be viewed from the nearby soundside access off-road vehicle ramp.

Significant Wreck & Rescues by Little Kinnakeet

A sampling of rescues from the Annual Reports from the United States Life-Saving Service:

  • Schooner Henry H. Keeney ~ 28/29 March 1890
  • Schooner Annie E. Pierce ~ 22 February 1892
  • Schooner S.G. Hart ~ 10 August 1898
  • Schooner Aaron Reppard ~ 16 August 1899, by far the most dramatic and well documented. Subject of numerous books and articles.
  • Schooner Hettie J. Dorman ~ 5 May 1900
  • Barge Saxon ~ 12 October 1907

Complied by James D. Charlet

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Last updated: May 12, 2023