25 Apr 2023
From the road the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station in Rodanthe doesn’t look all that exciting. With anything more than a glance, though, it obvious that buildings have been lovingly and meticulously restored to their 19th and early 20th century look and feel.
Those buildings, which is the most complete Life-Saving Service site in the state, are part of a remarkable and rewarding museum experience that the whole family will remember.
The Life-Saving Service was the predecessor to the US Coast Guard. Formed in 1878, the crews who lived in the outposts along the shore were trained tirelessly for that one moment of horror when a ship would signal it was sinking. Regardless of conditions, the men of the Life-saving Service would go to the aid to the ship in distress.
The Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station was is one of the most storied stations along the Eastern Seaboard. Originally constructed in 1874, lifesaving crews were on hand before the service was created.
Although Chicamacomico was involved in a number of rescues, its most horrific and famous came on the afternoon of August 16, 1918 when a German U-Boat torpedo struck the British Tanker Mirlo.
As soon as the crew of Chicamacomico saw the explosion, they sprang into action. Taking their boats through oil burning on the surface of the water they were able to rescue 42 of the 52 crewmen aboard the ship.
It was and is considered one of the most extraordinary sea rescues ever. For there efforts the Chicamacomico crew were awarded Gold Lifesaving Medals, the highest honor the Coast Guard awards.
The grounds and building are a museum filled with fascinating things to see including reenactments of lifesaving techniques using authentic equipment of the day.