Aerial View of the first New Inlet Bridge.

Aerial View of the first New Inlet Bridge.

New Inlet about seven miles south of the new Marc Basnight Bridge is one of the most dynamic stretches of beach on the Outer Banks. It’s where Hurricane Irene opened a new New Inlet in 2011, cutting off Hatteras Island until NCOT could get a temporary bridge in place

That temporary bridge was replaced two years ago by the Richard Etheridge Bridge, a low, bridge that seems to cross nothing but sand, for the new New Inlet filled in fairly quickly.

Look to the west, though, and there is a line of wooden pilings that, as it turns out, is further evidence of just how unstable the area of the coast is right there.

Those pilings have been a mystery to a lot of Outer Banks residents and visitors, but a recent article in the Coastal Review Online sheds light on what is a 60 year plus mystery.

New Inlet has opened and closed a number of times since it was first noted on a map in 1657. In 1932 a nor’easter opened it after it had been closed for ten years.

When New Inlet Opened

In those ten years, a lot of changes came to Hatteras Island, not the least of which people started driving up the beach to catch Toby Tillett’s ferry across Oregon Inlet to get to the mainland.

With New Inlet forming once again, a vital link to the rest of the world was suddenly gone.

The predecessor to NCDOT, the State Highway Commission, had an answer—a wooden bridge.

Built is what is called a wooden stringer construction…think of a railroad trestle…the bridge was relatively easy to build and used readily available materials. By late 1934 or 1935 the bridge was open.

The approach to the bridge continued to be the beach. Just sand. The bridge was built, though, to a standard that could handle a 15 ton truck.

From newspaper accounts of the era it was successful.

By 1952, however, the Highway Commission had paved from Hatteras to Oregon Inlet, New Inlet had closed, and the bridge fell out of use.

Hidden tales are so much a part of the Outer Banks. Take some time to explore the wonders of life on a sandbar. Make your reservations today to stay with Brindley Beach Vacations.