The dogwood trees are in bloom on the Outer Banks. Driving down the Woods Road in Kitty Hawk or almost anywhere in Southern Shores, there are spectacular splashes of white framed against the vibrant green of spring.
Dogwood trees are ornamentals now, a way to beautify almost any lawn or yard. But there was a time when this tree with its iridescent white and pink flowers was a vital part of the Outer Banks economy—in fact, played a crucial role in the founding of Southern Shores.
A little bit of history. Before there were vacation homes, roads and 3000 people living in Kitty Hawk, the area surrounding the village was heavily forested. From the late 19th century until the late 1920s the village was an important logging center in eastern North Carolina.
At first juniper and live oak were harvested, but as the large trees gave out, workers began harvesting dogwood. Dogwood— a remarkably hard wood—was the ideal wood for the bobbins that drove the North Carolina fabric industry.
Thirty-five or 40 years later, David Stick and his father, Frank, are trying to develop Southern Shores. The elder Stick is working with partners to sell beachfront lots complete with his flat top vacation homes.
David, however, believed the soundside had more potential, but at the time everything west of the dune line was an almost impenetrable maritime forest.
Enter Porcius Crank.
Crank was the surveyor for the development and he was a registered forester.
According to David, Crank told him the dogwoods had considerable value. The trees were harvested and the proceeds used to pay for the infrastructure of the town—which is probably why there is an North, South and East Dogwood trail in the town today.
A side note—the trees were harvested in a sustainable manner.