Our Communities

“Down East” - a special place where generations of fishermen, boatbuilders, decoy carvers, teachers and preachers, boat captains, storekeepers, cooks and writers, lighthouse keepers, watermen and seafaring folks have lived for hundreds of years ever mindful of their close connection to the land and the water.

Our Communities

  • Down East is the collective term for the thirteen communities east of North River Bridge in Carteret County.
  • All of these are part of what has been recently designated “The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway.”
  • These communities were settled in the late seventeenth century – mid eighteenth century. Farming, hunting and fishing-related activities were the primary occupations.
  • Every community had several general stores at different time periods.
  • Every community is home to several churches except Gloucester / Straits, who share one church.
  • The museum interprets the 13 DE communities, plus Cape Lookout / Shackleford Banks, Portsmouth Village, the “Promise’ Land” district of Morehead City, and Salter Path. Natives of the Promise’ Land and Salter Path [along with several DE communities] are descendants of people who lived on the Cape Lookout / Shackleford Banks communities.
  • “Down Easters” are well known for their “old English” accent or “brogue.” Native peoples of Salter Path, Promise’ Land, Ocracoke, Hatteras and Wanchese / Manteo share variations on this speech pattern. They also use particular words and word groupings, in a distinctive manner. This is a result of relative isolation for many years and is a means of recognizing each other as Banker people. This dialect is also found in the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland; Down East, Maine, and in Cortez, Florida, a community founded by the people of Carteret County. The film “The Carolina Brogue” now playing on the second floor television, is a good synopsis of local dialect.
  • All of the communities had their own schools, including high schools, that were gradually consolidated into the three remaining pre-k through eighth grade schools located in Atlantic, Smyrna and Harkers Island. All high school age students were transferred to East Carteret High School in 1965.

Cedar Island →

Atlantic →

Sea Level →

Stacy →

Davis Shore, "The Ridge" & Davis Island →

Williston →

Smyrna →

Marshallberg → 

Gloucester →

Straits →

Harkers Island →

Otway →

Bettie →

Portsmouth →

Diamond City →

Promise Land →

Salter Path →