Chicamacomico Life Saving Station
One of the most unique things to do at the Outer Banks, in the village of Rodanthe the northernmost village on Hatteras Island, is the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station. The former home of one of the most recognized and decorated life saving crews and later Coast Guard crews on the East Coast, the station remains a portrait of the can-do against all odds spirit of the Outer Banks. Read on for more information about one of Cape Hatteras' best activities, and find them online at www.chicamacomico.org.
Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station Quick Facts
- The station was built in 1874
- The site is known as the birthplace of the US Coast Guard
- The site holds authentic rescue demonstrations during the summer
- During its 44 years in service, the station's crews saved 177,286 lives
Built and manned in 1874, the Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station was one of the first life-saving stations in North Carolina, dedicated to rescuing lives in peril in the Atlantic Ocean. After the US life saving service evolved into the US Coast Guard in 1915, the station continued to remain in operation until 1954.
Home to one of the greatest rescues in US history, in 1918 the Chicamacomico Coast Guard crew successfully rescued 42 crew members of the British tanker, Mirlo. The 6 members of the crew were awarded the Silver Cup from the British Trade Commission, the Gold Life Saving Medal from the U.S. Treasury Department, and the greatest honor, the Grand Cross of the American Cross of Honor. This is the nation's highest award for valor, and of the 11 medals that have been distributed throughout history, 6 went to the small team of life savers from Chicamacomico.
In the 44 year service of the Chicamacomico U.S. Life Saving station, 177,286 lives were saved of the 178,741 lives in peril (99.2%), a record unparalleled even today. In addition, no life saver or crew ever lost his life from serving in Chicamacomico in the 80 year history of being an active station. Their commendable service and superior training led Chicamacomico to be a flagship of life saving stations across the country.
After an extensive 1970s renovation, the two stations and five outbuildings that comprise Chicamacomico make it the most complete site of remaining life saving stations in North Carolina. Now a museum with memorabilia and relics of the station’s history, as well as an on-premise gift shop, Chicamacomico is open to the public from mid-April through November.
During the holidays, the station truly comes to life as it is decorated with Christmas lights, candles and décor, making it a beautiful addition to the Hatteras holiday scene.
Chicamacomico also hosts seasonal programs, including authentic rescue demonstrations as U.S. Coast Guard members perform the historic rescue method commonly called "the Breeches Buoy Rescue.” During the summer, a popular nightly event is the Beach Bonfire Program presenting a fireside history of the life saving service and the site, culminating with details of the true, daring, and heroic rescues. Visit the official Chicamacomico Life Saving Station website for schedule of events.
Lovers of maritime history, or visitors who just enjoy a good heroic story with a happy ending will appreciate Chicamacomico Life Saving Station, and the treasures and reminders of the heroes who served there. As one of the Outer Bank’s most prestigious and photographed attractions, the station is a must-see during any Hatteras Island vacation.
Looking for other things to do at the Outer Banks? Contact us today for more information!